Slain cops take centre stage

(Courtesy of The Island)

Political issues are like mushrooms in this land like no other. They appear in troops and die out fast. The last few weeks have seen quite a few issues, the main being some MPs receiving money from the Perpetual Treasuries’ slush fund and a New York Times report that China funded Mahinda Rajapaksa’s third presidential election campaign. The UNP was flogging the issue of Chinese funds very hard to gain maximum possible political mileage when State Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran opened her mouth in Jaffna. All hell broke loose following her call for reviving the LTTE.

The government finds itself in an unenviable position. Vijayakala’s espousal of the LTTE’s cause could not have come at a worse time. Several ex-Tiger combatants have been arrested with a haul of weapons in the North; some LTTE activists have been jailed in Tamil Nadu for trying to smuggle warlike material into this country. One of the main allegations the Joint Opposition (JO) keeps levelling against the government is that the latter compromises national security. Vijayakala has provided grist to the JO’s mill.

State Minister Maheswaran has become such an embarrassment to the government that even some UNP big guns have chosen to tear into her. They have only made a virtue of necessity. They are aware that it is political suicide for them to defend Vijayakala in any manner.

One should not be so naïve as to expect the UNP to take disciplinary action against Vijayakala in hot water. It will wait till the furore fizzles out and the issue is forgotten. One may recall how it helped former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran make good his escape before being brought to justice for the biggest ever financial crime in the country—the Treasury bond scams. The real mastermind of those rackets has not even been named officially. Some offenders are too big to be caught!

It may be recalled that the TNA used to defend the LTTE in Parliament even at the height of war. It openly recognised Prabhakaran as the sole representative of the Tamil people and spoke for the LTTE at various fora. In so doing, the TNA MPs violated the Constitution, but none of them were expelled from Parliament. So, Vijayakala should not worry about action against her pro-LTTE statement. The culture of impunity prevails in all but name and she will benefit therefrom.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, speaking in Parliament on Vijayakala’s call at issue, while claiming that the Rajapaksas had struck a deal with the LTTE to win the 2005 presidential election, accused Karuna Amman of having had a hand in the massacre of 600 policemen in the East in 1990. He said the Rajapaksas had made Karuna a Vice President of the SLFP and Deputy Minister.

The present government has undertaken to probe the alleged accountability issues in keeping with its Geneva commitments. The question is why the massacre of policemen who surrendered to the LTTE on the orders of a UNP government has not been probed.

Now that no less a person than the Prime Minister himself has accused Karuna of the mass murder of policemen the police must get cracking. A high level investigation is called for. After all, the government has launched an investigation into allegations made by a foreign newspaper.

It will be interesting to know whether the IGP will take any action on the basis of the PM’s statement. The police have gone into overdrive to nab the underworld figures responsible for killing a constable in Matara the other day. But, sadly, that kind of high octane performance has been conspicuous by its absence on the part of the guardians of the law where the killing of 600 policemen is concerned. Even Rohana Wijeweera’s wife has filed a habeas corpus petition after a lapse of nearly three decades. Better late than never.

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