Batticaloa gets 'Writing on the wall'

[TamilNet, Sunday, 17 June 2001, 16:19 GMT]
Sri Lanka army soldiers nonchalantly pass by the large writings on the wall in Vathaarumoolai, 19 kilometres north of Batticaloa. The attitude surprises visitors and locals alike because these are larger than life graffiti of the Liberation Tigers which began appearing since early last month in many parts of the Batticaloa district's coastal region which is controlled by the Sri Lankan security forces. Some have been sprayed very close to army camps on Batticaloa coastal highway.

The slogan 'We will go anywhere. We will win anything- Jeyanthan Military Division' spray-painted on several buildings, bus shelters and walls in Eravur, Chenkalady and Vanthaarumoolai along the SLA patrolled main road from Batticaloa to Valaichenai are the largest of the graffiti.

graffiti_batti_2_170601.jpgNone have been erased so far, either by the military or the Police; nor has anyone been punished. Last year, Special Task Force commandos severely assaulted several civilians in Kirankulam, about 15 kilometres south of Batticaloa, for celebrating the fall of the SLA's Elephant Pass base by writing salutations to the LTTE on the highway.

The 'Jeyanthan division' is one of the largest infantry formations of the Liberation Tigers. It is made up of recruits from the eastern province, the Batticaloa district in particular. The 'Jeyanthan division' faced the brunt of the Sri Lanka's army's multi-division thrust into the Vanni from 1997 to 1999 and spearheaded the Unceasing Waves III operations in which the LTTE recaptured most of the territory in the Vanni it lost to the army in 97-99 and overran the Elephant Pass garrison.

Some writings refer to the 'Anparasi military division' of the LTTE as well. This female fighting unit was also raised in Batticaloa and fought alongside the Jeyanthan division in the Vanni, sources said.

Other graffiti, mostly spray painted on the Batticaloa's coastal highway which is also the SLA main supply route to this eastern district, praise the LTTE leader, declare that victory is at hand etc.,

graffiti_batti_1_170601.jpgTamil civilians in the villages along the coastal highway which is daily patrolled by the Sri Lanka army, military trained Police and the elite Special Task Force commandos were alarmed when the graffiti first appeared, fearing dire retaliation by security forces. However, no one was held responsible or punished for the spray writings exalting the Tigers.

The SLA dismisses the graffiti as LTTE psy-ops.

But paramilitary leader in Batticaloa assisting the army ventured to suggest that the SLA is little bothered by the graffiti for it may be pulling out soon from Batticaloa, leaving the task of scraping them off to the STF and Police who are expected to move in.

The army flatly denies that it has any plans in the short term to leave the area.

Be that as it may, the writings on the wall remain - as this east coast district ponders an uncertain future.


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