Former Chief Minister of the Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran who always seeks popularity among Tamils in the North by provoking Sinhalese has again opened a can of worms by belittling the great service rendered by the security forces, especially the Army in rescuing and providing relief to the people of Wanni who were caught in the recent floods in the area.
The once respected Supreme Court judge who was famous for his independence during his legal profession had ridiculed the army and thereby ridiculed himself as well by saying after the Wanni floods receded that the army was helping the people in order to get over the war crimes charges. What a malicious utterance it was!
One cannot expect such a spiteful remark even from Prabakaran, the slain leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who fought tooth and nail against the security forces and always tended to put them down. When the 2004 December tsunami hit the island, especially the eastern coast of it, the members of the LTTE and the security forces had rescued each other from the killer waves and LTTE ideologue Anton Balasingham had openly appreciated it later. No LTTE leader, Prabakaran, Balasingham or any other did denigrate the motive of the security forces for their help towards the organisation’s marooned cadres by saying that they did it with ulterior motives.
What would have happened to the Wanni people had not the security forces helped them to evacuate from the marooned areas and provided them with food and other essential items? Who else were there and who else had the wherewithal in the area which is still struggling to come out of the effects of the thirty year long war to help the people when such a calamity had befallen them? Did Mr. Wigneswaran mobilize the member of his Tamil Peoples Council (TPC) for the purpose or at least did it have the capacity to do so, as the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) does during disasters?
On the other hand, Tamil leaders, especially those who campaign for the withdrawal of the security forces from the north and the east would have cried foul had the three armed forces refrained from helping the flood hit people. Wigneswaran very well knows that the armed forces helped the disaster hit people not only in the North, rather it was they who played the main role in rescue and relief operations during a similar flood situation in the Kelani Valley in 2016 and in Matara District in 2017.
The reason for many Tamil leaders to view the security forces as aliens is sometimes political, sometimes historic and at times emotional. Leave alone the Tamils, even sections of the Sinhalese people and southern political leaders view the armed forces as Sinhalese forces and not national forces. When the armed forces performed their duty during the Wanni floods as forces entrusted with ensuring the safety and security of all communities in the country, some people in the south seemed to portray it as the magnanimity of the Sinhalese towards the Tamils. Despite the commitment of the three armed forces in helping the marooned people being highly commendable, it was not magnanimity, it was their unavoidable duty which they performed to the hilt, even risking their own lives.
Tamil people, especially their leaders still seem to have the war-time mentality towards the armed forces. The security forces were Sinhalese forces for them then, due to the objective factor that the three armed forces were at war with a group of their clan. Due to such emotional and historical grounds, Tamil people were very slow in coming out of this war-time mindset hostile to the armed forces. Besides, Tamil politicians add a political colouring as well to this mindset and get mileage of it, but unfortunately at the expense of their own people.
Tamil leaders might know that political “power emanates from the Barrel of a gun” in any country, as Mao Tse-tung once said. Therefore, one cannot see the State and the armed forces separated. If they accept the already established State power, they have to accept at least a limited presence of armed forces as well in every part of the country. Besides protecting the State, armed forces are entrusted to protect the people as well.