Whose wrong - Reply

A Brief Response to Mr. Sebastian Rasalingham's article on "The 1983 'Balck-July' pogram and police inaction" of March 8, 2013

| by Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

( March 9, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) I usually agree with Mr. Rasalingam’s stand on many matters relating to the communal problem in Sri Lanka. However, the article referred to above bothers me much. I raise these issues in point form below:

1. The 1983 riots were spontaneous and not premeditated:
On the contrary it was premeditated and well planned. JRJ wanted it and defended it with his rousing words even during the riots. The bodies of the 13 dead soldiers were deliberately brought by him to Kanatte against sane advice. This riot was logistically too well organized for it to have been spontaneous. JRJ wanted to teach the Tamils a lesson of their lives and scare them and the LTTE away from the course they were taking His follow-up actions clearly confirm his intent. Please research details. The LTTE was dabbling only in what could be termed ‘Small boy (Podian) war games’ at this point in time. Remember also the orders given by JRJ to Brigadier ‘Bull’Weeratunge to defeat terrorism within 24 hours and its aftermath in Jaffna; and the burning of the Jaffna library with which his ministers were associated. I have no doubt the evil genius of JRJ was at work in the 1983 riots, backed by men like Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali and Cyril Mathew. Unfortunately, those who were leading the Tamils or were trying to lead the Tamils did not learn the right lessons from all the anti Tamil riots in Ceylon/ Sri Lanka.

2. The LTTE involvement:
The LTTE did not plan it, but provided the trigger. However, the outcome benefitted both the GOSL and the LTTE. The process to make the Tamils a 'Manageable Minority' as advised by N.U. Jayawardene was put in place and the Tamils left the country in droves. Tamil youth also joined Tamil militant movements including the LTTE in droves. The Tamil problem also became internationalised. Tamil militancy grew by leaps and bounds backed by India.

3. Police inaction and the silence of Tamil Police Officers:
I can only draw parallels from the 1977 riots in Kandy. The police did not intervene until the army was mobilized after the damage was done. I visited the Kandy police station on the first day of the riot to meet Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr.Shanmugam. He had a reputation to have led the battle against the JVP from the front in 1970-71. I found him very dejected in his office. He had lost control of his subordinates of all ranks. They were lounging around happily, when there was mayhem all around. I complained to him that my house was being attacked. He could not do anything. I mentioned this in my evidence to the Sansoni Commission.

I would surmise that the policemen had unwritten orders not to intervene in the both the 1977 and 1983 riots. The Tamil police officers were powerless and neutered as a result. No Tamil police officer of whatever rank has been able to use the power accruing to him through his office and rank, since. The same thing has happened to the entire police service now. The police are at the beck, call and command of the politicians.
The silence of the police officers you refer should be understood in this context. There were victims as well.