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The ‘mysterious deaths’ must be probed and put to rest

18 August 2016 12:02 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Tamil community especially in the North appear to be agitated  about reports of the “mysterious deaths” of former cadres of the  Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who had undergone rehabilitation  under the supervision of the army after the end of the war. Some Tamil  politicians have attributed these deaths to some kind of treatment given  to former LTTE cadres during their rehabilitation.   


Already the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) has adopted a  motion initiated by its Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran on August 9  calling upon the government to release all medical records pertaining to  the ex-LTTE cadres maintained during their incarceration or  rehabilitation and to seek international medical assistance to ascertain  the causes of the deaths and to facilitate inquiries and provide medical  assistance to the surviving cadres. Three days after the motion was  passed in the NPC the Provincial Health Minister P. Sathyalingam had  convened a meeting of medical specialists at his ministry where it had  been decided to conduct medical examinations on randomly selected 50  former rebel cadres who had undergone rehabilitation from each of the  five districts in the Northern Province.   


In fact the allegation does not seem to have a strong  foundation, in spite of the Tamil media being obsessed with various  types of news and feature articles strongly suggesting that there is an  issue. The whole issue has been created following a statement made by a  former guerrilla that he had been administered an injection during his  rehabilitation after which he was so physically weak that he could not  carry even ten kilos. This followed another claim by Northern provincial  councilor Thurairasa Ravikaran that 107 former LTTE cadres who had  undergone rehabilitation had died under mysterious circumstances.   


However, there is no specific pattern reported in these  deaths. Various people had died of various causes. All those who had  died might have obtained treatment before their deaths from the  hospitals and none of the deaths had been reported as suspicious so far.  They talk about the deaths of former insurgents generally, but  ironically not about specific cases.  

 
The leadership of the main Tamil political coalition, the  Tamil National Alliance (TNA) do not seem to be too keen to be involved  in this controversy. It was only an ordinary TNA member who raised this  matter recently in Parliament, whereas it should have been raised by a  leader if the allegation had a strong foundation and provable, since  this is an extremely serious matter. Besides, even the Chief Minister of  the Northern Province who presented the motion on the matter to his  council was cautious about the veracity of the allegation while  addressing the members. He said “There needs to be an investigation into  the issue raised. We should not jump to conclusions.”   


Minister Rajitha Senaratne while addressing the media last  week and the previous week had said the government was prepared to  conduct medical tests on former LTTE cadres who had undergone  rehabilitation if such a request was made formally. However, none of the  Tamil politicians who make a fuss about the matter in the media has  come forward to formally take up the issue with the relevant government  leaders or officials.   


On the other hand, the government cannot brush this  allegation aside as the Tamil community is agitated despite it seeming  to be unfounded. Already a section of the political leadership of that  community has initiated its own investigation. One option left to the  government now is to assist them in their investigation with expertise  while closely monitoring its progress. The other option is to initiate  its own probe and allay doubts.   

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