தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

Home

 Whats New

Trans State Nation Tamil Eelam Beyond Tamil Nation Comments Search

Home > Tamils - a Trans State Nation  > Human Rights & the Tamil Nation > Somasunderam Nadesan   >  On Sri Lankan Army's Attack on Peaceful Satyagrahis, 9 May 1961

On Sri Lankan Army's Attack on Peaceful Satyagrahis, April 1961

Speech delivered during the course of the debate on
The State of Emergency in the Second Senate on 9 May 1961
[see also On Sri Lankan Army's Attack on Peaceful Satyagrahis, 2 May 1961]

"...I also desire to say that this particular message from the Hon. Prime Minister with regard to 'Operation Showdown’ has been put up in a number of places and I daresay there must also have been translations of this in Sinhala, which may have been misunderstood. Certainly, in my view, this message appears to have been misunderstood by the army who are keeping up the tempo of operations at a high level and who are still hoping for the successful outcome of their operations. One really does not know what this operation is for and what the successful outcome is expected to be. Certain people feel that this is an operation of terrorism, an operation intended to strike terror into the hearts of people until they are subdued. Others feel that it is not so.

It will be a good thing if the Hon. Prime Minister clarifies the position and informs these army personnel what really is meant by this message. Having despatched her grateful thanks to the service and police officers on efficiently carrying out this immense task she says, "We must see this thing through to the end". The task had already been carried out. Having said that, what did she mean by saying, "We must see this thing through to the end and I call on every officer and man to give of his best and keep the tempo of the operation at a high level for I have complete confidence in the successful outcome of the operations. No one must relax for a moment until the task is over"? What was the outstanding task, after 19th April, 1961, which the military had not accomplished? That is what I desire to know from the Hon. Prime Minister..."


On the last occasion when I referred to the question of the emergency, I believe it was my good Friend Senator Amarasutiya, who wanted to know from me whether I had been to the Northern Province and. found out for myself the state of affairs there before I made my remarks, and I had to admit that I went on reliable correspondence in respectof the statements that I made. But since then I have taken the trouble to go to the Northern Province and find out for myself the conditions existing there. I now wish to place before the Hon. Prime Minister and her Government certain aspects of this problem as a result of my personal investigations which show me, if anything, that the statements I made on the last occasion on the floor of the House were really under-statements with regard to the state of affairs there. I cannot speak of the Eastern Province but I certainly can speak of the state of affairs in the Northern Province.

You might remember that the reason for the declaration of this emergency and the military being asked to undertake certain operations in the Northern and Eastern Provinces was to ensure that the civil administration of Government was carried on without any difficulty or impediment caused by the satyagrahis. That was the idea, because the Government found that as a result of the satyagrahis - I do not know. whether it was physically - offering physical obstruction to Government officers, it was found impossible to carryon the Government administration in a number of departments. So the military were asked to clear the obstruction and to see to it that there was no impediment from the satyagrahis in the various Government offices.

As I mentioned to you on the last occasion, within about 15 or 20 minutes of the beginning of the operations on the 17th night - Monday night - the entire area was cleared of the satyagrahis. I also mentioned that more than 100 push bicycles were beaten up and damaged. I might mention that I have confirmation now of the fact that that statement was correct because these push bicycles damaged by the military were transported to the police station, and from the police station they have been sent to the Magistrate's Court for disposal because the bicycles were damaged there.

Then, I stated that the people in Jaffna generally were not aware of the fact that a curfew was in force at that time. So, having commenced the campaign of thrashing I referred to earlier, they diverted their attention on people who really did not know that there was an emergency and a curfew on at the time. This sort of thing has been going on and is still going on.

So far as food supplies to Jaffna are concerned, I am glad to say that within a day-or two the necessary arrangements were made by Government through the various Government officers working there for the distribution of rations to the people who were deprived of their rations as a result of this so-called satyagraha campaign. That has been very satisfactory. But as regards the supply of other provisions to the Jaffna Peninsula the position is not the same. In fact, the supply of other essential provisions has been seriously interfered with in this way.

