Playing politics with security

28 September 2018 03:16 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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This is an amazing country where people play politics with the safety and security of political and military leaders, despite some of them being possible targets of remnants of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) -- the outfit that suffered a humiliating defeat nine years ago in the three-decade-long war with the armed forces.   
This divisive, malicious and irresponsible attitude on the part of ruling parties as well as the opposition has been witnessed for the past three decades, despite two key former military leaders having been killed by LTTE suicide bombers purely due to this detestable attitude of the leaders of 
successive governments.   


The situation is so amazing that even the allegation of a plot to assassinate the President and a former high-profile military official seems to have been taken lightly by those concerned. At a time when the former head of the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID), DIG Nalaka de Silva is accused of having conspired to assassinate President Maithripala Sirisena and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, IGP Pujith Jayasundara has reportedly gone to the Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya with the same TID chief. And it is further astonishing to hear Minister Rajitha Senaratne justifying it.   
The allegation has been levelled by Namal Kumara, a police informant and the Executive Director of the Anti-Corruption Movement which we never heard of before. And now, an Indian who was arrested when he visited Namal Kumara has told the police that there had been a plot to assassinate President Maithripala Sirisena and the entire Rajapaksa family. If the allegations merit investigation, as the authorities have already initiated one, and if government leaders are serious about the probe, due precautionary measures have to be taken with regard to the security of the people targeted by purported conspirators. However, Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said he had not been provided with any additional security.   

 

"SF’s contribution to war victory belittled and security detail reduced from 600 to 6 soldiers overnight when he challenged MR at 2010 Presidential polls"


Meanwhile, responding to a demand made by the joint opposition that security provided for Gotabaya Rajapaksa must be beefed up in the wake of such an alleged conspiracy, Minister Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka --who as the former Army Commander worked hand in hand with Mr. Rajapaksa towards the decimation of the LTTE leadership -- says Mr. Rajapaksa had been given 25 STF personnel and that he did not deserve any more security.   


This is nothing but pure malice and hatred on the part of the former Army Commander, in spite of him having been treated with the same hatred and malice by the Rajapaksas during the last regime. On the other hand, members of the joint opposition argue that Gota’s security must be further tightened considering the role he played in defeating the LTTE. Security is not a matter of gratitude. Even if the life of an ordinary person who had not contributed to the war victory is threatened, measures should be taken by the government to protect him or her. Needless to say that the government must provide the former Defence Secretary with adequate protection if his life seems to have been threatened.   


Mr. Fonseka is apparently in a course of tit-for-tat for what the Rajapaksas did to him when he fell out with them after the end of the war. Once in 2009, Gota described Fonseka as the best Army Commander in the world and claimed that “the Army Commander used tactics and strategies against the LTTE to which Prabhakaran could not figure out how to react.” But Fonseka’s contribution to war victory was belittled and his security detail reduced from 600 to 6 soldiers overnight when he politically-challenged Mahinda Rajapaksa at the 2010 Presidential election. He was incarcerated; he was deprived of even his medals and pension. Yet, that cannot be a reason for Gota being deprived of due protection as a citizen of the country, leave alone being the war-time Defence Secretary.   


However, in Sri Lanka, it was always party politics and not real security threat assessments that had been the criterion for the strength of security provided for various persons, especially politicians. Three classic cases in point were the withdrawal of security provided for three war veterans including Fonseka, who were in the forefront of fighting the northern war and the 
southern insurgency.   


Despite repeated requests for adequate security, the People’s Alliance (PA) Government of Chandrika Kumaratunga weakened the security provided to retired Major General Lucky Algama in the late 1990s when he teamed up with the UNP to contest the 2000 Parliamentary election. He along with 10 people was killed by an LTTE suicide bomber at an election rally in Ja-Ela on December 18, 1999, one day prior to Kumaratunga herself being targeted by another suicide bomber at the Colombo Town Hall ground.   
Major General Janaka Perera, another high-ranking army official who earned the wrath of both southern and northern rebels, had to go to the Supreme Court requesting adequate security as his security was reduced by the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government after he joined the UNP upon retirement. He too was killed along with another 26 persons including his wife by an LTTE suicide bomber on October 6, 2008, at a party office in Anuradhapura.   

 

"JO argues Gota’s security should be beefed up considering the role he played in defeating the LTTE"


The Rajapaksas might have weakened the security of their political foes and opened the door for the LTTE to kill them. Moreover, the Rajapaksas are accused of killing Welikada Prison inmates in 2012 and demonstrators at Rathupaswala, Chilaw and Katunayake, white van abductions, attacks on journalists and media institutions. But that does not justify, in any way, a repetition by this government which pledged to be different from the 
Rajapaksa regime.   


As an organisation, the LTTE is no more, but its trained cadres are still at large and the influence of its ideology is so increasingly-evident among the Tamil community that the leaders of Tamil political parties use it as a vote-pulling leverage. During the Northern Provincial Council election in 2013, C.V. Wigneswaran as TNA’s Chief Ministerial candidate glorified LTTE leader Prabhakaran as a freedom fighter.   


And three attempts to revive the LTTE have been revealed so far since the organisation was militarily defeated in May 2009 and in one such incident, three former LTTE operatives were shot dead by the military in April 2014. The thunderous ovation former State Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran received when she said at a meeting in July that “our dream is to revive the LTTE” indicates the degree of the LTTE ideology that persists among the Tamils or a section of them. It is with great reverence that people commemorated Thileepan, the onetime Jaffna commander of the LTTE who died after a 12-day fast over five demands in 1987.   

 

"Rajapaksas accused of killing Welikada Prison inmates in 2012 and demonstrators at Rathupaswala, Chilaw and Katunayake, white van abductions, attacks on journalists and media institutions"


One should not forget that Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa are two men most hated by LTTE remnants. One cannot expect that hate to vanish into thin air just because the LTTE leadership was decimated. We should recall how a convict of the Manamperi rape and murder case in 1971 was stabbed to death during the JVP’s second insurrection, seventeen years after the incident, even after he had completed his jail term for the crime. Hence, the security of Gotabaya Rajapaksa or any other individual -- especially those purportedly targeted by the alleged coup -- should not be a political issue for the ruling party or the opposition.   

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