10:01 AM

NFF raises battle cry against Indian interference


The National Freedom Front (NFF) has begun a campaign to discuss with other political parties the issue of increasing Indian political pressure to halt the ongoing military push in the North to eradicate LTTE terror.
NFF Chairman Wimal Weerawansa told The Nation that the time has come for all anti LTTE political forces to unite and support the on going military campaign that is nearing completion.

“The military forces have the LTTE on the run, and their so called de facto capital Kilinochchi will collapse in the near future. The pro LTTE forces have understood that the LTTE would crack under this massive military onslaught,” Weerawansa said. “That is why the pro LTTE elements in Tamil Nadu are creating unrest in India, and are trying to force the Indian Government to interfere in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka.”

Weerawansa claimed that these political forces are not interested in the well being of the Tamil people. Their only objective is to get political mileage out of a very sensitive issue, he said.

“Last week the Tamil Nadu politicians held an All Party Conference to discuss the Sri Lanka issue, and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said that India could certainly intervene in Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict to alleviate the sufferings of Tamils, in the manner in which it helped to create Bangladesh in 1971 from East Pakistan. And since elections are near, I fear that the Indian Central government might try to intimidate and influence Sri Lanka in the coming weeks. Therefore there is an urgent need for discussion and an alliance among anti LTTE groups at this juncture”, he said.

The NFF has made arrangements to meet representatives of Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU,) Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP,) TMVP, Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) Muslim National Alliance (MNA) and United Democratic Alliance in the coming weeks to discuss the issue.
Meanwhile the NFF has requested Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara to hold a party leaders’ meeting on October 20 and to reserve a day to discuss the issue of Indian intervention in Parliament.


9:59 AM

Army turns heat on LTTE as TN increases pressure on Delhi

Amid a diplomatic furore caused by Tamil Nadu’s call to suspend Sri Lanka’s war against the LTTE, the army has stepped up its efforts to regain the Nachchikuda-Pooneryn road stretch along the 82 km. Mannar-Pooneryn coastal road (A32) with recent fighting seeing a hole punched in the Tigers’ last ditch earth bund.

This would be a critical element in the overall strategy to deny the LTTE capability to bring in urgently needed supplies from Tamil Nadu across the Gulf of Mannar, a senior military official told News-lanka.

Contrary to expectations, the TamilNadu factor has spurred stepped up military operations with the SLAF targeting LTTE units engaged in building fresh fortifications, a senior military source said.

A desperate LTTE attempt to retain a foothold on the north-western coast was on the verge of collapse with the Task Force I cutting off the Nachchikuda-Pooneryn stretch at a point eight kilometres north of Nachchikuda on Friday, he said.

The move was made immediately the Task Force commanded by Brigadier Shavindra Silva captured Maniyankulam intersection about 13.5 kilometres northeast of Nachchikuda.

The official said that the army was positioned south, east and north of Nachchikuda while the enemy wouldn’t be able to undertake a large scale sea movement in view of the navy’s superiority on the seas off north-western coast.

Earlier heavy LTTE resistance forced the army to bypass Nachchikuda and take up position east and north-east of the enemy stronghold before cutting across towards the coastal road.

The army said that once the eight kilometre stretch northwards of Nachchikuda was cleared, the LTTE would be left with about a 17 kilometre road stretch.

Task Force 1 launched operations in September last year. Although its initial progress had been extremely slow, it experienced significant battlefield success with troops liberating Viddataltivu, Kalliyadi, Iluppaikkadavai, Mundampiddi and Vellankulam towns.

Army headquarters said that the Task Force I and the 57 Division deployed on its right flank had pierced the LTTE’s main obstacle - an earth bund running for 28 km. from Nachchikuda to Akkarayankulam tank.

8:57 AM

President takes up Lankan issue with Indian PM

President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday made a special telephone call to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to allay increasing Indian concerns that civilians in the north are allegedly coming to harm due to the current military drive to defeat the LTTE, The Nation reliably learns.
Tiger proxies in Tamil Nadu have been pressing the central government in recent days, to intervene on behalf of the Tamils, to halt the military drive and threatening to pull out support to the ruling coalition government, if it fails to comply with their request. The ruling coalition has been weakened, since the left parties pulled out their support in protest over the nuclear deal with the US.

Sources said that, the President, who spoke to the Indian Premier in the presence of Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga around 1:00 pm, had requested Dr Singh to send his Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Sri Lanka, in order to get a firsthand account of the prevailing situation here.
Soon after the conversation between the two leaders, Mr. Bogollagama had extended a formal invitation to his counterpart in Delhi, to make an early visit to Sri Lanka

The President had given a detailed account to Dr Singh, on painstaking steps taken to avoid civilian casualties and also to maintain essential supplies to war affected areas, as was done during the successful operation to capture the East.
He had emphasised that, the war is being conducted with minimum collateral damage to property and persons, bearing well in mind the welfare of the civilian population in the Wanni region.

As for the repeated request of the Indians to place a political solution to resolve the problem, President Rajapaksa had assured that it would be extended no sooner the LTTE was disarmed.
President Rajapaksa had also expressed concern of the difficult position Dr Singh’s government was placed in due to increasing agitations in Tamil Nadu over the Sri Lankan problem and had assured full cooperation to his government to tackle the issue.
President Rajapaksa had also proposed solving the fishing disputes between the two countries through regular, close consultations between the Navies of the two countries.

In recent days, senior Sri Lankan diplomats, serving in India, have been summoned by the Indian National Security Advisor and the Foreign Secretary, to express their concerns over happenings in the north of Sri Lanka. On Friday, Indian High Commissioner in Colombo, Alok Prasad, also called on Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama with similar concerns.
Sources said that, even prior to yesterday’s telephone conversation between the two leaders, the Government had decided to send Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa to India next week, to explain to the Indians, Sri Lanka’s position, with a special message from the President.

Meanwhile, the Press Trust of India report on the discussion between the two leaders stated: “Amid mounting pressure from ally DMK and other Tamil Nadu parties, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday asked Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to ensure that Tamils do not get “enmeshed” in the conflict with the LTTE and that, their rights and safety are upheld.
“During a telephonic conversation initiated by Rajapaksa, Singh said there could be no military solution to the conflict in the island country, and asked the President to start a political process for a peacefully negotiated settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said.

“The Prime Minister also asked Rajapaksa to instruct the Sri Lankan Navy to desist from firing on Indian fishermen, saying their killing is “unacceptable”, the PMO said in a statement.
“Rajapaksa assured Singh that “all necessary measures” are being taken to ensure safety and wellbeing of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka, it said.
“Singh emphasised that the “safety and the security of these civilians must be safeguarded at all costs.”