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Analysis: Questions about the Bomb Blasts
[ Sun Jan 2, 2000, GMT 16:57 ]

By: K.T.Rajasingham

Political observers feel that transparency and accountabilities are two important elements lacking with the Sri Lankan government. They further feel that the Government's disregard and contempt for human rights of the Tamils have resulted in barbarous acts that have outraged the conscience of the humanity. Anyhow the compelling points raised above need truthful answers. Is it possible to get such answers soon? May be one day the culprits would come out with the harrowing story? It is our hope against hope until the naked truth prevails over half truths, fabricated lies and misinformation campaigns.


A bang, followed by whimper, little wailing and a dour appearance in the television with three small patches of plasters on the face, has done the trick. On 22 December, the acting Commissioner of Elections announced that, by obtaining 51.12% percent of votes in the polling held on the previous day, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge has won in her re-election bid for presidency. Whilst the world was amazed at the last minute turn around of fortune, the oppositions were left alone whooping at their despondency.

The re-elected President, at a brief ceremony, took the oath of office as Sri Lanka's fifth Executive President on the same day afternoon at the "Temple Trees,' her official residence. Also, on the same day, a swearing ceremony was held for the same old faces, who were members in her previous cabinet of ministers. Finally, on the same day she left for London.

Even though the Presidential election - the comical circus, at last over, the ramification of this election still lingers on without any clarity on the train of events that led to the election victory of Chandrika Kumaratunge, for a second six-year term. It was a well-orchestrated mystery drama, could be code named - "Operation Anugambava" (Sympathy) enacted cleverly, subsequently legitimized with the aid of the law enforcement agencies and the international print and electronic media.

It is alleged that, the bomb explosion and the assassination bid was a cleverly designed staged managed PR (Public Relations) ploy, intended to bring about victory to Chandrika Kumaratunge, by generating unceasing wave of sympathy, in her re-election bid. Already, it was confirmed that, Ranil Wickremasinghe, the Leader of the United National Party (UNP) and the opposition candidate was gaining support in the midst of the voters and his chance of victory was high. At this backdrop, it is alleged that a cleverly devised drama unfolded on the evening of 18 December 1999, at the People Alliance (PA) Colombo Town Hall meeting venue.

By 9.30 in the evening, after her address in the final public rally, she was walking towards her car waving to her ministers and talking with journalists of some foreign media. Suddenly, a bomb exploded, pandemonium broke and people began to run for their life. The impact of the explosion brought the President face-down to the rough terrain of the ground. According to reports, she lay on the ground motionless for sometime un-noticed. Due to the impact of the explosion she fell down, her face hitting the ground forcefully and might have sustained bruises on her face. Analysts have ruled out the chances for any projectile to have caused her of any injuries. They are of the opinion that, if she has sustained any injuries caused by some projectiles, then there was chances of her being injured in other parts of her body. Fortunately she was not hit by any projectiles, but there was every chance for her face to be bruised due to the heavy impact of her fall. Also there was a chance for some protruded object or objects, that was in the ground injuring her.

Immediately, she was whisked away to a private hospital in Colombo for treatment. Detail regarding the treatment she received was not disclosed. There was no official medical bulletin, but it was later announced that, she was out of danger and recuperating. Whilst admitted in the hospital, according to reports, she started attending to her official duties. By 20 December, she was discharged from the hospital and was again back at her official residence attending to photo-sessions and appearing in the television. President survived the so- called assassination attempt. The latest medical report issued by the Sri Lankan High Commission in London, after the conclusion of a complete medical check up by the British doctors, clarified that President does not require any surgery and she is fit to resume normal duties forthwith. In the recent interview with BBC she had said that she is beginning to loose sight in her left eye. Kindly be remembered of the saying that "All are not saints that goes to church."

The big question that looms in everyone's mind, at this point of time is about whether there was any serious assassination attempt on the life of the President of by the most ruthless militant organization, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam? (LTTE) Or, whether some other organization or group was behind this failed attempt? If someone who has followed and studied the campaign tactics of the LTTE very closely, then it is natural for them to have such-like lingering doubts in their mind.

According to reports, there were two separate bomb explosions on 18 December 1999. The first one was at the Colombo Town hall venue, where People's Alliance (PA) rally was held. Shortly afterwards, another bomb exploded at the gathering of the main opposition's UNP rally in Ja-ela, a Colombo suburb, killing at least eight people, including a former army commander, Major General Lucky Algama and wounding more than 70 people.

