By Walter Jayawardhana

The reliable defense columnist of Colombo’s 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 newspaper’s most popular and reliable column “The situation report” says the Army actually did it by very precisely bombing the Marvil Aru anicut.

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 BBC’s 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”



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