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Military Matters

 

 

But, observers lament that even at this late stage, no initiatives are being made to even open Lankan diplomatic consulates in these states to harness such goodwill and build on them for mutual benefit, except for a few forays to emulate the silicon valley of Karnataka. Instead, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama is seen visiting far away places like Brazil, spending millions of rupees almost on a daily basis, with questionable benefit to the country. The only beneficiaries, without any doubt, are him and his family holidaying world over in maximum comfort at the expense of the poor tax payer. While lobbying is an art the world over to correctly espouse one’s case, we are not even doing that at our doorstep in southern India, where it is needed the most to counteract the most ruthless terror outfit in the world

 

Lankan DPL offensives woefully lacking where it is needed most

As the noose tightened round more crucial LTTE held positions in the North this week, almost by cue its Tamil Nadu proxies raised their decibel levels in trying to get the Indian Government to halt the Sri Lankan military drive once again, as was done in 1987.

By Tuesday, an all-party meeting summoned by the state’s ruling DMK headed by Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi issued a blunt warning to the Central Government that if there is no halt to the war and there is no ceasefire within two weeks, 39 MPs from the state would resign. On the same day, Mr. Karunannidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi, submitted her resignation saying that it was for the party to take “an appropriate decision at the appropriate time.” This so-called all-party meeting was, however held without the Chief Opposition Party AIADMK led by Jayalalitha and its allies MDMK, the BJP and DMDK as they all chose to boycott it.

Though it is very unlikely that India would intervene in the Lankan matter, as it hastily did in 1987; having burnt its fingers badly, losing as much as 1200 of its peace keepers sent here, we should also keep in mind the political realities there with Premier Manmohan Singh led coalition government needing to call parliamentary elections by May next year. Dr Singh’s ruling United Progressive Alliance is already somewhat shaky, with the Left having withdrawn their support after the nuclear deal with the US and the Samajawadi Party, which voted for the government on the same issue, sending conflicting signals of its support.

The current fallout could have been mitigated to a great extent; according to India watchers, had Sri Lanka harnessed the tremendous goodwill towards us, especially in the rest of South India, ignored by successive governments in Colombo up to now. Though without doubt, we have been having much interaction with Tamils throughout history, ties with other Dravidian races there had been no less, with most castes here being rooted there. So much so, even some of the most prominent families here like the Jayewardenes and Bandaranaikes have proven traceable roots to South India.
People of Kerala readily identify with Sinhalese, with many direct blood decedents here even to this day. The identified Telegu community from Andra Pradesh alone is said to number more than 200,000 in Sri Lanka. Similarly, historic links with people of Karnataka are no less.

But, observers lament that even at this late stage, no initiatives are being made to even open Lankan diplomatic consulates in these states to harness such goodwill and build on them for mutual benefit, except for a few forays to emulate the silicon valley of Karnataka. Instead, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama is seen visiting far away places like Brazil, spending millions of rupees almost on a daily basis, with questionable benefit to the country. The only beneficiaries, without any doubt, are him and his family holidaying world over in maximum comfort at the expense of the poor tax payer. While lobbying is an art the world over to correctly espouse one’s case, we are not even doing that at our doorstep in southern India, where it is needed the most to counteract the most ruthless terror outfit in the world.

True we need to watch our backs, especially where the West is concerned, despite all their homilies about fighting terror, but even as the 1987 “parippu” drop revealed, it is not the White House or the Whitehall that call the shots in the region. So, we better learn very quickly to harness goodwill across the Palk Strait, better than the terrorists.

There were no blitzkriegs to take Kilinochchi town, understandably this week, with monsoon rains bringing untold misery to frontline soldiers without any roof over their heads. Obviously, nothing like tents or canopies can be erected in the frontlines, as that would only give away your position to the enemy, so often in knee-deep water those poor soldiers are risking their life and limb for the country in hastily dug up trenches. As we said last week, even tractors were finding it extremely difficult to manage the terrain in supplying thousands of troops spread through out the northern front and evacuating the wounded.

Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka too is out of the country these days, believed to be on a short private visit to the US.
At the same time, the army was not resting either. By Friday, troops had virtually cut off Nachchikudah, having surrounded it from all sides except some gaps to the sea. For the LTTE now, Nachchikudah is all but lost with its supply lines cut off. Cadres left to hold it will now have to either starve to death or make a run for it, hoping to escape by sea.

The Task Force 1 or the 58 Division led by Brig Shavendra Silva, which earlier by-passed Nachchikudah to the west of A-32 Hi-way and advanced northward; also completed the capture of Vannerikulam and Manniyankulam by Thursday this week, having systematically surrounded the towns in the past few weeks. Its units are now only some 18 kilometres from Pooneryn on the A-32. The capture of the remaining stretch to Pooneryn, would more or less seal the Northwestern coast to Tiger smuggling operations from India.

The 58-3 brigade commanded by Col. Suraj Bansajayah captured the A-32 some eight kilometers north of Nachchikudah under the leadership of Lt. Col. Vajira Welagedera.
Small commando teams operating further northeast behind enemy lines in the Valappadi region, last week blew up yet another jeep carrying a Tiger leader, accompanied by four trail bike outriders. The target had been the vehicle of Deputy Sea Tiger leader Chelian.

At Oddusudan too, a bus carrying Tiger cadres was also targeted killing five of them.
The fourth brigade added to the 57 Division two weeks ago to strengthen its eastern flank and has taken out as many as 30 LTTE vehicles and a motorcycle on the A-9 towards Mankulam bringing Tiger traffic to a halt on this stretch.

Despite weather affecting its mobility, the 57 Division did make much use of small team operations during the week. The Bravo Company and Charlie Company in particular of the 4th Sinha regiment had bagged more than a dozen or so Tiger cadres on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, east of Akkarayankulam, troops of the Sinha regiment who were earlier the target of gas attacks, were this time the target of Tiger psy-ops, using loud hailers to warn them of certain death, but their plan to launch waves of attacks on troops of this regiment from the north, were halted in their tracks by multi-barrel barrages.

Last Monday, troops of 13 Gajaba, who targeted areas surrounding the Akkarayankulam bund killed Tiger leaders identified as Kadalmaran and Pulli. The refusal of his men to retrieve the body of Kadalmaran, had led to Tiger Leader Theepan admonishing them on his radio.

While all attention of the LTTE was concentrated on spoiling the army advance on Kilinochchi, a limited operation engineered by Jaffna Commander Maj Gen. G.A. Chandrasiri in the Averikadu area, just three kilometers north of Tiger held Kilali, caused so much panic among Tigers that it recalled units earlier withdrawn from Jaffna front and redeployed to halt the advance on Kilinochchi, along with leaders like Theepan and Rawland. The diversion caught the Tigers by total surprise, after eight-man small teams infiltrated the Tiger forward defence lines up to 200 metres on Tuesday (14) without their knowledge under the cover of heavy rain. These teams, supplemented by more infiltrations the following day, directed an assault on Tiger bunker positions calling in Tank fire support. By 5:30 a.m. on Thursday. the actual assault on bunkers began, thus forcing Tigers to recall their units into the region, fearing the army would break through their defences. Finally, after beating back three waves of Tiger reinforcements, the troops returned to their positions in the afternoon. Having killed two of their unit leaders identified as Kanyan and Isaiman along with 25 cadres and causing injury to at least 40 others, the troops’ own casualties were listed as three killed, nine with sizeable injuries and 16 with minor injuries. Most of the troop casualties were from mortar and artillery fire.

Similarly, last Sunday, a small team from 8th Gajaba infiltrated Tiger positions at Nagarkovil and decimated a small camp at about 4:00 a.m, killing up to ten Tiger cadres before withdrawing.