The military, for some reason which is not apparent, has undertaken the task of inspecting at the Elephant Pass barrier every single lorry which oes from Colombo to Jaffna. They do this inspection
in a peculiar way. Every single bundle or package is taken down from the lorry and put back into it. A great deal of time is spent in doing this. It is not understood why search is being conducted in this manner, especially when it is known that these lorries are transporting essential foodstuffs to the Jaffna Peninsula. I do not know what the military are searching in these food lorries. This looks like a systematic campaign. The result is that traders find it is not worth their while sending any commodities to Jaffna.

The position now is that there is a great scarcity of essential foodstuffs and articles. There is sufficient rice and flour in Jaffna but there is an alarming shortage of other essential foodstuffs on account of the activities of the Military at Elephant Pass. The effect of this vigorous inspection at the Elephant Pass barrier of all vehicles carrying foodstuffs is a great scarcity of essential articles for the use of the people. As a matter of fact, ordinary farmers who take even straw into the Jaffna Peninsula have to bring down the straw and load it again after the military have completed their inspection.

One does not know what the reason is for this sort of inspection unless of course it is for the purpose of causing the maximum inconvenience to the people because I do not think it has been suggested by anybody that this should be done. Apart from obstruction to Government officers caused to them by satyagrahis there was nothing else going on in the Jaffna Peninsula. Once the military cleared the entrances to the various Government offices, the normal day-to-day work was carried on and there was a peacef'ul population.

Even today people are travelling to Jaffna by train but there is no inconvenience caused to them. But if you travel by car and you happen to pass this check-point at the Elephant Pass barrier, every: single package must be taken out and given over to themilitary for inspection. One cannot understand why this harassment is going on at Elephant Pass, unless it is for the purpose of teaching the people of Jaffna a lesson; otherwise, one cannot see the reason for all this. The purpose of this search and inspection in this way is not clear.

By this time the military had cleared all the entrances to the various Government offices and it was possible for them to function in the normal manner. There was no possibility of any satyagrahis
gaining access to these places. At the same time that the emergency was declared, a curfew was also enforced. It must be readily accepted that villagers in Jaffna, or for that matter in other parts of the country, do not wear wrist-watches or carry with them watches to enable them to know the exact time when they should return from their places of work and remain indoors before a certain time. It is also to be expected that not every single soldier will have a wrist-watch to enable him to know the exact time when the curfew would be enforced. I suppose this is the position all over the world.

Anyway, I happened to investigate some of the steps taken to enforce the curfew in my own village and elsewhere. The position is this. By 5 o'clock the soldiers begin enforcing the curfew so that they can be sure that the people are indoors by 6 o'clock. In other words, the thrashing begins by 5 o'clock! Some poor villager who has gone to his farm and is returning home – it is likely he is out after the specified time - is thrashed even though he has not really broken the curfew.

I really do not know why this curfew should be imposed at all. It may be that some poor farmer may be fifteen minutes late, but instead of asking him to get home quickly he is thrashed. This is what has been going on. The thrashing starts well before time. After all, these poor villages have no wrist-watches to guide them, nor have all these soldiers wrist-watches to .enable them to do their job. That may be the reason why they start earlier than the proper time so that they may not be found fault with by their officers. These are some of the points I wish to bring to the notice of the Hon. Prime Minister in regard to the manner in which the curfew is being enforced.

One knows that during the enforcement of a curfew, normal business cannot be transacted. In 1958 when the late Prime Minister declared a curfew, those of us who were living in Colombo knew that in order to get about our work after hours one had to get a curfew pass. For instance, if I as a lawyer wanted to have a consultation with another lawyer friend at 7 p.m. I had to get a pass from the police. There was no difficulty about that. If I called at the nearest police station and explained the position, automatically a curfew pass was issued to me, because they never suspected that any looting, arson or anything like that would be committed. They gave me a pass for the mere asking.

