Kayts elections to be sober - army
[TamilNet, Friday, 02 January 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The sale of liquor has been banned in Kayts from today in order to maintain law and order during the forthcoming local government polls, the Sri Lankan army told the Tamil groups this morning.
Brigadier Wijesundara convened a meeting with representatives of the EPDP, PLOTE, EPRLF and the TELO this morning around 10 a.m. at the 51-4 brigade HQ to discuss security and other matters relating to the local polls in Kayts.
He said that the ban would be lifted only after the elections; and that anybody who brings liquor to Kayts or is found drunk hereafter will be arrested and released only after the polls.
The brigadier's announcement comes in the wake of another fracas in the afternoon yesterday involving some local drunkards who had severely beaten up some cadres of the EPRLF putting up campaign posters in Velanai.
EPRLF sources said that the inebriated assailants had been instigated by the EPDP, with arrack. It was also reported that drunken locals were involved in the brawl with the PLOTE on 30 December in which an EPDP candidate was stabbed.
The brigadier indirectly lashed out at the EPDP saying that the islands have not been written off to anyone as their sole property and that he has given express orders to his troops to shoot anyone found using weapons to threaten others.
The EPDP considers the islands as its domain and has been resisting the entry of the other groups into Kayts and the other islands with direct force and indirect intimidation since the elections were announced.
All the other groups have lodged strong protests with the army about the EPDP's strong arm tactics in the islands.
The army commander said that seven Policemen would be provided for the security of an election meeting held by any group and that the groups should give 48 advance notice to the army so that it can adequately secure an area for the campaign.
However, he said that he cannot ensure protection from claymore mines and other war related hazards.
The LTTE has not officially warned anyone against contesting the local government polls in Jaffna.