The UNP, the main opposition party, blamed the ruling People's Alliance for the bomb blast, and demanded an investigation by a team of officers from Scotland Yard into the bomb explosions. Government ignored the opposition's demand. Instead, the Inspector General of Police said that, on the orders of the President, two separate commissions consisting of police officials were set up to investigate the bomb blasts. Several people have voiced their concern about the hidden motive behind such commissions led by local police officers, instead of calling for impartial international team of investigators.

According to reports, only one explosion was heard at the PA rally, where the President attended, and in which she survived, but the incident took a heavy toll by killing 26 and wounding more than 107 people. It was a chance survival that led to her election victory, but the nature of the so called survival was intriguing one.

Every one including the media and the law enforcement agencies have alleged that the attempt to assassinate the President was the work of the Tamil Tigers. When they saw a faceless dead person, a stump of a female body that was mutilated by the bomb blast, immediately a parallelism was drawn to that of the Rajiv Gandhi's assassination. The ruling party leaders, the police along with the local and international media, screamed with a concocted story, that a female suicide bomber was behind the assassination attempt on the life of the President.

Why they rushed to judgment? What was the motive in implicating the Tamil separatists in this particular bomb blast? It was not the first bomb blast during the election eve. On 14 November 1999, at an election rally of the UNP held at Eppawala, 175 km north of Colombo, a bomb blast was reported, where one died and 42 others injured. Ranil Wickremasinghe survived because the bomb exploded immediately after he left the meeting venue. Hundred of other incidents of violence and intimidation were reported by the oppositions against the goons of the ruling party. Unfortunately, the Government failed to take any serious note against those complaints. But when there was a bomb blast at the rally where the President addressed, immediately they alleged without any factual analysis or proven evidence, that it was the work of the Tamil Tigers.

Are the LTTE behind this failed attempt? How did they manage to penetrate the security cordon and attempted to go near to the President? Why did they fail?. Up to now, no one has come forward with any plausible reply. Why? Is it because the purpose of the blast is over and the election victory is already registered? Is it because no one is no more interested in finding any reply? Is it because every one knew the answers, but are not able or unwilling to divulge details? These lingering questions need answers.

What ever said and done, the LTTE is an organization that does things to its maximum perfection. They have successfully attacked their enemies on numerous occasions. Up to now, according to analysis, their hate and vengeance campaign, considered a part of their liberation war, were completed with one hundred percent perfection. They plan professionally without giving room for any let-ups or eventualities.

Tigers' vengeance killing said to have started for the first time on 27 July 1975, when they first targeted Alfred Durriyappah, a former Mayor of Jaffna, penultimately on 29 July 1999, that of Neelan Thiruchelvam, the member of Parliament, Deputy leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) and the internationally reputed constitutional lawyer, and ultimately on 2 September 1999, that of the serial killer and terror N. Manikkathasan, the Deputy Leader of the People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), where in those operations, they have meticulously planned and successfully attacked their targets. It was said that they have failed only in the case of M.Sivasithamparam, President of TULF. Again it was told that on 13 July,1989 the target of their attack was only Appapillai Amirthalingham, the Secretary General of the TULF and not any one else. Unfortunately, Sivasithamparam, on that fateful day was at a wrong place and at a wrong time. Assassins were forced to silence him by spraying bullets on him, but not to kill him. That is why he survived. Further we received conflicting reports that the set of assassins who went to target Amirthalingham went without any implicit orders of the LTTE high command due to some serious mix-ups.

The above fact goes to prove of the professional approach of the LTTE in their hate killing campaigns. One has to conclude that the alleged attempt on the life of the President is not the hall mark of a professional maneuver of the Tigers. Therefore, it is very hard to digest that the Tigers were behind the failed attempt. If the Tigers were the culprits who have attempted such a heinous crime on the life of the President of the country, they would not have failed on their targets and there is no question of survival. Taking into consideration of all their previous campaigns, they have succeeded one hundred percent with their targets. Even if we take it for granted that this time there was a slip in their planning, why the back-up team of the LTTE finish the job? We have seen in all their operations that there was always a back-up team ready to pounce on the target, in case the initial operation fails. Those who follow the LTTE's operations would agree with me.

