B. Muralidhar Reddy

Military says hundreds crossing over from LTTE areas

COLOMBO: Close on the heels of the capture of Vaharai in the east, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that terrorism, that many once swore cannot be defeated, is now crouching in fear because his Government faced up to that challenge.

Speaking at a function to mark inauguration of the Moragahakanda reservoir construction in North Central Province, Mr. Rajapaksa claimed on Thursday that security forces have the ability, will and strength to defeat terrorism. "Trust in them, for they have proved it in the East."

He told the gathering that apart from trust, the main secret about the success of his Government on terrorism front is that it did not give "political targets or goals" to the armed forces.

"We did not sell or market the war for our benefit. It was the driving away of commission demons from the Ministry of Defence. Together with that we introduced the politics of cooperation in place of the politics of hatred".

Mr. Rajapaksa said he very strongly believed that the most powerful weapon against communalism is being fair and doing justice to the innocent Tamil people. If not, he said, the cruel forces of communalism can completely destroy the great Sri Lankan civilisation. "We should understand this danger very well."

He said the beneficiaries of the Moragahakanda Maha Samudra project are the people of the North Central Province and those in the North and East.

"Remember that what we will douse with the waters released from Moragahakanda to the North and East, the fire of communalism spread in those two areas by deadly terrorism. Had this project been implemented 20 or 30 years ago; had expressways from Colombo to Jaffna and Batticaloa been constructed then as it is proposed today, we can be certain that the terrorism of the LTTE would have been stillborn".

Mr. Rajapaksa said his Government is a people's Government and the door is open for anyone who loves the country to join it on one condition.

"The policies of the Mahinda Chinthana should be respected, because it represents the national aspirations of this country". Separately, the military said in a statement around 400 civilians crossed into the Government controlled area in Polwatta from the LTTE held Thoppigala and Kiran increasing the total number of arrivals to 1,607 since last Tuesday.

It said civilians who crossed over to cleared areas from Vaharai, further north of Batticaloa, revealed details on how the LTTE forcibly detained them as a cover against retaliation by the security forces.

"LTTE harassments in Vaharai have instilled fear in Tamils in other terrorist active areas. Thus, they are arriving in numbers to cleared areas seeking protection and basic necessities deprived to them by the LTTE in other areas", the statement said.