ERASING THE EELAM VICTORY Part 14 C
Posted on March 20th, 2020

KAMALIKA PIERIS

This essay concludes the discussion on the contrived failure of Eelam War II and III.  The essay starts with the Millenium City Raid.

 The Intelligence branch of the Sri Lanka army had carried out top-secret covert operations from a safe house in Millennium City Housing scheme at Aturugiriya.  It is usual for armies to have safe houses. The Athurugiriya Safe House had been rented by the Directorate of Military Intelligence in December 2001.

The location of the house was known only to one or two DMI officials. It was a closely guarded secret. The last LRRP operation from Aturugiriya had been prematurely concluded on December 21. It had become difficult to execute highly classified, sensitive operations, since a Ceasefire had been planned.

In January 2002, a middle grade police officer, Kulasiri Udugampola, a SP in the Kandy Division, obtained a Court Order to conduct a raid on the safe house at the Millennium City at Athurugiriya. The exact address of the house was stated in the order, critics observed, though this was a secret location.

Udugampola had spoken to the Army’s Provost Marshal, and obtained the assistance of the Military Police.  Udugampola and his team raided   Millenium City safe house.   Captain Nilam and other intelligence officers found there,  were arrested, abused ,    bundled up and driven  to Military Police Headquarters in Narahenpita and then to Kandy where Detention Orders were served on them under the PTA.

The raid was conducted on the bogus excuse, that there was a conspiracy in Millenium City to assassinate Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.   There was no evidence of such a plot. A second charge was added on to this. That thermo-baric explosives had been brought to the Panaluwa Army Testing Range in order to train non-military persons on the orders of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI). The Panaluwa training was for the LRRP team. They were taught the use of thermobaric weapons for use in assault on Tiger guerrilla positions.

The political aspect of the matter soon emerged.  Udugampola had telephoned Interior Minister John Amaratunga, to complain of pressures on him. Minister Amaratunga dispatched Lal Ratnayake, a former DIG, to Athurugiriya to make sure nothing was done to suppress matters. The media was informed and there was wide publicity .

The Millenium City Raid had been carried out on the urging of the LTTE. The LTTE knew that this house was used by the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP). LLRP had caused much damage to the LTTE. The LLRP were highly trained men who infiltrated Tiger guerrilla controlled areas and carried out devastating attacks. The Aturugiriya raid was to crush the LLRP.

After this raid, highly confidential information such as the names and addresses of the LLRP were made public and LTTE started to eliminate them one by one. LTTE   targeted intelligence operatives and their informants, gunning them down whenever they were exposed. Many informants were killed or went into hiding. Active officers were threatened or killed across the country. Col Nisham Muthalif and Col Rizley Meedin were among those killed.

It was charged that Ranil Wickremesinghe was involved in the release of the names of the 80 odd long-range Military Intelligence group to the Parliament which resulted in the names going public. The LTTE then hunted them down and killed every one of them. Some of them were captured and tortured by them to get more names. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_City_incident.)

The Millenium City raid exposed a top secret, DMI run operation. Military intelligence had made an enormous contribution to military successes of the Sri Lanka army. But with the Raid, the entire intelligence network established with much effort by the DMI was destroyed over night. This raid was a diabolical exposure of army intelligence to the LTTE, so that the LTTE could benefit from it. The public called it   ‘wisalatama pava deema.

The Press was used to mould opinion against the Sri Lanka army. Kamal Gunaratne   specially mentions a particular Sunday newspaper column, which publicized inside information. Persons within the army were giving him the information. This columnist    did not draw attention to officers who had committed errors, but had attacked some upright officers quite viciously till they fell, said Kamal Gunaratne.

This Sunday column greatly influenced the public perception of the war.  The columnist had repeatedly said that the army could not win, since it could not successfully wage war on both the eastern and northern front simultaneously. LTTE would eventually win.   Kamal Gunaratne is probably referring to Situation Report” by Iqbal Athas in Sunday Times.

His Situation Report for August 2, 2003 was accompanied by a detailed map giving both the LTTE military installations as well as those of the armed forces. Government wanted to know how Sunday Times had got this information, particularly the markings made on the map. Sunday Times said   they had drawn the map.

The best known piece by Iqbal Athas was on the MiG fighters ordered for Eelam War IV. These second-hand MiG-27 jet fighters from Ukraine, purchased by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, greatly helped the state to win the war. That is the reason for the resentment and opposition.  In August 2007, Athas reported on the purchase suggesting that the deal had been corrupt. Athas traced the purchase to Bellimissa Holdings”, a company ostensibly based in the UK but not listed in the UK Company Register.

Sunday Leader also supported the allegation. It said that Belimissa Holdings address and individuals are fake. Even the contact numbers mentioned, are fake. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa filed a case at the Mount Lavinia District Court against Lasantha Wickrematunga and the Sunday Leader. In 2015, The Sunday Leader apologized to Gotabaya Rajapaksa for a series of articles written in the newspapers in 2006 on the purchase of MIG 27 aircraft for the Sri Lankan Air Force. The unqualified apology was carried in the Leader newspaper of 08. 03. 2015.

C.A.Chandraprema explained. This transaction relates to the purchase of four second hand but fully overhauled MiG-27s and the overhaul of three more MiG-27s and one MiG-23 UB Trainer in 2006, he said. The total amount paid by the government of Sri Lanka for the purchase of four additional MiG-27s and the overhaul of four other MiG aircraft in 2006 was US Dollars 15,665,437 (USD 15.6 million.)  Four additional MiG-27s were delivered to Sri Lanka and four existing MiG aircraft were taken from Sri Lanka to Ukraine, fully overhauled and brought back and all these aircraft were in use until the war ended.