But here people in remote villages of Jaffna have to go to the A.S.P. Jaffna, for the purpose of obtaining a curfew pass, which is not given except in the case of doctors and people of certain categories. There was a really sad case in one village where a lady who was giving birth to a child was actually bleeding. She had to be rushed to the hospital. The people attending on this poor lady were helpless. Fortunately, a priest who came to their rescue, broke the curfew and took the lady to hospital. Why all this? Surely, the people of .Jaffna during the satyagraha campaign were not setting fire to any huts or were guilty of looting, arson or anything like that. That is another aspect of the matter.

For some reason, only in Jaffna is Lt. Col. Udugama Co-ordinating Officer, while both in Batticaloa and Trincomalee the Government Agents, people who know_ civil administration, are the Co-ordinating Officers. This military officer was only asked to clear the passage to the Kachcheri so as to enable people to go to the offices for their work. That work of the military was accomplished within half an hour. But what else did the military do? Here I am speaking of something
which I myself saw when I went round Jaffna. Apart from the assaults which the military personnel had indulged in, I saw a number of houses which had been stoned by them. Valuable neon signs had been broken. I actually saw glass frontages smashed with stones and a number of fences broken down.

As a matter of fact, it would appear that recently the blame was put on the police by the military, with the result that the military and the police in Jaffna .came to a certain arrangement. The police said, "We will see to the patrolling of the Jaffna town within the municipality. Let no military vehicles come here in the night." But . after that, a house in which a certain lady resided upstairs and Mr. Rajasuriya, a Member of the Municipal Council of Jaffna, resided down stairs, was shot at by the military. I actually saw the glass broken there.

When complaint was made, the police officers took the trouble of going into the municipality area to see whether any military vehicle was there. Lo and behold! They found two military jeeps which had no business to be there according to the arrangement which had been arrived at. That was not the only house shot at. These military boys are trigger-happy. The whole point is that they have nothing to do. Their job was done on the 17th within 15 minutes and they had no more work to do. They were just let loose in Jaffna and they did not know what to do.

That is not all. When stones were thrown at a house one night, a complaint was immediately made by the owner of the house to the police. As a result of that complaint, the very next day the military went in full force and broke up the entire frontage of that house. I myself saw the damage that had been done. People are frightened to make complaints, because the moment they make a complaint the situation becomes worse.

I must say that, although at the very outset there were some police excesses as a result of certain circumstances, today in Jaffna the police are the only force who are, to some extent, protecting the population against the excesses of the military. In a number of instances the police have intervened to protect the people against the excesses of the military.

There are a number of instances where people have been set upon and assaulted because they made complaints to the police stationed in Jaffna. In some cases the police themselves, for fear of falling foul with the military; have discouraged people from making complaints. I was informed that a number of wristlet watches, fountain pens, purses and hand-bags had been removed by the military from passersby. For no rhyme or reason motorcars have been stopped and searched.
It appears that sometimes when the persons were cheeky or something like that; the military punctured the tyres with their bayonets. Bicycles have been smashed for no rhyme or reason.

That was the state of affairs in Jaffna after the military had resorted law and order! So far as the inhabitants of .Jaffna were concerned, there was no need for a curfew by the night of the 17th. .
One can just imagine the difficulties of the people as a result of the 48_hour curfew on the 18th and 19th. But let us overlook that. After that date, what was the position in Jaffna? The Government office were functioning and things were normal. Under those conditions, there was absolutely no reason why there should have been any curfew.

Lt. Col. Udugama. apparently interpreted the regulation which stated that the Co-ordinating Authority may impose petrol rationing to mean that it was compulsory to enforce petrol rationing in Jaffna. There was no reason at all for this. After all, there were only a few army vehicles there and the petrol stations had enough petrol to supply all their requirements. Notwithstanding this, a system of permits for the issue of petrol was introduced. As a result, the people were not only inconvenienced by having to queue up for petrol but had also to listen to the insulting remarks made by the military. In addition, it gave a good opportunity to the military to trade in petrol. As a
matter of fact, military petrol was being sold to lorry drivers at 2.50 per gallon Super Shell, when. the price was very much higher in Jaffna. What is more, sentries were stationed at petrol depots to see that no more petrol was allowed to be pumped into vehicles than the quantity shown on the permits.

In this connection, I suggest that a strict audit should straightway be conducted into the mileage done by the army vehicles, and the quantity of petrol issued to them during their period of stay in Jaffna. If that is done, there will be a revealing story, because the army personnel have been abusing these permits and disposing of the petrol. That is one advantage the military have gained as a result of the rationing of petrol in the Jaffna Peninsula.

I now come to another aspect of the matter. From the 19th onwards, the military had nothing to do in Jaffna except enforce this curfew. I do not know why this curfew should have been enforced at all. Unfortunately, they started enforcing it in the villages one hour earlier, and thrashed the villagers who innocently passed by. When this was going on, a message from the Hon. Prime Minister was received by the Army Commander on 22nd April, 1961. This was a circular to all the members of the army. This is what the message says:

"OP Showdown – Message from the Honourable Prime Minister”
,

"OP" means "Operation Showdown". That is the term applied by the army for what they have been doing in Jaffna. You will remember . "Operation Ganja", Mr. President. Usually, in respect of these operations, the military do not give the real name. A name is 'given to hide what they are doing. They say, for instance, "Operation Pluto" or something like that to disguise the real nature of the transaction. But in this case, they express precisely what is being done in Jaffna. This is the name given for the operation in Jaffna "Operation Showdown". Let me read the note issued by Lt. Col. Udugama:

”Reproduced below is a personal message from the Honourable Prime Minister. Sufficient copies of which are forwarded herewith for distribution in your depots and for display on Notice Boards. The message is reproduced in English, a Sinhala translation may be read to the men if it is possible.”

It would be interesting to know how it was translated into Sinhala and read, because while the men must have misunderstood the English they would have misunderstood the Sinhala translation more. That is by the way. The note is signed by A. R. Udugama, Lt. Col., M.B.E., C.L.I., Co-ordinating Officer, Administrative District of Jaffna. The message of the Hon. Prime Minister is as follows:

"Personal from Prime Minister. To be read to all troops and police.

When I ordered OP Showdown I said that the mandate was to ensure that Government Civil Administration is carried out in your district without impediment from satyagrahis. You had good plans and they have been executed with meticulous care. This is a very fine performance and I congratulate you all for responding to the call and rallying to the task. I want now to despatch my grateful thanks to the service and police officers and men under your control who have
carried out the immense task that was given them”

Apparently, the Government had been informed that this was a tremendous operation. The military had been given the task of doing this and they had done it. That is the impression given,
and shared by the Government. However, I do not quarrel about that. But let me stress this sentence:

"I want now to despatch my grateful thanks to the service and police officers and men under your control who have carried out the immense task that was given them"

It is an admitted fact that the task had been carried out

"We must see this thing through to the end "

This is what has led to a good deal of misunderstanding. Having done their task, the military did not know what other thing they had to do 'in order to "see this thing through to the end". They had finished their task, the Government offices and the Kachcheri in Jaffna were opened and the people were able to go there and transact their normal business. The message goes on to say:

" and I call on every officer and man to give out his best and keep the temp of the operation at a high level for I have complete confidence in the successful outcome of the operation. No one must relax for a moment until the task is over. Good luck to you all".

It is not clear to me what the Hon. Prime Minister had been informed and what she had in mind when she sent this message on 22nd April 1961. I do not want to interpret the words of the Prime Minister's message. But one thing is clear. This shows that the Hon. Prime Minister was aware of the fact that the task had been carried out, because she congratulates the officers and men on carrying out the "immense task" that was given them namely of restoring the civil administration without any impediment to the satyagrahis. That had been accomplished by the 22nd. After that date, one does not know what sort of thing the officers and men were called upon to "see through to the end" and asked to "give of their best and keep the tempo of the operation at a high level".,

There were a number of people who received this. It was obviously translated into Sinhala and delivered to them. They were conscious of only one operation that they were performing, and that was thrashing people, getting hold of people's wristlets - of which the ,Hon. Prime Minister was completely unaware - breaking windows, making roadblocks, and so on.

