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 EPDP BREATHING ITS LAST IN NEDUNTHEEVU

 Those who seek redress for inequity must come into court with clean hands.”

                                                                                     (Law of Equity)

By V.Thangavelu      

The battle for Neduntheevu (Delft) is now in its 3rd week. Simultaneous demonstrations in support of the rotating protest fast by local people in Neduntheevu against EPDP has taken place in various parts of Jaffna.

The stalemate was discussed at the 3rd round of talks at Oslo between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE delegations. Earlier the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission’s  (SLMM’s) Chief of Staff Hagrup Hauckland have asked both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE to discuss the Neduntheevu crisis at Oslo. He told The Island newspaper  “they (SLMM) were totally opposed to the political rights of the people inhabiting the Delft Islands being subjugated no matter which quarter it came from.”

To those who are not familiar with geography, Neduntheevu is one of seven (7) offshore islands situated 12 miles off the Jaffna peninsula. It has an area of 49.5 Sq.km (28 Sq.miles) with an estimated population in 1992 at 6,727 (1881-5608). The island of Rameshwaram on the southern tip of Thamil Nadu is only 25 miles from Neduntheevu. 

On October 12, 2002, the EPDP was unceremoniously forced out of the island by an angry crowd. The trouble started when according to the EPDP “ with a few drunken men armed with knives, instigated by the LTTE, appearing in front of the EPDP office and using obscene language. When EPDP members who were in the office attempted to leave the office, they were attacked with knives. One EPDP member, Ameen, received cut injuries.”

The irony of this statement will not be lost on those who follow Douglas Devananda’s politics of betrayal since early nineties when he decided to give up the armed struggle. The EPDP, thereafter, became a mercenary para-military outfit on the payroll of the Sri Lankan army. This summersault was euphemistically termed as “joining the mainstream of national politics.”  Since then he has switched sides or changed his pay masters depending which party is in power in south Sri Lanka.

When the EPDP charged that a “few drunken men armed with knives, instigated by the LTTE, appearing in front of the EPDP ……they were attacked with knives….” the EPDP little realized that the LTTE, which has denied the charges, has neatly turned the tables on it! 

On November 28, 2001 an EPDP gang armed with T56 assault rifles, swords, knives attacked a group of TNA candidates and supporters who went to Naaranthanai for election canvassing.   One E. Perampalam of Velanai who was employed at the Jaffna University was killed in the attack.  Another person who was a three-wheeler driver from Jaffna succumbed to his injuries later at the Jaffna hospital.  Among the 19 people injured and warded at the Jaffna hospital were TULF front-liner Mavai Senathirajah and M. K. Sivajilingam of the TELO.

V. Anandasangaree accused Douglas Devananda, then a Minister and EPDP leader responsible for the attack. He said Devananda was at Allaipiddy at that time. Allaipiddy is one of the islets close to Naaranthanai.

He also accused EPDP local leader Mathanarajan alias Mano, Pradeshya Sabah (local council) President, and Napoleon, EPDP organizer for Kayts of leading the attack. He asked the Police to arrest Douglas Devananda, Mathanarajan and Napoleon.  (It is rumoured that Napoleon wanted in connection with the double murder is reported to have fled the country.)    

Douglas Devananda vehemently denied that his party cadres were involved in the attack. He claimed the attack was a spontaneous reaction by people venting their anger against the Tamil National Alliance.  “TNA had earned the wrath of the people living in the islets by making ugly statements about them” he explained.  

Now one can see Douglas Devananda’s skewed logic. If the people of Neduntheevu protest against the EPDP presence in Delft, it is “instigation” by the LTTE. But if the people of Naaranthanai attack and kill TNA supporters, then it is a “spontaneous reaction” by angry people.

After the UNF government came to office on December 05, 2001, the Police belatedly arrested the suspects Mathanarajan, M.P. and Kayts EPFP Organiser Sebastiampillai Ramesh for the killing of the two TNA’s supporters. 

Now to borrow a colourful phraseology from Jeyaraj the EPDP  “Having done a "Dunkirk" in October, the EPDP rallied itself and did a "Normandy" landing on November 18” escorted by Navy boats in the cover of darkness. (Sunday Leader- November 24, 2002)

This Normandy style landing was led by ex- EPDP Parliamentarian and Jaffna District Chief, K.V.K. Jegan and Nishanthan, EPDP’s Delft area organiser.  Incidentally Jegan is a prime suspect in the murder of BBC correspondent Mylvaganam Nimalarajan on October 18, 2002.  His fingerprints were found on the bicycle left behind at the scene of the murder. Nimalarajan killing was one of the daredevil execution style murders carried out by the EPDP with the connivance of the armed forces.  The Police have now arrested Visvan alias Visu and David Michael Collin belonging to the EPDP in connection with Nimalarajan's murder. 

