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Chapter 7


7.1 Was there an Alternative ?

                It was now clear that a military offensive to recapture the Jaffna peninsula was imminent. Various experts put the anticipated civilian casualties at 10 to 40 thousand and the army casualties at one to four thousand. Internationally there was no opposition to such a venture. It was generally felt that such action had been made necessary by the L.T.T.E.'s proven intransigence while an apparently reasonable set of proposals were on the table. Such a view would not have been entirely unjust. At the same time the scope for action by the government had been restricted by past choices. Sections of the government and the security forces had connived at racist killings of Tamils in 1983. The government's subsequent policy towards Tamils was one that owed little to moral considerations. Tamils of the North and East became victims of unchecked state terror. All Tamil villages in Trincomalee District outside the town had been systematically destroyed. The Special Task Force (S.T.F.) was deployed in Batticaloa with what was described as a licence to kill, with the foreign press kept out. Apart from killings during operations, killing in the East had a casual character. A senior church official described his experience of travelling in a convoy, where passenger vehicles had been joined in by S.T.F. vehicles. At one point three peasants were crossing the road. The next moment they were simply mown down with gun fire. The convoy went on as if nothing had happened. There was no question of stopping to ask who they were or what they were doing. If an S.T.F. official happened to remember that incident before lunch, he may have telephoned the news agency Lanka Puwath to let them know that three terrorists had been killed in an engagement. Lankapuwath would oblige by adding the frills. According to information continually documented by the Saturday Review, by January 1987, over 10,000 Tamil had become victims of government action. Perhaps about 1000 Sinhalese civilians died as the result of Tamil militant action. The number of soldiers killed was 689 at the end of July 1987 according to official sources. The militant dead is believed to be lower. The L.T.T.E. claims to have lost 631 by August 1987. Perhaps a comparable number of militants died because of internal killings. These figures have been given as a pointer to the state of passions in the country. The character of the Tamil insurgency cannot be isolated from the dehumanising effect of state terror. The government had much to do with creating the problems it was up against.

                Even at this point a bold new initiative to win over the Tamils would have given the government the best chance of averting the humiliation that was to come. It could have used the media to make a clean breast of its past errors and explain to the Sinhalese the hard reality facing the country and the difficult choices involved. If as it was widely claimed, the sticking point for the Tamils was a North-East merger, it could have accepted this in principle and challenged the Tamils to offer terms acceptable to the Muslims and Sinhalese in the East. This was after all going to be a far cry from separation. If the L.T.T.E. still rejected them, the government could have proceeded to expose its desultory course by the disciplined conduct of its forces and by making the Tamils feel it was concerned for them. The 11,000 or so persons on whom the envisaged operation was going to pass a death sentence were after all citizens of this country. But the government's moral faculties and imagination had atrophied through misuse. It was incapable of thinking on these lines, and making an original departure from the past. Courage too was in short supply.

What the L.T.T.E. was hoping for is hard to fathom. It had alienated international and Indian opinion. It had divided the Tamils. It could not count on the civilian population for anything tangible. It could only count on the unswerving obedience of a few thousand armed men, a large number of them in their teens. Its strength was of the negative kind. Except that the government troops were possessed of such discipline as to avoid reprisals against civilians, the L.T.T.E. could sour any attempts at imposing a solution. It was perhaps this strength that it was counting on. An alarmed group of civilians had earlier sought an interview with a prominent L.T.T.E. leader, requesting him to reconsider his approach to India. For there seemed a likelihood that India would do nothing as the Sri Lankan government launched its final offensive. This leader had reportedly replied: "I will make India fall at my feet." Nor did the L.T.T.E. consider it necessary to make overtures to other militant groups, whose trained men had been disarmed, or to sections of the population alienated from it.

As for the civilian population, death had been raining on them slowly but surely. Normal lives and education had been severely disrupted. Those who could go abroad were slowly slipping out.

On the information available, the problem as seen by the National Security Ministry was like this: The government had dismissed any thought of the Tamils of the North and East being a potential electoral asset. This meant that the feelings of Tamils were of no account. (The President had said as much to the Daily Telegraph in July 1983.) The civilian casualties resulting from the action to take over Jaffna must be of such an order as could be sold to international opinion. Speed was of the essence in such an operation. For at the time, international opinion was on the side of the government. But if the operation was protracted and stories of civilian suffering began to come out, international opinion might change, giving India an opportunity to capitalise on it.