I forgot to mention the making of road blocks" "that was another feature of their "operation". If a commission is appointed to go into all this a lot of distinguished people who have already made complaints in respect of this matter would no doubt come forward and give evidence. These road blocks, of which we hear so much, are really put up by the military. They carry a log and place it across a road. Then they get down there merely for the purpose of thrashing , all the people round about and try to justify their action by saying that the people put the road blocks there! Whatever that may be the position is this. Of course, why should anybody believe that when a lorry goes to a particular area the military themselves put up a road block merely to enable them to get through the thrashing process!

Anyway, what I wish to point out is that this message sent by the Hon. Prime Minister, namely, that they should carryon, keep up the temp of their operation at a very high level has been interpreted by them to mean that they should continue with the thrashings, that they should continue to rob, continue to loot, continue to go into the shops and ask people

... I have been told by people that after 22nd April, after this message was delivered, as a result of a complete misunderstanding of this message, all this happened. The Hon. Prime Minister was no doubt unaware that there had been thrashings and robbings going on. The Hon. Prime Minister did not know what was happening out there. I do not know what the Hon. Prime Minister had in mind when she sent this message. I am not taking it upon myself to say what the Prime Minister had in mind. I refuse to believe that a Prime Minister of a country would have addressed such a message had she been aware of the fact that the only operation in which the military participated after 19th April was the operation of getting hold of people who did not obey the curfew and thrashing them, of robbing people of their wristlets, of walking into shops and helping themselves to goods and asking the owners to send the bill to Mr. Chelvanayakam. If the Hon. Prime Minister
knew that these were the activities that were going on, possibly she may have made the position clear.

This message was sent. It was read and posted up. It was interpreted into Sinhala. I wonder what the Sinhala interpretation for "Operation Showdown" was; what the Sinhala would have been for "keeping up the tempo at a very high level"; what "keeping up the tempo" after 19th April meant. In view of these matters I shall not say anything at all.

But what happened after 22nd April? These assaults and thrashings which I referred to continued. I do not desire to take the time of this House by giving details of the incidents, but I want to give an example of what happened after April 22nd. I will now refer to an incident that occurred on Friday the 28th. Just after 6 a.m. a number of soldiers at Tellipallai came to the public highway and started assaulting all cyclists and pedestrians who passed that way. Scores of innocent men were ruthlessly beaten up. Cycles were broken or damaged by them and the people were compelled to carry their damaged bicycles, injured as they were, and go to more peaceful areas. This went on till late in the afternoon, and in the height of their frenzy these soldiers set fire to a fence that screened the bungalow of the principal of Mahajana College, which happens to be situated just opposite the spot where these people ran amok. When they were setting fire to this place the "Daily Telegraph" correspondent, an European gentleman, happened to come there, and on seeing a white face these. shamefaced "school boys" abandoned their pastime of setting fire to premises and ran away. Yes, when they saw a white face they ran away, - these "warriors" even did that!

There is another matter I should like to refer to. This is what happened after the 28th. This is a sample of things happening in Jaffna. I do not propose to give any names; I propose to hand over to the Hon. Prime Minister particular name, the number of the jeep and other particulars so that she may cause immediate inquiries to be made in respect of this matter.

I have got with me here all the particulars. I wish only to refer to this fact. On Wednesday, 3rd May, during the noon interval some teachers of a college - I will not mentioned the name of the College but I will furnish the Hon. Prime Minister with the particulars - were returning to the college. There was an army patrol at the junction. The soldiers asked them where they were going and these teachers said they were going to school. Then the soldiers drew their attention to some tar smeared on the Sinhala letters on a signboard nearby - somebody had apparently done that in 1958; even in Colombo you still come across signboards smeared over with tar, Tamil letters smeared over with tar, "legacies!! left as a result of the trouble in 1958 - and those teachers, who were returning after an interval were asked by the military to wipe off the smears of tar.