The MiG – 27 purchased in 2000 had a very short life span one to two years. However, in the contract entered into on 26 July 2006 between the Air Force and UKRINMASH for the supply of four MiG-27s and the overhaul of three MiG-27s and one MiG-23 UB trainer clearly states that the air frames of all the aircraft will have a service life or TBO of 850 hours/8 years and the engines 550 hours/ 7 years, with the MiG-23 UB trainer having an engine service life of 400 hours. That was why the cost was more. Four MiG-27s bought in 2006, cost more and were purchased for USD 2,462,000 each and the cost of transporting the four planes to SL was USD 460,000.

The allegations in relation to the MiG transaction have kept changing over the years, observed Chandraprema. When this first started back in 2006, the allegations were that the four MiG-27s bought in 2006 cost more than the MiG-27s bought in the year 2000. The other allegation was that the purchase price was not paid to the supplier UKRINMASH but to a third party called Bellimissa Holdings.

Actually, Bellimissa Holdings was also a signatory to the contract .The contract had three signatories – the Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force as the buyer, UKRINMASH as the seller and Bellimissa Holdings Ltd as the designated party which was to receive the payment. D.A.Peregudov a Director of UKRINMASH had written to the Defence Ministry explaining that UKRINMASH is a fully state owned enterprise and that according to Ukrainian law, they cannot trade on credit terms and they cannot provide credit facilities for two years as requested by Sri Lanka. Hence a financier by the name of Bellimissa Holdings Ltd would provide financing for the transaction.

There are international groups that keep tabs on what kind of military hardware is being bought and sold on the international market, said Chandraprema. They saw nothing wrong in the Sri Lanka purchase. The US based ‘Strategy Page’ website said on 27.12.2006 that Sri Lanka has purchased an additional four second-hand MiG-27 fighter bombers from Ukraine, for about USD 2.5 million each. It said later, Sri Lanka bought MiG-27s largely because they were so cheap … Sri Lanka was able to get some proven combat aircraft at a fraction of what any alternatives (new or used) would cost.

The Ceasefire Agreement of 2002 was used to weaken the Sri Lanka army. The army was confined to barracks and its FDLs.  UNP government did not give the army enough money to even maintain the vehicles and munitions. The government ordered the army HQ not to issue daily situation reports through the Information Dept.  The army had to stop releasing information to the public on LTTE atrocities and CFA violations.

Vanni Sevaya radio broadcast which was providing a very useful service to the police and security forces was closed on 31.3.2002 and SLBC directed to use the facilities to set up a Tamil commercial service.

Vanni Sevaya,  was an the SLBC run radio station set up over a decade ago for the benefit of security forces and police deployed in the region. Army appealed against the decision but was ignored. The excuse was that the service was not generating any revenue. The closure of the Vanni service gave the clandestine Voice of the Tigers a chance to engage in propaganda without hindrance.

The   Ceasefire Agreement was used by the LTTE to strengthen their defense systems. Entire container loads of equipment were allowed to go to the Wanni to LTTE on Ranil’s instructions.  Container loads of equipment and maybe even armaments were brought in through the customs without inspection on Ranil’s instructions and send directly to the LTTE (seehttp://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=1146733. And https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxbGojMb1xc)

The government, the public and even our own soldiers thought that the LTTE was a superior fighting force, said Kamal Gunaratne. A senior minister told Kamal Gunaratne You can’t win the war with the LTTE.” When I said that we could, he said: Colonel, your people have been fighting with the LTTE for so long and couldn’t win a battle so that is why we have to go for peace talks.” We also had Service Commanders who said we could never defeat the LTTE and ended up as 4 star Generals,   said Kamal Gunaratne.

Since the Army was losing continuously in the battlefronts, in Eelam War II and III,   the public also didn’t have much faith in the fighting strength of our soldiers and thought the LTTE was more powerful than us. In all the operations, except for a few operations like Balawegaya, in which we liberated Elephant Pass and Thrivida Balaya, we ended up with disasters, said Kamal Gunaratne.

We had tremendous support from the public whenever we started a battle with the LTTE. The public displayed banners and posters all over the country and also conducted religious ceremonies in temples, kovils and church to bless the armed forces and ensure its safety. However this lasted only for a month or two after an attack. Thereafter the enthusiasm waned and completely disappeared, though the war continued.

There was also a certain amount of enduring public support. This was reflected in the creation of welfare committees for the soldiers, on the battle front and well as those who were wounded. Also in the fact that Anuruddha Ratwatte, Deputy Minister of Defence was roundly criticized by everybody for his unsuccessful military operations.

There were other forms of support. Consultant anesthetist Dr.  B.S. Perera    returned to Sri Lanka from Australia in 1994 and worked at the Military hospital from 1997 to 2000 and donated his full remuneration to the National Defense Fund and the Kobbekaduwa Trust Fund.

Two minor employees of Sri Lanka Ports Authority detected two frogmen carrying explosives near the Jaya container Terminal. They alerted authorities and prevented an attack on Colombo Port in 1996..

One segment of urban society did not care about the War.  They had no emotional connection with the Eelam war. Some could not care less if a portion of the country fell to the LTTE as long as their lives were not disrupted.  Some did not even remember that there was a war going on. They were more concerned with sports and musical shows.  They were not bothered even if the LTTE had killed 50 soldiers. But the entire nation mourned if a cricketer had a run out for a few runs, said Kamal Gunaratne.   (CONTINUED)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

 

 


Copyright © 2021 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress