LTTE’s law and order machinery: drawing the
Northeastern Herald, 21 November 2002
The fundamental issues of the peace process are coming to the
fore with the passing of each day of the longest period of peace the
island has seen since 1983. The talks began with the full knowledge
of the whole Sinhala polity that the Liberation Tigers control large
tracts of territory in the northeast.
Even those Sinhalese who may have been unaware of the nature of this
fact before the opening of the A9 would have seen at first hand that
the LTTE controls and administers most of the Vanni region north of
Vavuniya and the southern parts of the peninsula.
The US led coalition that is backing Norway in facilitating the
peace talks are also well aware of this reality. It now appears that
not only the President, the opposition and all and sundry critics of
the peace talks but the Norwegians and the backers too are not to
pleased with the LTTE doing whatever it wants to do within areas in
the northeast that are under its control and recognised as such by
the ceasefire agreement.
Here we are referring to the Norwegian Ambassador’s remark that the
LTTE’s opening of police stations in the east could create
difficulties for the UNF government and that it could pose a
considerable threat to the peace process. The SLMC leader Rauf
Hakeem also has raised serious concerns about the matter.
At the bottom of all this lies the apparent unease in the minds of
all Sinhala and Muslims and now the Norwegians about the future of
the parallel state structures built by the LTTE on its side of the
current line of control that divides Sri Lanka.
The Norwegian ambassador, the UNF government, President Chandrika
Kumaratunga, the opposition and all and sundry who are griping or
scolding the LTTE for opening police stations and, in the coming
weeks, law courts in the east have completely or conveniently
forgotten the fundamental fact on which the ceasefire agreement
stands. Everyone, including the extremist Sinhala Urumaya welcomes
The peace they all accept as indispensable is not possible without
the ceasefire agreement, whatever their criticisms are about its
The ceasefire is not possible if the line of control is not
recognised and accepted.
The Sri Lankan government fought the latter phase of Eelam War I and
Eelam Wars II and III because it refused to accept the areas of
control established by the leading Tamil militant groups and later
by the LTTE.
The seven years of the PA’s costly military program against the
Tigers, the Riviresa, Sathjeya, Jaya Sikurui, Rana Gosha, Rivi Bala,
Agni Kheela and connected operations in the north, were all pursued
with the strategic objective of erasing the line of control.
Therefore the ceasefire had to necessarily be based on the
recognition of the line of control. There is no sophistry in this
world that is good enough to argue round this fact. The moment you
deny this fact (before reaching a mutually acceptable final
settlement) you have declared war. So all those across the political
spectrum who say they are for peace in Sri Lanka’s current context
are automatically accepting the line of control.
If peace is thus inevitably and necessarily predicated on accepting
the line of control in the northeast, then it means that the writ of
the law and order machinery of the Sri Lankan state does not run
beyond its pale. Therefore by accepting the line of control the Sri
Lankan state also necessarily accepts the fact that it has no say
over the law and order on the other side of the line of control.
Holding the line of control hence entails the LTTE to set up its own
law and order machinery – a police, judiciary and a prison system.
All the objections raised by Sinhala nationalists, the Norwegian
Ambassador and SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem against the LTTE’s law and
order system in areas under its control are, in the final analysis,
a challenge to the line of control.
If they are want the LTTE to stop expanding its law and order
machinery in areas held by it then they are repudiating the line of
control, little realising their position means war to regain those
territories and establishing the writ of the government there. Given
this fundamental reality of the peace that prevails in Sri Lanka
today, griping and complaining about what the Liberation Tigers are
doing on their side of the line of control will only pile up a
thousand compelling but untenable reasons among the Sinhala people
for breaking the ceasefire.
There are only four practical possibilities regarding the state
structures the LTTE has established within the line of control.
1. The LTTE dismantles them voluntarily out of sheer deference
to the concerns of the Sinhala polity, the SLMC, Norway and the
US led group of western countries that are backing the peace
2. The Tigers agree in principle to a plan worked out mutually
in the coming rounds of talks to incorporate these structures
into the Sri Lankan state ‘remodelled’ in accordance with the
settlement reached upon at the end of the negotiations and
approved by a two third majority in Parliament and the people at
a national referendum.
3. The Sri Lankan state goes to war again to militarily
dismantle these structures by bringing all the LTTE held regions
in the northeast under its control.
4. The Sri Lankan state solicits and obtains the aid of either
India or the US led group of countries backing the negotiations
to bash the LTTE into abject submission.
The LTTE for its part
has stated in no uncertain terms that the reality of its ground
forces, naval forces, Police and administrative and judicial
systems has to be taken into account in any negotiated
settlement to the conflict.
Dr. Balasingham has said that these structures would be in place
until the final solution envisages how these could be incorporated
into the federal or confederate state for the Tamils in the
The LTTE says it will stick to the peace track despite the legal
obstacle thrown on it by the 200-year sentence on Pirpaharan. The
Sea Tigers promised Wednesday not to do anything that could rock the
The Tigers gave up the demand for an Interim Administrative Council,
they gave up the demand for the Joint Task Force, and quite
certainly they are not pushing for the immediate resettlement of
those people driven out Valikamam North division.
And above all the LTTE has stated clearly that it is willing to give
up the demand for a separate state and consider a reasonable
alternative within Sri Lanka.
It has readily agreed, contrary to what all its detractors believed,
to take up core issues for discussion. It has also readily accepted
the Muslim question with all its complexities.
In fact the UNF government has been singularly successful in getting
the LTTE to water down its position to quite an unprecedented level.
As the memory of the horrible war gets clouded with the passage of
time, a tendency is on the rise to push for more compromises from
The opinion of many of those who currently pontificate on the peace
process is driven by an inveterate hatred of the LTTE than by common
sense. Hence they want the LTTE to ultimately deliver the pound of
They know not that their demands require that the line of control be
negated. And there the line would be drawn.