Spectre of LTTE Returns to Haunt Jaffna?
By Buddhika Samaraweera
Jaffna Mayor Vishwalingam Maniwannan was arrested by the Jaffna Police, in the morning of 9 April, for employing five persons in uniforms similar to those worn by former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Police, set up during the war.
Police Media Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said, the suspect would be handed over to the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) and would be detained under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
Five persons in the questionable uniform had been employed in a special unit allegedly set up for the security of the Jaffna Municipal Council. Information regarding the unit, which was said to have been established for maintaining cleanliness of the Jaffna City, had been received by the Police.
DIG Rohana also said, the Police had received information that the said five persons, attached to the unit, were touring the city wearing light blue short-sleeved shirts and dark blue trousers. The Police further stated that intelligence agencies had uncovered information that photographs of this unit’s members and former LTTE Police members had been released to internet by certain individuals.
It was also reported that the Police had received complaints from people of Jaffna regarding them. The five persons in the unit had commenced their duties on 7 April. However, based on the complaints received, the five were arrested by the Police on the same day.
During the interrogation of the Municipal Commissioner of the Jaffna Municipal Council, it had been revealed the uniform had been given on the instructions of the Mayor. Even the Municipal Commissioner had admitted that the uniform was similar to the one used by the LTTE Police during the war.
Further investigations have revealed that out of 35 persons who were temporarily recruited for dengue control activities in Jaffna, five had been selected for the relevant unit following an interview. Police stated that they had allegedly been tasked with monitoring disposing of garbage in public places within the city, enforcing the law against those who run unwanted vehicle parks, and levying fines.
Commenting on this, DIG Rohana said, the TID and the Jaffna Police had launched a special investigation, on the instructions of Minister of Public Security, Rear Admiral (Retired) Sarath Weerasekera, based on information received from various parties. He further mentioned that statements were recorded from a number of witnesses including the Municipal Commissioner of the Jaffna Municipal Council and it was revealed that it was the Mayor who had decided to set up the relevant unit and recruit these persons.
Speaking further, DIG Rohana said, “According to an Extraordinary Gazette Notification issued on 11 August 2011, issued under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the use of symbols, uniforms or any material that promote the LTTE or its activities is prohibited.” He further said, after handing over Maniwannan to the TID, the suspect would be further questioned and further investigations would be conducted jointly by the TID and the Jaffna Police.