The 'popularity' of the EPDP in Neduntheevu is such that it needs round the clock protection by more than 40 fully armed Naval personnel and the Police.   

The claim by EPDP that it wish to carry out political activities in Neduntheevu under the gun of the Navy and Police smacks of hypocrisy, opportunism and even criminality. 

Douglas Devananda always pleads innocence whenever there are accusations of murders, disappearances, torture, assault or thuggery against his outfit. He declares himself a saint. This is coming from the days of Choolaimedu where he opened fire and killed an innocent civilian Ayaavu in 1986 in Thamil Nadu.

In an interview recently to the BBC Thamil Service, Douglas Devananda claimed that his party fed and clothed the people of Neduntheevu after the LTTE abandoned them in the nineties. Therefore they remain grateful to him and his party. But contrary to his tall claim people are in fact accusing the EPDP of widespread terror, extortion and murder.  

One of the key members leading the protest against the EPDP is Mrs. Nicholas, widow of A. Nicholas, AGA, and Delft.  Mrs. Nicholas claims her husband was killed by EPDP goons.  She spoke to the Sunday Times (December 01,2002) and said,   “My husband was the Assistant Government Agent since 1985. On June 8, 1995 four members of the EPDP came to our house around 9.00 p.m. and called for my husband. They wanted him to come to their office to discuss some matter. We waited anxiously, but around 1.00 am some other EPDP members brought back my husband's body claiming that he had committed suicide. I did not believe their claims, but they threatened me at gun point and tried to force me to sign a document saying my husband had committed suicide."

Douglas Devananda would have been a non-entity in politics, if not for the tactical blunder the LTTE committed in not allowing elections in LTTE controlled Jaffna in 1994. Because of that EPDP contesting as an independent group won 9 out of 11 seats in the North by polling just 10,744 votes. Out of that,  9,944 votes came from Kayts electorate alone which was virtually a fiefdom of the EPDP and where mass scale impersonations took place. The balance votes came from the remaining 10 electorates- Point Pedro 03, Kilinochchi 02, Chavakachcheri 13, Nallur 08, Manipay 04, Jaffna 76, KKS 93, Kopay 40, Uduppiddy 05 and Vaddukkoddai 556. There were 596,366 registered voters in the Jaffna district.  

The EPDP has also its backers like President Chandrika who has ordered the Navy and Police to provide full security to the EPDP holed up in Neduntheevu.  In a surprising move, the Indian High Commissioner for Sri Lanka Mr. Nirupam Sen   requested Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe to take immediate steps to enhance the security of Douglas Devananda, leader of EPDP. Obviously the High Commissioner was acting at the behest of RAW that takes care of all Thamil Quislings!  

Unexpected support also came from The Sunday Leader columnist D.B.S. Jeyaraj. He using his writing skills made the best out of a hopeless situation for the beleagued EPDP in Neduntheevu.  This despite previous D.B.S. Jeyaraj pro
-LTTE columns reportedly reflecting official LTTE thinking.   Again, much to the chagrin of LTTE die-hards, he has frequently appeared on pro-LTTE platforms as a speaker. Most of his articles are re-published with relish. The World Mirror, a bi-weekly published in Canada, even went to the extent of honouring him with an award, something unthinkable just a year ago!

Unsurprisingly Jeyaraj’s column has been prominently displayed in EPDP website, prove that he had endeared  himself to Douglas Devananda as well.  This is no mean feat for a journalist!  

In his article titled “EPDP beleagued in Neduntheevu” (Sunday Leader-November 24,2002) D.B.S. Jeyaraj said,  “ despite the claim that the protests are by the people, it is more or less common knowledge that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organisation is the driving force behind the moves. In Delft the protests are supposedly spontaneous examples of people power: In Jaffna the protests are spearheaded by the Jaffna District people's association and the Jaffna international students' union. In realpolitik terms the orchestrated anti-EPDP protest by the "people," is actually a not so covert Tiger operation.”

