Former Jaffna GA granted bail

[TamilNet, Friday, 03 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Legal sources in Colombo said yesterday that Mr. Chellaiah Pathmanathan, the former Government Agent (GA) for Jaffna had been granted bail by the Sri Lankan government's attorney general. Following a bail application by Mr. Pathmanathan's lawyer, the Colombo Fort magistrate directed that he be produced in court today.

Mr. Pathmanathan was arrested on 28 August by the Sri Lankan government's Criminal Investigation Department on grounds that he misappropriated government funds during his period as Jaffna GA, two years ago.

The alleged 'misappropriations' took place while the peninsula was under the LTTE's control. Observers say that the Sri Lankan government knew full well that at the time, the Liberation Tigers ran the civil administration in the peninsula by co-opting officials like Mr. Pathmanathan.

The arrest and harassment of the retired GA was actually intended to scare the current government agents in the four Vanni districts, they said.

For more than three months, the Sri Lankan government has been frustrated in its efforts to capture the Main Supply Route to the Jaffna peninsula, due to stiff resistance by the LTTE, which controls much of the Vanni.

The Sri Lankan government is currently making a concerted effort to starve the Tamil population of the Vanni. Since mid August, the transport of food into the region has been severely curtailed.

The Sri Lankan government assumed that this would demoralize the civilian population and expected this in turn to impact on the LTTE's determination to beat back the Sri Lankan army. The SLA has been unsuccessfully trying to capture the strategic junction town of Puliyankulam for several months.

However, the Sri Lankan government considers the activity of the GAs of the Vanni region as the main impediment to implementing its plan to curtail food supplies to the vast area controlled by the Liberation Tigers.

The government agents are publishing regular reports, some of which are being seriously considered by western donor countries and agencies, highlighting the dire conditions in which the Tamil people in the Vanni survive.

Pathmanathan's arrest is widely believed to be indirectly aimed at intimidating them into inaction, so that the Sri Lankan government could smoothly and quietly proceed with the project to starve the Vanni populace into submission.

 

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