all towns are
one, all men our kin.
|Home||Trans State Nation||Tamil Eelam||Beyond Tamil Nation||Comments||Search|
Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
Sri Lanka's 'broad front' attack was actually a 'steamrollering' and destroying says Kalkat
But there was a difference between 'what the IPKF tried to do' and the nature of President Kumaratunga's genocidal attack.
It was a difference that was spelt out with disarming candour by Lt.General Amarjit Kalkat in an interview with N.Ram, reported in the Indian magazine Frontline on 29 December 1995. It was Lt.General Amarjit Kalkat who had directed the IPKF campaign in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990 and he spoke with the knowledge of an insider:
"N.Ram: What would be the number of (Sri Lanka) troops, the ballpark figure?
Kalkat: The number has been spelt out. They've got over 100,000 clearly. This army is now more effective, better than in the past. That's a fact... But, they went about it (the attack on Jaffna) in a very deliberate manner ... they have therefore followed a strategy of a broad front...Now a broad front advance is a very secure method of doing it. Because you can never be off balance. But, to do a broad front you need large forces, which they have got. It is much more time-consuming.
You need time, which they have got; they're in no hurry. And thirdly it causes a lot of destruction because you are actually steamrollering through the area. Step by step. Do a certain distance first, then clean up, converge on the next one. Any building from which resistance comes or where there is likely to be resistance, bring it down with air bombing or with tank fire.
You clean up. But then as you pass -- you're leaving behind rubble as you go. So that was the other problem for which they have resorted to censorship so that this doesn't come out.
They make sure that all factors which would assist in their operation have been taken care of. Time is with them; they have concentrated overwhelming force for a broad front; they have made sure that there is no adverse publicity (world opinion, the press, doesn't know what is happening there, because it's all controlled).
... And as they're coming on a broad front, they're clearing everything, then deliberately doing the next bit, say another two kilometres or one kilometre, bringing down everything which opposes, any building, any other things from where the militants can take cover and fire or use explosives. This, of course, ensures that your casualties are less. For you are not risking yourself at all.
The strategy was different (to our IPKF strategy). Here they followed a broad front, we (the IPKF) followed -- I had no option -- a narrow front strategy. That was the main change I did when I took over command. Because, (a) a broad front would have taken a long time, (b) it would need a lot of troops, I did not have that, (c) it would have meant a lot of destruction and civilian casualties, that would not be acceptable to either to my government or to me, and (d) we did not want the civilians to leave Jaffna.
Our objectives were different to that extent. We had gone there to assist their rehabilitation, not to uproot them. So therefore, if we were to go and reduce Jaffna in the conventional manner, they would have been homeless for all time to come after that! "