Attack on five TNA MPs : If any soldiers found involved "they will have to go home" – Maj. Gen. Hathurusinghe

By Franklin R. Satyapalan

Amidst angry protests by the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) against last Thursday night’s attack on five TNA parliamentarians at Alaveddy, Jaffna’s Brigade Commander, Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe warned yesterday that if anyone from the army was found involved in the assault "they will have to go home". TULF leader, V. Anandasangaree said the conduct of the army personnel, in entering the hall in which a meeting, to introduce the candidates of the TNA at the local elections, was held, is highly deplorable.

"They (army personnel) had assaulted people who had assembled there and chased them away and also caused damage to bicycles and motor cycles etc. We strongly condemn the interference of the army with the fundamental rights of the civilians. Freedom of assembly, speech and movement are inherent rights of the people", he said in a statement..

"I am not condoning this incident ", Maj. Gen. Hathurusinghe said.

He said that he has invited the TNA MPs who faced this predicament to meet with him so that he could ascertain the facts behind this incident. "I must first find out from these parliamentarians whether it was the army or anyone else masquerading as the army".

‘We have just finished 30 years of acrimony and we are with the people helping them to get back on their feet. I am not ready to protect any person but we do not know the truth as there are many interested parties, locally as well as internationally waiting for an opportunity to drive a wedge between the government and the TNA ", he noted.

The TNA has written to President Mahinda Rajapaksa requesting him to ensure that prompt action is taken in this regard and the miscreants brought to book

It is also clear that this attack was pre-meditated and was carried out by the army itself openly in uniform with impunity, the TNA charged in a statement.

"I must talk the truth — the TNA is also waiting for an opportunity to shout for help at the drop of a hat. We must all study what happened, whether there were interested parties , before we could accuse someone or come to any final conclusions", Hathurusinghe explained.

"With the local poll in the offing, the TNA has the freedom to engage in election activities without any obstacle or hindrance", he assured.

"This is why I am inviting the TNA to join hands with the government and work together for the greater welfare of the people", the Jaffna Brigade Commander said.

"This high-handed act of the army should stop. In any case this is not a matter for the army to interfere with, when there are police stations all over the place, including the place where this unwanted incident took place, Anandasangaree noted.

The TNA’s letter dated June 17, 2011 to the President was signed by the five MPs who were attacked: Mavai Senathirajah, K. Premachandran, E. Saravanabavan, S. Sritharan and M. A. Sumanthiran.

The police and the army had visited the place earlier in the day and made inquiries about the meeting which started at about 6.30 pm with about 30 party members. About an hour later, while the meeting was in progress, some army personnel entered the hall and gave orders to stop the meeting, the letter claimed.

MP Sumanthiran walked up to an officer who seemed to be in the rank of a Major and spoke to him and was told that this was an internal party meeting that did not require any police permission and that in any case "this was a matter between the police and us and not the military".

Several soldiers in full uniform, carrying automatic weapons and long poles in their hands then rushed into the hall and started assaulting the people, the letter further claimed.

"About 30 of them were led by an officer who wore a T-shirt and army fatigue trousers and boots. He went up to MP Saravanabavan and pulled out the microphone and raised his pole to assault him but the MP’s security personnel intervened and was dealt a few blows. The other MSD personnel formed a ring round the other members of Parliament and identified themselves as police personnel. They were assaulted with the poles. The leader pointed a finger at MP Premachandran and threatened and abused him", it further noted .

"When the parliamentarians were leaving, at the entrance again the soldiers came up and assaulted MP Mavai Senathirajah’s security personnel. People were being assaulted outside the hall at that time too".

MP Senathirajah had telephoned Jaffna Security Forces Commander Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe and reported the matter to him .

"He called back and found we were at the Tellippalai Police Station and sent Major General Walgama and other army officers. Major General Walgama expressed his regrets and apologized. He also appealed to us not to make a complaint to the police. But we told him that we have to necessarily lodge a complaint and proceeded to do so with the police", the statement said.

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