Put this way it was a problem for a technocratic approach devoid of moral content. The government was thinking in terms of a three-day operation, which would keep the L.T.T.E. disorganised for months to come. Riding on the popularity resulting from a successful military outcome, the government would call snap elections, thus strengthening its hand domestically and internationally. To this end the army had been receiving training from specialised foreign agencies (See section 2.1 of Volume 2). Air and naval support had also been boosted with the annual defence expenditure running at U.S. $500 million or 20% of the national budget. There was something to be said for the technocratic approach. The killing rate during the army's recapture of Vadamaratchi was of a low order compared with when an unprepared army took on Sinhalese insurgents of the J.V.P. in 1971.

In contrast one finds a very different attitude towards counter-insurgency against a resurgent J.V.P. in the Sinhalese South. Iqbal Athas in his "Situation Report" in the Weekend of 20 December 1987, writes about the counter-insurgency operation in the South: "In the North where the security forces once battled separatist terrorists before the advent of the I.P.K.F., an encounter between the troops and their adversaries would have meant death for whoever was not quick on the gun. But that is the North. In the South the gun has given way to persuasive tactics."

                The same article quotes Colonel Lakshman Algama, Military Co-ordinating Officer in Embilipitiya: "When an operation is conducted and I have taken in 100 people, only five turn out to be miscreants. When the other 95 are released, they must go without any hard feelings." The writer adds: "This is an unenviable task. Despite all the good intentions of this dedicated soldier who has undergone specialised training in the United States, the vast majority of those who are released as innocents depart with strained feelings... the security forces and the police have a limited role... the answer to the problem is not in their hands... they are economic and political. The longer the delay, the bigger the problem."

                This is again a technocratic approach, morally indifferent and as cynical of the Sinhalese as was the approach to the Tamils. The difference is that the Sinhalese are not regarded as a dispensable electoral asset.

7.2 Operation Liberation Commences

Probing and diversionary action for the operation to recapture the peninsula had begun by 18 May. Operation Liberation, as the operation came to be called, was planned and executed with commendable efficiency. Being a small country with limited resources, the manner of deployment of resources and timing was of crucial importance. To this end the capacity to gather and analyse intelligence had been strengthened with foreign, and particularly Israeli, help to an admirable degree. As far as this approach went, the government had in Mr. Athulathmudali, the National Security Minister, a competent man.

                Following the advances made earlier in the year, the entire Jaffna peninsula was within easy shelling range. Several houses in places like Urumpirai had stacked up sand bags against their walls. Providing such services had given rise to lucrative employment. Constant punitive shelling and rising casualties had made life for civilians a terror.

                On 18 May, a diversionary column of troops had marched Northwest from Elephant Pass. On seeing a log placed across the road most of the passengers in a Colombo bound bus of the Safety Bus Company, alighted. A few removed the log and went on. The bus received one burst of gunfire and came to a stop. Several of the passengers had been injured. It took a long time before the soldiers could be contacted and apprised of what had taken place. The bus proceeded to Elephant pass with deflated tires. It was when a North-bound doctor went back to Kilinochchi and contacted the army commander that an ambulance was provided and some of the injured were flown by helicopter for medical attention at Anuradhapura. Three of the injured died, including Mr. Jegathesan, an engineer attached to Lanka Cement Limited, who had been unsparing in his efforts at helping injured fellow passengers.

                Around 20 May, diversionary actions were also launched in Navatkuli and Palaly. Colonel Radha, the L.T.T.E. commander for the Mannar district was killed in action at Navatkuli. Radha, a mild-looking ex-bank officer, was noted for his daring. The Ceylon army made a rapid advance towards Atchuvely through Iddaikkadu from Palaly. When the advance commenced, the L.T.T.E. is said to have had 15 men in the area. More men were then ferried in by vehicles and the advance was fiercely resisted. The Tamil daily Uthayan reported that about nine civilians were killed by the army during the action, including some members of a family who were sheltering in a trench. This thrust too turned out to be diversionary as the army withdrew on the 23rd. Throughout the whole operation, the Sri Lankan forces enjoyed unchallenged freedom of the air. India had seemingly decided that the L.T.T.E. should at best be able to do no more than an arduous holding operation. It did not possess anti-aircraft weapons.

                One incident demonstrated a new, conscious, utilitarian outlook on the part of the Sri Lankan army. On 20 May, three soldiers had lost their way at Iddaikkadu and had run out of ammunition when they ran into an L.T.T.E. party. On their expressing their willingness to surrender, Lieutenant Kones of the L.T.T.E. went forward to accept their surrender. The four men who were in the open were spotted by a Sri Lankan helicopter, which promptly shelled them. All four died. Those in the helicopter could hardly have been mistaken about their target or their own uniforms. The incident was corroborated in the situation report in the Weekend of 24 May. Here those killed were all claimed to have been members of the L.T.T.E.. The L.T.T.E. were never sitting ducks for helicopter gunners. Lt. Kones must have come into the open in the confidence that the helicopter would not fire at its own side. The authorities must have decided that they were no longer going to be encumbered or embarrassed by soldiers being held prisoners of war. Prisoners would mean distractive appeals by relatives appearing in the press. The National Security Ministry had had enough trouble with the relatives of the 11 prisoners already held. One father from Galle appealed to a Roman Catholic clergyman after several failed attempts at an interview with the National Security Minister. This new aspect of the dirty war was one the sentimentally minded Sinhalese would have found hard to accept. It was all part of the technocratic approach. To those in seats of power, what was after all the semi-educated son of a peasant from the Galle district to the great matters in hand?

                Operation Liberation proper, commenced on 26 May with the transformation of the radio of the Tamil Eelam Communist Party (T.E.C.P.) into Radio Jaffna. The radio of the T.E.C.P. had mysteriously appeared on the air towards the end of 1986, with news bulletins in both English and Tamil. Until 26 May, when the same voice signed in as Radio Jaffna, it was hardly known that the broadcasters were none other than the Sri Lankan forces at Palaly. People generally listened because it gave a great deal of inside information on what was happening within and between militant groups. The accents were disguised and unplaceable. It may sometimes sound pro-L.T.T.E. or pro-E.P.R.L.F. and sometimes anti-L.T.T.E.. For the first time, it made public the impending marriages of Mahattaya and Kittu. There had been wild speculation as to the source and origin of the broadcasts. Whatever it was, it seemed a good lark. The announcer on Radio Jaffna would sometimes slip and use the old signature. On the morning of 26 May, Radio Jaffna meant business. People in the peninsula were asked to leave their homes and go to various temples and schools which were announced as places of refuge. Such an arrangement was no more than nominal, since the distances to such places were often impracticably large. Besides, the sum total of the accommodation provided would only have served a small fraction of Jaffna's population. People simply decided that if things got hot, they would move into the nearest church, temple or school.

                The L.T.T.E. meted out harsh punishments to those who were allegedly informers. They probably would have been surprised at the amount of information the security forces gleaned by monitoring the L.T.T.E.'s radio communications and its public television network, the Niedharshanam. According to Weekend's situation report column, by listening in over a long period, code words had been broken and signatures had been identified with particular leaders. Spies too had certainly been around. Again a large number of civilians had made it a pastime to listen in on FM communications between hovering bomber pilots. Some had taping devices and FM aerials installed inside trenches for air-raid entertainment.

                The opportune moment to commence the operation came when the security forces learnt from intelligence reports that the L.T.T.E. leader Prabhakaran was in Valvettithurai. The populated area of Vadamaratchi is in the form of clusters towards the Northern sea coast. A wide open space which extends from Thodamanaru lagoon geographically separates Vadamaratchi from the rest of peninsular Jaffna. Movement across this open space is relatively easy to monitor. Mr. Prabhakaran's presence together with this geographical factor gave military sense to an attempt on Vadamaratchi. The control of Vadamaratchi and the rest of the northern coastline would leave the remainder of the Jaffna peninsula exposed along a broad front, stretching the L.T.T.E.'s resources to impossible limits. Although Prabhakaran's presence at Valvettithurai was then denied by the L.T.T.E., it was later admitted by L.T.T.E. men in a conversation with Colonel Wimalaratne of the Sri Lankan army. The conversation took place in Palaly shortly after the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987 and was reported in the Situation Report Column in the Weekend of 27 September, 87. The operation was executed by Colonel Wimalaratne and Brigadier Kobbekaduwa. One infers from this conversation that not only were the Sri Lankan forces aware of Prabhakaran's presence in Valvettithurai, but also had pretty good intelligence of his location. To the question why the Ceylon army failed to seal off Prabhakaran's escape, the Colonel replied that the army had lost some time in negotiating booby traps. Here is an extract from the report:

Kumarappa, one time L.T.T.E. "commander" for Batticaloa and now in the Tiger hierarchy and his colleagues last week talked over coffee to one of Sri Lanka's top military men in the anti-terrorist battle, Colonel Vijaya Wimalaratne at the I.P.K.F. headquarters in Palaly. The conversation, interestingly enough centred on some of the battles the two sides fought. A Tiger militant asked Colonel Wimalaratne who led one brigade through Vadamaratchi during Operation Liberation, why he did not overrun a sector in Valvettithurai where Tiger leader Prabhakaran and area leader Soosai were trapped. "I wish we knew that," replied Colonel Wimalaratne, "When troops began surrounding Valvettithurai, a section of soldiers, who encountered booby traps, delayed to reach their areas to seal off that spot. That is where the Tiger leader slipped out from."

Independent sources have said that both houses belonging to a businessman in Valvettithurai who had entertained Prabhakaran were bombed a short time after the latter had left. An unspecified number of the L.T.T.E. cadre reportedly lost their lives in the gruelling process of getting Prabhakaran to safety by moving Eastwards and then through Mulliveli, Southwards. Preoccupation with this had alone created considerable disarray in L.T.T.E. ranks.

        The army moved out of Thondamanaru on the 26th. This was accompanied by heavy aerial bombing and shelling, particularly in Valvettithurai. There was also military activity, bombing and shelling near the Jaffna Fort. The Government later claimed that this was diversionary. By the 28th Udupiddy and Valvettithurai had been taken. This was the difficult part, involving several landmine barriers. After this the L.T.T.E. resistance petered out and Vadamaratchi was taken by 1 June. One group of soldiers were heli-dropped at Mulli. One column took Nelliady and advanced northwards to Pt. Pedro. Another group of soldiers advanced eastwards towards Pt. Pedro by running in three lines. The L.T.T.E. was not given the time to regroup or to put up fresh land mine barriers. The L.T.T.E. made a quick withdrawal abandoning its vehicles and a large quantity of arms. About 8000 troops from the Gemunu Watch and Gajaba Regiments were involved in the recapture of Vadamaratchi. The L.T.T.E. was taken by surprise by what had happened. The Ceylon army had over the past three years been motivated and trained to make a steady disciplined advance under fire. It was not the so-called rabble army of 1983.

        Surprise and initiative continued to be on the side of the Sri Lankan army. It had the northern coast under its control from K.K.S. eastwards. It now moved Westwards along the coast and advanced Southwards towards Tellipallai meeting with next to no resistance. Atchuvely was again taken after a barrage of shelling. The B.B.C.'s Mark Tully quoted the army command at Palaly as having hopes of taking Jaffna within the next 48 hours. The L.T.T.E. was in a bad way. Though rhetoric abounded, the fleeing southwards into Sri Lankan held territory or to India of even the L.T.T.E.'s most ardent supporters was a reflection of current expectations. Then came the well publicised convoy of fishing vessels from India with relief supplies on the 3rd June, their being refused entry and then the Indian air drop of 25 tons of relief supplies on Jaffna the following day. This marked the end of the Sri Lankan offensive. The L.T.T.E. knew that its image had taken a beating. The initiative was now firmly lodged across the Palk Straits. Prabhakaran issued a statement welcoming what was termed India's humanitarian concern. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, whose government was reeling from extensive press exposure, particularly by the Indian Express, of corruption in high places and payment of kickbacks in arms deals (estimated at ,20,000,000 from Bofors of Sweden and ,15,000,000 from the West German submarine deal), now became the instant hero of the Tamils of Ceylon.

