B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: A day after the assassination of its Deputy Chief of Army Parami Kulathunga by a suspected LTTE member, Sri Lanka declared that it was reverting to security arrangements prevalent prior to the February 2002 ceasefire pact with the Tamil Tigers.

The announcement here late on Monday night came even as United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged all sides to return to the negotiating table.

The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) said in the wake of the stepped up violence by the LTTE it had re-activated or re-introduced all security measures in Government-controlled areas that remained operational before the 2002 Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA).

Security arrangements

The SLA said security forces and police had taken steps to strengthen security arrangements.

"Accordingly, the troops serving at all points including the new ones will conduct thorough checking with immediate effect after re-introducing road barriers and other checkpoints, as deemed necessary. Transport of all consignments of consumer goods and other items into cleared areas will also thus be brought under one hundred per cent checking at these points."

A political analyst said revival of the pre-2002 security measures would cause hardship to the civilian population.

"Following the 2002 CFA the Government was not implementing provisions of Prevention of Terrorism Act in letter and spirit. Several items like iron bars, urea, small batteries, steel balls and cement banned were allowed to be transported freely. May be the Government would consider a kind of permit system for movement from North to South and vice versa.

"Perhaps these steps are required in view of the prevailing security scenario but the common people would not be the ultimate suffers," he said.

Annan's appeal

In a statement from New York, Mr. Annan condemned the Monday attack and urged resumption of the peace process.

"The Secretary General appeals to the parties to redouble their efforts to resume peace talks under the facilitation of the Norwegian Government," his spokesman said in a statement referring to negotiations between the Government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).