He then goes on to berate the LTTE thus,  There were many who thought that the LTTE had transformed itself and was tolerant of dissent and alternative political opinion. Recent events on ground have disproved that. Even an insignificant outfit like the Socialist Equal Party is not permitted to put up posters in Jaffna. Attempts to hold a 75th birthday commemorative meeting in Chulipuram for the late Appapillai Amirthalingam were crushed. Only the totally subservient TNA is allowed some space…. With that kind of intolerant attitude prevailing, there is very little doubt about the underlying motives in the anti-EPDP campaign. The EPDP controlled Vadamarachchi Pradeshiya Sabha constructed a new office at Nelliaddi through funds allocated by Devananda. Unknown elements vandalised the building. The EPDP's Thenmaratchy area leader was set upon by a gang of four and hacked with swords. Another EPDP cadre Pushparaj was killed in Analaitheevu. Several EPDP cadres have been harassed. It is strongly suspected that as in the case of the assault on Hartley College Principal Sripathy, the LTTE is enlisting the services of criminal elements to do the 'dirty work' and deny all responsibility.”

In a rush to paint the LTTE black, he says “Another EPDP cadre Pushparaj was killed in Analaitheevu” implying the LTTE killed him.  But newspaper reports first claimed he died after receiving a blow to his chest from an EPDP cadre. Later reports said he died after swallowing poison.

Jeyaraj has purposely written the word “people” between inverted commas insinuating they are not real people. They are simply robots manipulated by the LTTE to take to the streets!

I wonder what he has to say about the blockade of Jaffna Kachcheri by the Association of Guardians for Missing Persons (AGMP) now in its fourth day.  AGMP has accused the TNA as well as the LTTE (Thambimaar) for turning a blind eye to their protests and pleas! 

To be charitable to Jeyaraj, this is not the first time he is casting aspersions on protests launched by the Thamil people. Protests at Kanjirankuda, Point Pedro, and Trincomalee etc. too were described by him as instigated and orchestrated by the LTTE!

The truth is these protests reflect the pent up fury of the Thamil people against the occupation army and the Quisling groups. The armed forces were responsible for the killing, rape, torture and disappearance of thousands of innocent civilians in the Northeast.  EPDP which aided and abetted the armed forces is equality guilty of these crimes. 

The nod of EPDP  “Head-shakers” (“Thalaiyaadikal”) accompanying the SLA sent many Thamil youths to their graves.   

In spite of EPDP being   "half-democrats” and   “does not have a positive image as far as human rights are concerned” and   “In fact the EPDP may have a negative image” Jeyaraj claims,  “the EPDP is the only Tamil party that has been capable of successfully pursuing a political line independent of the LTTE. It was the first Tamil ex-militant party to align with Colombo. It has boldly rejected the LTTE and the Tamil Eelam demand and sought to provide an alternative. “

 

He continues, “The government is now duty bound to protect the EPDP and allow it freedom to function politically. If the LTTE is permitted to oust the EPDP from the peninsula, it will reflect badly on the government. There is always the argument that the EPDP has incurred the anger of the people through its abuse and misuse of power and that the people are now reacting. It is however highly improbable for the 'people' to wait so long and react now in an orchestrated manner. If there was genuine repulsion, the reactions would have come earlier.‘’

 

Apparently Jeyaraj is trying his best to white wash the sins of the EPDP. He conveniently overlooks the fact that the EPDP cadres are on the payroll of the army. How then could anyone permit the EPDP to engage in political activity at public expense? 

 

Jeyaraj also suffers from selective amnesia. Contrary to what he writes, genuine repulsion against the EPDP manifested very convincingly in the form of Ponku Thamil agitation organized by the Jaffna University students during 2000-2001.  This uprising took place at a time when Jaffna was reeling under the iron heels of President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her Minister of Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.    

 The arts faculty students of the Jaffna University performed a street play    in December 2000 portraying Douglas Devananda as a heinous oppressor of civilians in the North. Hundreds of students and people watched the play named "that which is not spoken of" (Pesaapporul). The play ends with the effigy of Devananda being torn to pieces by the people of Jaffna.

Days later, the students and the public burned the effigies of both Chandrika and Douglas in front of the Kachcheri as an act of defiance! In all probability future historians will depict the Ponku Thamil uprising as the people’s revolution that galvanized and unified the Thamil behind the Liberation Tigers and isolated the EPDP. 

Finally, let me remind Jeyaraj the legal axiom,  Those who seek redress for inequity must come into court with clean hands.”  The hands of Douglass Devananda are soaked with the blood of innocent Thamil people.  He is a mercenary who collaborated with the enemy for plums of office and money. He and his party betrayed the liberation struggle of the people. Dangerously, precariously and perilously placed, the EPDP is breathing its last in Neduntheevu!