7.3 Some aspects of Operation Liberation

The operation was based on a utilitarian framework which regarded the Tamils as an expendable mass. The problem was to pacify the Tamil areas in a manner that could be sold to international opinion. Within this framework the technical planning and execution were creditable in military terms. But if one regarded Tamils as equal citizens of this country, or even as human beings whose lives and feelings should be respected, and who should be encouraged to reassert their lost dignity, then the operation had several objectionable features. There was much shelling into civilian areas which had no actual conflict. A subsequent radio announcement asked people to take refuge in places of worship and in schools, which modified an earlier announcement designating a limited number of such places. Three places of worship which functioned as refugee centres were shelled. One shell falling on Mariamman Temple, Alvai, claimed over 35 lives. People discovered sheltering in trenches were summarily shot, as were several curfew breakers even when they were evidently harmless. The soldiers seem to have been told that those building trenches to protect themselves from air raids and shelling must be L.T.T.E. supporters. In certain areas designated pro-L.T.T.E., such as Vathiri and Kottawattai, several young men were murdered without questions being asked; sometimes after they were taken away from their parents with a pledge to release them after questioning. At Kamparmalai soldiers went on a rampage every time they saw posters commemorating dead militants. There was widespread looting by troops, especially of jewellery. Such incidents were repeated in Pt. Pedro where the army surrounded Puttalai Pillayar Kovil, a designated refugee camp on 1 June, and took away several young men from their parents on suspicion.

        An engineering student was killed in front of his mother and other refugees simply because he had a Valvettithurai identity card. About five were shot and thrown into a well as they were being marched from the temple towards waiting trucks. Mr. Ragutheswaran, an Assistant Lecturer in Mathematics, and some others who were detained at the Murugan temple refugee camp Nelliady, were briefly interviewed at Nelliady junction by Brigadier Kobbekaduwa on 31 May. They were then marched off in handcuffs towards Nelliady Central College. On the way four of them were asked to run and were fired at. Three died. Mr. Ragutheswaran was left for dead and later escaped with a hand injury. Worse than the ordinary aerial bombing was the use of so-called barrel bombs which were pushed out of Avro transports. These were crude devices which could not be aimed at specific targets, and consisted of a barrel of fuel padded with a rubber like inflammable substance. On hitting the ground the fuel would explode. The molten padding would fly in all directions and stick to the skin of a victim and burn itself out. A large number of these were dropped on Valvettithurai (48 according to one count). Barrel bombs were also dropped at random in several other parts of the peninsula. One falling on Sivan Kovil on K.K.S. Road, Jaffna town claimed 17 victims. This seemed a sadistic extra without military purpose.

        As far as the people in Vadamaratchi were concerned, there was much material damage in and around Valvettithurai. But in terms of loss of life the operation had been less severe than expected. As the bombing and shelling commenced in and around Valvettithurai, most of the able bodied persons had gone eastwards and many of them went as refugees to Thenmaratchi. The fact that the L.T.T.E. had withdrawn after about the third day and had no opportunity or desire to take up new permanent positions did help to reduce civilian losses as the army moved towards Pt. Pedro. There was some grudging admiration for the Sri Lankan army. Many were scathing about the Tigers. "They left us in the lurch and ran away without even telling us they were going," they said. Others such as Mr. Tharmar from Kamparmalai took a more charitable view: "I will not say that the boys did not try hard. Once the land mine barrier was breached, and the army was out of Thondamanaru, there was nothing but to run for it. The boys could not face shells with AK 47's. They asked us to run and we too ran. The army kept coming like devils. If some fell, the others did not seem to notice. We, nor the boys had expected that." Vadamaratchi had been regarded an L.T.T.E. stronghold as it was the home of several of its leaders including Prabhakaran. To this day, the L.T.T.E. has not regained in Vadamaratchi the credibility it then lost. Many people were so tired and war weary that they were prepared to come to terms with the occupation by the Sri Lankan army. "The Sinhalese are quick tempered when they are provoked. When they cool down they are all right," they would say. People were hoping against hope that the L.T.T.E. would keep away from Vadamaratchi. When the Tigers reappeared about two weeks later and attempted to lay landmines, the army was usually given a tip. The most common feeling amongst people was that they had had enough and needed a rest.

        A notable incident related by a senior doctor at Point Pedro hospital was to have several parallels in the South of the peninsula as the Indian forces launched an offensive against the L.T.T.E. in October that same year. On 30 May, about 2500 refugees were gathered at Pt. Pedro hospital at Manthikai as the Ceylon army was poised to advance from Nelliady. A group of leading citizens from amongst those present appealed to the doctors to approach the L.T.T.E., explain to them the plight of the people and request them not to resist the army from within half a mile of the hospital. The doctor said: "These persons were prominent supporters of the L.T.T.E.. This brings us to an unresolved moral dilemma facing the community. When landmines went off in far away Trincomalee and Batticaloa killing government troops, we used to applaud. We ignored what happened to innocent people around afterwards. When the landmines are closer to home, the very people normally given to applause think differently. In the event, the L.T.T.E. decided on its own to withdraw without offering resistance. Non-violence is the best policy for our community." There were several instances during the Indian offensive when refugees were not so fortunate.

