RELIABLE DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT
IQBAL ATHAS SAYS IT WAS INDEED
THE ARMY WHO OPENED WATER IN MAVIL ARU BY BOMBING THE ANICUT
By Walter Jayawardhana
The reliable defense columnist of Colombos Sunday Times says
it was indeed the Sri Lanka Army who opened water of the Mavil Aru
irrigation canal despite propaganda that the LTTE did it.
Iqbal Athas , the Sunday Times columnist who writes the newspapers
most popular and reliable column The situation report
says the Army actually did it by very precisely bombing the Marvil
He said in his Sunday Times column, A high ranking military
source said the security forces bombed the Mavil Aru anicut. It was
so precisely done that water began flowing thereafter.
But while this process was being done websites run by Sri Lankans
but having strong LTTE connections like Lanka Academic, the LTTE controlled
website The Tamil Net, the Associated Press correspondent and the
BBCs Sinhala language service, which is relayed by the Sri Lanka
Broadcasting Corporation but accused of having a LTTE slant in all
their news reporting peddled the propaganda that it was the LTTE that
let the water flow once again in the canal. None of these news services
said that they were reporting a statement by a LTTE official.
All reported as if they witnessed it although none of them have been
there. None of these news correspondents were present there in the
Mavil Aru area to witness any opening of water. It could be simply
stated, except the Tamil Net, a propaganda unit of the LTTE, all others
were being used for propaganda by a terrorist group with good public
relations techniques. No checking whatsoever has been done before
releasing the news item.
Meanwhile the media center for national security has handled it very
inefficiently. Their website announced the water was opened at 8 p.m.
but did not say it was done by the army in the opening sentence creating
doubts in the minds of the people.
When it was questioned from Minister Keheliya Rambukwella by a BBC
Sandeshaya interviewer whether it was not the LTTE who opened water
at Mavil Aru, failing to state categorically that it was the army
who opened it, he first giggled creating doubts in the minds of the
people. Then he said from your side you can assume anything.
It was simply a matter of precious air time wasted. He was really
not communicating well at all.
Credit goes to the Army commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka for
telling the first time firmly that it was the army who opened water
at Mavil Aru and not the LTTE in a statement to the Divaina.
The following is what Iqbal Athas wrote about opening the Mavil Aru
by the army: Another propaganda victory for the LTTE came with
claims that they had opened the Mavil Aru anicut on their own for
"humanitarian reasons." This, they claimed, was without
any pre conditions. Many international media organizations raised
the question - why did the Government continue to pursue the military
campaign when the LTTE has so graciously opened the anicut?
The truth, The Sunday Times learnt, was different. A high ranking
military source said the security forces bombed the Mavil Aru anicut.
It was so precisely done that water began flowing thereafter. The
source spoke on grounds of anonymity since they are debarred from
speaking to the media. High ranking Government officials declined
comment when asked about this bombing.
This is why the military offensive to seize control of Mavil
Aru anicut that began on July 28, still continues. A Situation Report
delivered to selected VIPs and military top brass on Thursday morning
(August 10) has this to say: "Troops of the Special Forces and
8th Gemunu Watch launched assault on the Western anicut. Troops cleared
Western anicut and progressed towards Eastern anicut bund road junction
- 50 metres short of the Eastern anicut.
"Heavy indirect fire encountered. Due to this, troops held back
to the Western anicut. Troops holding Western anicut and consolidating.
"Due to this incident 9 soldiers were killed in action. Five
officers and 60 soldiers injured."
There is a distance of six kilometres from the bund road to
the Mavil Aru head sluice gates as shown in the map on page 11 and
details of the anicuts in the area. Security sources said that the
15-day-long military operation will continue until the area is brought
under their control. Up to now 36 soldiers including two officers
have been killed in this operation