Judge warns EPRLF factions

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 21 June 2000, 17:42 GMT]
Two factions of the minor ex-Tamil militant group operating in Mannar with the Sri Lankan security forces were severely reprimanded by the Mannar district judge M.Ilancheliyan Wednesday for breaching the peace in Mannar town by quarreling with each other incessantly. The Police filed a case Wednesday in the Mannar courts against both factions of the Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) for being a public nuisance and a threat to law and order in the town. The EPRLF was formerly a group that was fully backed by India.

Six accused persons from both factions who appeared in courts today were allowed personal bail of ten thousand rupees each. A warrant was issued on a person of the Varatharajaperumal faction who failed to appear in court today as directed by the Police.

Mannar Police told TamilNet that the squabbling between the two EPRLF factions had started when a few persons working for Varatharajaperumal, the Indian backed former chief minister of the northeastern provincial council, had opened an office in Mannar town for his faction on April 17. The office was in a house managed by EPRLF cadres working under the organisation's current semi-retired leader Suresh Premachandran. Hence the Suresh faction had lodged a complaint with the Sri Lankan Police and filed action against the Varatharajaperumal faction for forcibly occupying the house. The case is still pending.

On June 15 both factions lodged separate complaints with the Mannar Police that each group had been threatened and menaced in the town by armed members of the other. The following day the Varatharajaperumal faction had lodged another complaint with the Police saying that the Suresh faction had tried to violently prevent them from putting up posters in the Uppukkulam suburb of the town where EPRLF (Suresh) has its offices. The Suresh faction for its part had complained to the Police that Varatharajaperumal's cadres had forced their way into its office and threatened persons there at gun point.

Both Varatharajaperumal and Suresh Premachandran are backed and armed by Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence. Varatharajaperumal, however, has received special assistance from the Sri Lankan government upon his return from almost nine years of state sponsored exile in India say his colleagues. He has been helped by the Sri Lankan government to arm and feed his cadres and station them under the supervision of the army or Police in the north and eastern parts of the island.

Suresh Permachandran was granted an honourary job by the Ministry of Fisheries for working loyally for the ruling People's Alliance when it was in the opposition and during the 1994 elections.

The current fracas and paltry squabbles stem from Varatharajaperumal's bid to become the unchallenged leader of the dwindling EPRLF say supporters of Suresh Premachandran. Varatharajaperumal's faction, on the other hand, argues that it is trying to save the group from total collapse by ousting Suresh Premachandran from the party.

The EPRLF earned the opprobrium of the Tamils when it began a mass conscription drive in the northern and eastern parts of the island in 1989 under the auspices of the Indian army.

The EPRLF has dwindled immensely in size and political clout since the departure of the Indian army in 1990.

 

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