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Top cop tells LTTE detainees…
Accept President’s peace offer now or regret later

A senior police officer in charge of the Northern Province has told LTTE cadres, held in detention, in the Vavuniya region, that they wouldn’t get another opportunity to work out a political package with the Sri Lankan State.

Addressing over 2,000 detainees, both men and women, at the Neriyakulam Technical College, Senior DIG Nimal Lewke, said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa would be their only hope. The former Commandant of the elite STF said that the South wouldn’t oppose the President’s strategy. The President had the courage and the political will to resolve the national question because of the unprecedented backing he had received for his style of governance, Lewke said.

Had anyone of them suspected the government’s sincerity, the appointment of former LTTE strongman, in charge of the Ampara-Batticaloa region Karuna, as a minister in the SLFP-led ruling coalition, should be enough to reassure LTTE cadres now in custody, he said.

He estimated the number of LTTE cadres held in seven centres in and around Vavuniya at 8,729. Among them there were about 1,700 women, he said.

Lewke also briefed the President and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on the need to engage the ordinary cadres in a dialogue.

He told The Island that the detainees had received his speech warmly. Had the Tamil Diaspora provided funds for development and social welfare over the past 30 years instead of strengthening the LTTE’s war chest, the situation would have been different today, he said.

The LTTE cadres, now in detention, should be more interested in the improvement of general living standards in the Northern and Eastern Province than a federal solution, he said.

Recalling the time he played cricket for St. Sylvester’s College against Shankar of Hartley College, Jaffna, who pioneered the formation of Air Tigers, the senior DIG said that they could come to an amicable settlement.

But senior LTTE leaders would have to face trial, he said. Except for a few captured in the last stages of fighting, the army had killed the majority of the terrorist leadership, he said.

Responding to our queries, he said that 283,000 internally displaced persons had been accommodated at welfare centres in the Vavuniya region and a further 11,000 in the Jaffna peninsula.

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