Aussie TV exposes paramilitary presence in SLA controlled areas in East
[TamilNet, Thursday, 20 April 2006, 02:31 GMT]
Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) Television’s Dateline program aired for the first time video footage from a training camp of paramilitaries from Karuna Group operating from Government controlled territory in Batticaloa. In the same program, Mr Gothabaya Rajapakse, the Sri Lankan Secretary of Defence and the brother of SL President Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse, denies any knowledge of existence of paramilitaries. Previously, Mr Gothabaya Rajapakse had claimed that Sri Lanka forces could win a war against Tigers with Karuna Group's support.
SBS journalist Aaron Lewing talking to Karuna Group cadres
SBS' Dateline program journalist Aaron Lewis who covered the paramilitary issue in Sri Lanka, showed video footage of SBS correspondent's visit to the paramilitary camp of Karuna Group in Sri Lanka Army controlled area in Batticaloa. The footage showed around 30 paramilitary cadres in a show down exercise as proof of the existence of the paramilitary group.
"Secretary of Defence doesn't even believe that these armed groups exist," says SBS journalist Aaron after interviewing Mr. Gothabaya Rajapakse.
Gothapaya Rajapakse talking to Aaron Lewis
When asked about paramilitaries, Mr. Gothayabaya Rajapakse, says: "If there is a responsible group or organization that says, there are still groups, then at least show us where, what area, how, who told you, give us some clues for us to look into, because we have tried, and we are successful in preventing these groups operating into these areas."
Gothayabaya Rajapakse replied in the negative when asked if he believed that there are armed groups operating in Government territory.
"No, definitely not. Definitely not," he repeated.
When the journalist said he had met the group in person in Batticaloa, Mr. Rajapakse, replied smiling: "LTTE can do the same thing, they can take you to their camp and say they are Karuna Group."
Aaron Lewis reports, whether they are called paramilitaries or not, "these groups are not hard to find," adding that he managed to get into the camp after some negotiation.
Karuna Group military unit cadres in showdown training to SBS Television
In the SBS video footage, a Karuna Group operative, Pradeep, presented himself as the Head of Political Wing of Karuna Group. Pradeep claimed that his group operates political, financial, armed and intelligence units, but most of the cadres belonged to the armed unit. The video footage, then showed around 30 paramilitary cadres, armed with Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) and AK-47s.
Pradeep claimed that Karuna Group cadres were behind the attacks against the Tiger positions in Vakarai area.
"It is clearly the biggest threat to the peace at the moment," Aaron Lewis comments.
The paramilitary threat, the top of the agenda issue, is destroying the the already fragile ceasefire, the SBS program commented.
"As soon as I arrived, I could see, despite the Government's denial, the Karuna Group's military wing is clearly real," concludes the SBS journalist.
Sri Lanka paramilitary coverage of the award winning Dateline program aired Wednesday 8.30 p.m.