In the case of the failed assassination attempt on the life of Chandrika Kumaratunga, we have not heard of the presence of the Tiger back-up team pouncing on the President, when the exploded bomb was not fatal enough. This goes to show that the failed attempt was not the work of the separatist Tamil militants. This error-prone operation was the handy work of some novices hired by some individual or group to create confusion in the minds of the voting public of Sri Lanka and with the sole intention to create a wave of sympathy.

Even the Sri Lankan security forces who have analyzed every single operation conducted by the Tigers are aware of the operational tactics of the Tiger's. Why they went along with the PA leaders in blaming the Tigers is still a mystery. May be they were ordered to remain silence by the superiors. This is only a guess and need confirmation.

It was highly unfortunate that the international print and electronic media representatives have failed to analyze the nomenclature of the bomb explosion. In haste and in the heat of the unfolding events, they have wrongly jumped to conclusions hoping that no one would question their judgments. Any how, even though these journalists are to be blamed for this protracted ethnic conflict by reporting partisan views, but they cannot be blamed, as most of those representatives are from the Sinhalese ethnicity and also they are not specialists other than, reporters of events. In the heat of the moment, they might have been prey to the main players, by filing their reports alleging the bomb explosion as the handy work of the Tigers.

The most intriguing aspect in this Presidential election is the role played by the former Tamil militants, who presently work with the Sri Lankan armed forces as para-military forces, as well as with the President, as a counter LTTE arm. Even earlier, in the Presidential election held on 19 December 1988, where Ranasinghe Premadasa successfully competed and won the presidency, as well as in the general elections for the ninth parliament held on 15 February 1989, it was alleged that the former Tamil militants played a very significant role in the victory of Premadasa and the UNP, in the Presidential and parliamentary elections.

The very same former Tamil militants, who are presently with Chandrika Kumaratunge, earlier worked closely with Premadasa during the height of the Sinhalese youths' insurrection. In 1988, the Southern and Western part of the country experienced the upsurge of the Janata Vimukthi Perumuna (Peoples Liberation Front, JVP) insurrection. In 1988, Vijay Kumaratunge, the actor turned politician and the spouse of the present President was also a victim of the Marxist oriented Sinhalese terrorist organization. At that particular point of time, fearing for the safety of her children, Chandrika Kumaratunge quietly slipped out of Sri Lanka with her two children to London and returned only after a lapse of two years, when Premadasa completely routed the Sinhalese insurgents.

According to reports it was alleged that Premadasa deployed in each parliamentary constituency, a group consisting of nearly 25 hard-core former Tamil militants under the infamous Green Tigers to intimidate the Sinhalese voters. It was alleged that the covert and clandestine operations of the former Tamil militants in the predominantly Sinhalese populated urban and rural areas bore fruit and thus helped Premadasa in his election.

Similarly, political analysts are of the view that the ruling party has employed the former Tamil militants to intimidate voters and also to disrupt election rallies of the oppositions. As these former Tamil militants possessed skill in handling bombs and other explosive materials, the ruling party might have commandeered the services of these militants for all the dirty works during the election campaign. May be it is highly speculated that one of the work must have been the bombing of the PA rally, without causing any bodily harm to the President, to generate sympathy of the Sinhalese chauvinist voters.

In the meantime, Colombo Chief Magistrate D.G.Kulatileke ordered the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to review the video film relating to the bomb blast at the last election campaign meeting of the People's Alliance at the Town Hall at which 26 people were killed and several others, including the President were wounded. The court made the directive at the Magisterial Inquiry into the deaths.

The court held that the deaths were as a result of the bomb blast. The court also ordered the CID to hand over the video film to its custody after viewing it.

Political observers feel that transparency and accountabilities are two important elements lacking with the Sri Lankan government. They further feel that the Government's disregard and contempt for human rights of the Tamils have resulted in barbarous acts that have outraged the conscience of the humanity. Anyhow the compelling points raised above need truthful answers. Is it possible to get such answers soon? May be one day the culprits would come out with the harrowing story? It is our hope against hope until the naked truth prevails over half truths, fabricated lies and misinformation campaigns.

Courtesy: TamilCanadian ( Jan. 02, 2000 )

E-Mail: ktraja@loxinfo.co.th

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