Council chairman reported missing

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 23 September 1998, 13:12 GMT]
PLOTE sources in Jaffna said today that the situation in the Chavakachcheri town continued to be tense today in the aftermath of the shoot out between their cadres and the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) last evening.

They said five of their members, including Ponnaiah Anton, the Chairman of the Chavakachcheri Pradheshiya Sabha (PS), are still missing.

The PLOTE spokesman in Jaffna town said that he is unable to assess the situation as the army is beating up people who are seen in the area.

He said that they still have no information about Ponnaiah Anton.

Meanwhile, sources in Chavakachcheri said this afternoon that the SLA has sealed the PLOTE office after smashing up everything in it and the premises.

They said that the army is conducting a house to house search in Kachchai and Sangaththaanai to apprehend the PLOTE cadres who escaped after firing on the SLA last evening, wounding two soldiers (one of whose condition is critical).

Several civilians from Kachchai, Ponnaiah Anton's village, were also beaten up by the army today, according to a resident. All shops between the town centre and the local hospital remained shut.

Ponnaiah Anton was elected Chairman of the Chavakachcheri Pradheshiya Sabha in the Jaffna local government polls in January this year. He is the leader of the PLOTE unit in Chavakachcheri.

The SLA has alleged in the past that the PLOTE in Chavakachcheri was harbouring the Liberation Tigers who were infiltrating the area. The PLOTE leadership in Colombo and Vavuniya has denied the allegation.

However, informed sources in Jaffna said that the SLA has continued to view the PLOTE in Chavakachcheri with suspicion. Relations between the two was further exacerbated by an SLA sentry point in front of the local PLOTE camp they said.

Meanwhile, the EPDP lodged a very strong protest with the commander of the SLA Brigade which controls Chavakachcheri about the brutal manner in which one of its Pradheshiya Sabha members was beaten up and shot dead by soldiers who had been angered by the PLOTE firing on them last evening.

An EPDP spokesman said that his party refused to accept the brigade commander's excuse that the person was actually shot dead by Ponnaiah Anton while he was firing on the army from the PLOTE camp yesterday.


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