7.4 Sinhalese and Tamils during Operation Liberation

We put down on record, some curious instances during Operation Liberation, when Sinhalese and Tamils behaved, with their foibles perhaps, but simply as human beings. There was no communal hatred or malice. The old Sinhalese habit of making jokes at their own expense was not entirely dead. During all the time when the killing was going on, several government departments attempted to carry out their functions without regarding the Tamils as enemies. A Sinhalese railway station master at Anuradhapura is known to have gone beyond the call of duty to ensure that Jaffna Hospital had its oxygen supplies at a time when transport had been dislocated. No responsible official of the health services, the electricity board, or the K.K.S. cement works in Jaffna, had complained that their departments acted unfairly by them. The managements of the two cement works took unprecedented steps to ensure that even their casual employees were paid during a prolonged closure lasting four months. This is far from absolving the Sri Lankan government of abandoning its Tamil subjects to the tender mercies of the military, the S.T.F. and the home guards.

        On 20 May, a doctor travelling in an ambulance reached the Elephant Pass check point. The Ceylonese soldiers then told him that he may not proceed. The doctor pleaded and asked: "Why can I not proceed?" At this point shells fired by the L.T.T.E. started falling nearby. The soldiers promptly ran for cover. The doctor who was suddenly left alone in the middle of the road, went and stood at the back of the ambulance. At length when things had quietened down, the soldiers re-emerged. They pointed in the direction from which the firing came and exclaimed: "Mahattaya, mahattaya (Sir, Sir), look! See what those boys are doing! That is why you cannot go."

        When Operation Liberation commenced on 26 May, soldiers walked into the switch room of the C.E.B. (Ceylon Electricity Board) at Anuradhapura and ordered the power to Jaffna to be switched off. When the C.E.B. employees in the switchroom at Chunnakam (Jaffna) discovered the loss of supply, they got through to Anuradhapura by means of the carrier telephone. The Sinhalese C.E.B. employees at Anuradhapura merely confirmed that the line was switched off and put the phone down. The army remained in the Anuradhapura switchroom and left at 6:00 in the evening after ordering the Jaffna line to be switched on. This routine was to be followed for the remaining days of the operation. After the army had left, the C.E.B. personnel at Anuradhapura telephoned their colleagues in Jaffna and told them: "Sorry we cut you off that time. The army was here, so we could not speak. If the line is switched off again you may assume that it is on the army's orders. Do not 'phone us when the line is switched off. But call us after it is all over. Then we will tell you everything that happened." It is remarkable that ordinary human contact remained during those days and that the army did not want to black out Jaffna totally.

        On 28 May, at the height of Operation Liberation, a group of weary travellers arrived at Elephant Pass in a van and requested the army for permission to proceed. This was refused. The travellers then asked when they could go. A soldier replied: "A party of our boys have gone down the road. They will get a beating and come back. Then you can go." The travellers later arrived in Jaffna through Puneryn. The army at Puneryn used to check travellers, but never closed the route.

        On 4 June, a group of travellers to Jaffna were being checked at Omanthai. A lorry carrying Elephant House aerated waters was also parked at the check-point. A Sinhalese soldier bought several bottles of aerated water and started offering them to the Tamil passengers. He said: "Do not worry, I get paid plenty. My parents were settled as farmers in Omanthai and I was born here. This is my hometown and so it is my duty to do the honours in welcoming people here."

        The closure of the two cement plants at K.K.S .following the L.T.T.E.'s attack on 22 April, 1987 and the reprisal killing by the army of factory personnel was described earlier. A few weeks later on the initiative of Lanka Cement Ltd.'s General Manager, Mr. Jayamanne, to reopen the plants, the Harbour Engineer went with a maintenance crew to repair the damage. They did not like the manner in which the Sri Lankan soldiers were staring at them. Later the engineer asked the Commander of the K.K.S. Harbourview camp whether it was really safe for them to work there. The Commander replied: "We are both servants in this game. Our lives do not really matter. My advice to you is to resign and leave this country." Plans to reopen the plants were then abandoned.[Top]



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