Vavuniya MP says SLA disrupts Pongu Thamil
[TamilNet, Friday, 19 September 2003, 17:02 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Army in Vavuniya has beefed up its checkpoint outside the Pongu Thamil (Tamil Upsurge) office, and SLA personnel are checking and video taping those who visit the office. Such actions are intended to disrupt the Pongu Thamil event in Vavuniya, said Mr.N.Sivashakthi Anandan, the Vanni district Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian, Thursday.
Mr.Anandan said that in a phone call to Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe, he pointed out that such actions by the SLA would derail the current peace process as well, and the PM responded that he would take up the issue with high-level SLA officials.
On Thursday, starting at 4:30 p.m., armed SLA soldiers patrolled the area between the Railway station junction and the Pongu Thamil office on Park road. The soldiers stopped the people who went in or came out of the Pongu Thamil office, checked their identities and videotaped them.
When a group of activists, who were returning after an information session of Pongu Thamil in the rural areas of Vavuniya, saw the action by the SLA soldiers, they criticized it, and as the soldiers refused to stop their checking and videotaping, a heated argument ensued. A large number of people, including parliamentarian Mr. Anandan, gathered at the spot. A tense situation arose. As the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission officials in Vavuniya rushed to the spot and started an investigation, the SLA personnel left the area.
The SLA is saying that its soldiers were only rehearsing its action in the event of a sudden eruption of violence, and checking of pedestrians, vehicles and the public, including those on the Park road near the Pongu Thamil office, was part of such a rehearsal.
Mr. Anandan, the parliamentarian, said, however, that the SLA could not stomach the fact that a large number of people are participating in meetings in preparation of the Pongu Thamil event to be held September 24, and it is deliberately increasing its checks and other harassment in the Vavuniya town.
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