Jaffna students storm SLA positions

[TamilNet, Monday, 02 September 2002, 14:15 GMT]
(News Feature) Over two thousand protesting Tamil students Monday forced their way into Sri Lanka Army positions and camps in Point Pedro in the northern Jaffna peninsula, destroying barriers, sentry points and checkpoints. Students demanding the withdrawal of troops from public places also blocked the main entrance of the SLA's 52-4 Brigade headquarters. Troops fired tear gars and live rounds and assaulted students, journalists and local officials of the Liberation Tigers' political wing who intervened.

The demonstration by thousands of students had been organised in protest against the Sri Lanka military's closure of several roads which lead to schools and public offices in Point Pedro town. Vehicular traffic and public movement commenced immediately Monday through all roads reopened by students, sources said

Vadamaradchi student protest

During the mass agitation SLA soldiers in one instance fired in the air to prevent students advancing towards their camps and forward defence lines. Two journalists were also manhandled by soldiers in the melee. Eight students were also inured in the army assault, sources added.

Two girl students, Jenappu Mary Vasanthi (16) and Arasaretnam Tharsini (14) were admitted to Point Pedro hospital in unconscious state following tear gas attack.

According to the TamilNet correspondent at the demonstration, more than two thousand students marched through Sivankoviladi area on the Jaffna-Point Pedro road around 10.30 and blocked the main entrance of 524 Brigade headquarters for about fifteen minutes.

Thereafter they went in procession through Oodai veethi to College road, which leads to Hartley College and Methodist Girls College forcibly breaking all road barriers, sentries, camps and checkpoints of the SLA. Soldiers manning those points withdrew on seeing the enraged students who advanced towards their positions.

Later students were seen setting fire to destroyed road barriers, sentries, checkpoints and camps of the SLA. Students were demolishing civilian buildings occupied by soldiers.

At that stage school principals came to scene and took steps to pacify students from advancing further to towards army camps. But students did not respond to their advice. Thereafter students started throwing stones at soldiers who were seen remaining in their positions.

SLA soldiers then fired with automatic weapons and also fired tear gas to disperse angry students before assaulting some demonstrators.

Two officials of the Liberation Tigers' political wing, Mr. Illakian and Mr. Dennie, rushed to the scene on hearing of the clashes. The soldiers also assaulted the LTTE activists when they attempted to intervene to control the situation.

Students thereafter started withdrawing from the scene. In the melee soldiers manhandled two local journalists who went to the scene with their cameras to cover the picketing even after they identified themselves with their press identity cards.

Vadamaradchi student protestTNA Jaffna district parliamentarian Mr. M. K. Sivajilingam rushed to the scene and had discussion with Brigadier Jayawardene of 52-4 Brigade at Point Pedro to diffuse the tension. Brigadier Jayawardene had assured the TNA MP that all roads now have been closed for public will be reopened from September 5. However civilian sources said public now uses all roads earlier closed by the SLA have now been reopened by students. Buses are plying through these roads.

Meanwhile, members of the Vadamaradchi Fisheries Federation also held a peaceful picketing campaign Monday morning in front army checkpoints at First Cross Street, Kadatkarai Veethi and Supper madam junction in Point Pedro area.

 

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