The teachers protested and said they had nothing to do with the matter. They said they were not responsible for the smearing and they did not propose to do anything of the kind. What happened, Mr. President? These teachers were compelled, at the point of the bayonet, to wipe
off that tar.

Yes, that is the way "law and order" is being maintained! Well, the teachers being prudent people and not being satyagrahis, being ordinary, humble people, thought to themselves, "It is no use; here is a bully with a gun, what is the use of resisting that". It was not a question of a brave soldier; if you take away his gun he is like anybody else. Well anyway they said to themselves, "He has a gun; therefore the best thing to do is to remove the tar. But they took the trouble, or rather made the mistake of complaining to the police about this incident.

That was on 3rd of May. But what happened? Because they complained to the police, on the same day, the very same jeep with the very same lieutenant - as I said I have the number and the name but I shall refer to him as Lieutenant "N” - went to this college at 8 p.m. in the night and dragged out two teachers who were in the hostel and two watchers who were inside, on to the road and commenced to thrash them mercilessly. Fortunately for these teachers there is a girls school opposite and the principal of that school, alarmed by the fact that the military had earlier focussed their torches inside the girls' school premises, phoned up the Valvettiturai Police. Than a police inspector arrived on the scene. He immediately recognised this Lieutenant "N" who
was responsible for conducting the whole thing and he asked, “Mr N. what is the meaning of all this? Why are you assaulting these teachers?" Well there were words between the police on the one hand and the military on the other hand. The military, I suppose, gave the usual excuse that their victims were breaking the curfew and they were taken to the police station and bailed out - that is to say, so far as the teachers were concerned. There the matter ended on that date, on Wednesday. Thursday went by and on Friday what happened? .Just after dark, some army men get hold of a large number of coral stones, put them in an army vehicle, dropped them at the junction and went off. I am making this statement with a due sense of responsibility. I will give Madame Prime Minister all the particulars. This information will also be available in the police station records.

On Friday, after dark, they did this and went away.

Then they jumped over the walls of the college, went inside it, dragged out the two watchers who were there, told them that they had put the coral stones on the road and insisted, at that time of the night, that they should remove everyone of the stones. Accordingly the stones were removed and the military went away.
Again, on Saturday they performed a baila at the junction, invaded the premises of the girls' school, frightened the orphans, ran into the boys' school, and started banging the tables and chairs. They performed a dance making a nuisance of themselves. I do not wish to go into more details. All I wish to say is wee are told that during the satyagraha campaign remarks had been made by a number of satyagrahis and others at the army officers, calling them dogs and things like that.

The army had been referred to as dogs by satyagrahis and other people, by students in processions. It was said that they had made remarks at the army and therefore the army had been very angry with these people. I am not surprised; it is quite likely. I personally do not doubt for one moment that a thing like that happened because a satyagraha is a very difficult matter; it is difficult for people to be really so passive, non-resistant and forbearing as not to use violence or hard words. It is an almost impossible thing. Even Mahatma Gandhi, in respect of his satyagraha campaign, more than once failed because people could not rise to the occasion. It is quite likely that this has happened and the members of the army possibly had a sort of grievance against the people.

But that is no reason why a disciplined army should utilise an emergency for the purpose of having its o...m private feuds with the population settled. A disciplined army must behave like a disciplined army. It is one of those things. Either this army is following instructions given from above in carrying out this terrorist campaign... in which event it is a disciplined army; it is-only carrying out orders - or, if the position is that the army is not carrying out any such orders but is really embarking on a campaign of retaliation or terrorising people on its own then it is undisciplined. If an officer says that he is unable to maintain discipline in his force; if he has to tell the army that they should carry out his orders, then there is something wrong.

What we should try to do is to build up a disciplined army which is not concerned with politics or political considerations, which is not concerned with communities, but is determined to carry out orders given to it, and nothing more. That is what we should endeavour to build up.

But if an army is behaving in this way, or if a commanding officer can say, "I do not know what is happening, then there is something wrong. A favourite question Colonel Udugama asked the men who complained to him that the army men had damaged their neon signs or broken their windows was, "Can you give the number of the jeep?" Well, there was a curfew on and everybody was indoors. Of course, the army was outside. So these people had to say, "Sorry." Then his reply was "Well, what can I do; how can we trace the people?" That is his difficulty. But that is not an excuse. Either you have discipline in the army or you do not have it. It is most heart-rending to find that the infant army of Ceylon, if they are carrying out instructions, should behave in a highly undisciplined way. After all, the army is a brave force. They cannot behave like thugs and hooligans because they have guns in their hands. They cannot get hold of innocent people and thrash them or set fire to their fences. That is not the way in which any brave army, any army worthy of its name will behave. After all, we should see to it that an army is brought up in proper traditions, and sufficient has happened in Jaffna for the matter' to be looked into very closely from the point of view of improving the army itself, its morale and discipline.

I forgot to mention to you that not content with these things the army has also been indulging in things like this. At Karaiyur, a fishing village, they went into a place where some fisher folk had captured a number of turtles. This is their means of livelihood; they catch these turtles and sell them. The army went in there at night and released the turtles.

And when a complaint was made to Lt. Col. Udugama he said they were practising maithriya! But a very funny thing happened the very next day. This same army, which practiced maithriya on the previous day, carried away ten goats! The appropriate complaint has been made to the police, but so far no one knows anything about the whereabouts of the goats.

The suffering of the Tamil people in this way, undergoing certain inconvenience and discomfort, being thrashed, being threatened and terrorised, their foodstuffs not even reaching them; in the normal way as a result of the military activities at Elephant Pass; all these things would mean nothing in the history of a country or nation. After all, what is it that these people have suffered when compared with what so many minorities in Eastern Europe or the Polish people and many others have suffered right down the centuries? These are not things about which people need be unduly alarmed. These are not things that will break the morale of a people. If they do, they do not deserve to live. These terrorist tactics will not have the slightest effect on their morale and their determination to win their legitimate rights for their language. But I am only concerned about these happenings as one who is interested in the welfare of our country.

I am bringing these things to the notice of the Hon. Prime Minister and this House for the purpose of seeing to it that we have an army which is disciplined, brave and courageous. The army is there, in a situation such as this, to protect the people. We must not have under the guise of an army a set of armed thugs and hooligans who, because they have guns, are prepared to inflict their power on poor unarmed people who cannot fight back. It is for that reason that I thought these things should be brought to the notice of the Hon. Prime Minister.

I also desire to say that this particular message from the Hon. Prime Minister with regard to 'Operation Showdown’ has been put up in a number of places and I daresay there must also have been translations of this in Sinhala, which may have been misunderstood. Certainly, in my view, this message appears to have been misunderstood by the army who are keeping up the tempo of operations at a high level and who are still hoping for the successful outcome of their operations. One really does not know what this operation is for and what the successful outcome is expected to be. Certain people feel that this is an operation of terrorism, an operation intended to strike terror into the hearts of people until they are subdued. Others feel that it is not so.

It will be a good thing if the Hon. Prime Minister clarifies the position and informs these army personnel what really is meant by this message. Having despatched her grateful thanks to the service and police officers on efficiently carrying out this immense task she says, "We must see this thing through to the end". The task had already been carried out. Having said that, what did she mean by saying, "We must see this thing through to the end and I call on every officer and man to give of his best and keep the tempo of the operation at a high level for I have complete confidence in the successful outcome of the operations. No one must relax for a moment until the task is over"? What was the outstanding task, after 19th April, 1961, which the military had not accomplished? That is what I desire to know from the Hon. Prime Minister.


 

Mail Us Copyright 1998/2007 All Rights Reserved Home