Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C

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Home > Tamils - a Trans State Nation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Indictment against Sri Lanka: Introduction & Index > Indictment against Sri Lanka - the Record Speaks

The Charge is Ethnic Cleansing


[see also Rajiv Gandhi's War Crimes and Annai Poopathy's fast for freedom - 1988 ]

"After its forces entered Sri Lanka on 30 July 1987, the IPKF was increasingly accused of raping Tamil women and of deliberately killing dozens of unarmed Tamil civilians, among them elderly people, women and children...in several cases there was eye witness evidence that the victims were non combatants shot without provocation...

Several dozen Tamil women, some of whom needed hospital treatment, testified that they were raped by IPKF personnel. A local magistrate in the north reportedly found the IPKF had been responsible for seven cases of rape in December." - Amnesty International Annual Report, 1988 for period January to December 1987

"The Indian Army has court martialled four of its men serving in the Jaffna peninsula for rape, a senior Indian military officer said here yesterday...He also conceded that several complaints of theft had been made against Indian soldiers. 'The Indian army are not angels. We are not devils either. We are just human' Brigadier Kahlon said when pressed for details. 'Rape happens even in the West'." - Sri Lanka Sun, 15 January 1988

"Two Indian soldiers serving in Batticaloa are to be court martialled for rape, authoritative sources in Batticaloa said yesterday... The two soldiers to be court martialled, allegedly raped two girls during a cordon and search operation at Ariyampathi on Friday" - Sri Lanka Sun, 19 January 1988

Charges against IPKF include rape, murder and looting says Indian Sunday Observer...

"A number of Indian soldiers face dismissal from military service besides rigorous imprisonment for committing excesses, including raping of women and looting of civilian property while deployed for peace­keeping role in Sri Lanka, it is learnt.

So far, the government had denied that the IPKF soldiers had committed any excesses. The denials came in the wake of allegations by human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, a few months ago. The instances were kept under wraps by the army authorities who, however, did initiate punitive action against the guilty. But legal experts feel that the manner in which the army has handled the whole issue raises vital points of law which may not stand the scrutiny of Indian law courts later.

The most serious case relates to an incident which occurred on November 21, 1987 near Trincomalee when Naik Baldev Singh of the 270 Engines a' Regiment ran berserk and killed seven civilians and injured another four by indiscriminate firing from his services rifle. He committed this crime following the death of his brothers law during a combing operation the previous day.

The army authorities propose to try him by a General Courts Martial (GCM) in Sri Lanka under section 69 of the Army (Civil offence) contrary to sections 302 and 307 of the Indian Penal Code. This is the first time in recent years that a trial of this nature under sections of the Indian Penal Code will take place in a foreign country.

Section 124 of the Army Act provides that, "Any person subject to this Act who commits any offence may be tried and punished for such offence in any place whatever". Even the Indian Penal Code provides for punishments to Indians for offences committed to Indians for offences committed beyond the limits of India. But the vital point of law is whether a trial by the IPC for civil offences committed abroad against nationals of that country can be held out of Indian soil.

Legal experts say that while a trial for a purely military offence can be held anywhere, a trial for a civil offence under the IPC could be held only in India unless it was specifically agreed by the countries concerned and the agreement has been duly ratified by the respective parliaments.

Army officers of the judge advocate general's feel that if the trial was held in India, Sri Lankan civilians would not be able to depose as witnesses. A senior lawyer said that the IPC provides for extradition and the trial could be held in held in Sri Lanka according to the laws of that country. Army authorities, however, are not keen to follow this course as stringent punishment by a Sri Lankan court to assuage local sentiments could demoralise Indian troops deployed there.

Several soldiers face dismissal , on charges of rape, sodomy and looting of civilian property for which the Army A t along with the provisions of the IP C provides severe punishment. In fact they also face action for violating the regimental orders passed recently which directed army personnel to abstain from frisking women without the presence of women personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (Mahila CRPF).

Almost all cases of rape and looting are being tried Summary Courts Martial (SCM), which is conducted by the concerned commanding ­ officers. The trials are held under section 69 or the Army Act contrary to sections 375 and 376 of the IPC.

However, lawyers point out that the soldiers guilty of such crimes should have been tried by GCM which after deliberation could sentence the accused to long terms of imprisonment and even life imprisonment.

They point out that since section 376 of the IPC provides for sentences up to 10 years of rape, etc. the trials could not be held by SCM which is empowered to sentence the guilty to only one year's imprisonment, besides dismissal from service.

In many cases the sentences of SCMs have been reduced considerable following appeals to senior officers. Sources said that ­ ­ two soldiers­ - Latur Lal and Babu Lal of 12 Grenadiers­­ face a year's imprisonment and dismissal from service for allegedly raping a married woman at Karavedi during Operation Pawan on May 27, 1988. The incident was reported by the vice principal of Varani Mahavidyalaya and the army authorities decided to take immediate cognizance as the local people who had gathered started condemning the entire IPKF.

Another soldier of 12 Grenadiers ­­Khem Raj Meena­­ faces dismissal and four month's imprisonment for attempting to rape another married woman when the unit was conducting cordon and search of a house at Thunnalai south (Point Pedro, Jaffna) on February l, 1988.

Sepoy Kamail Singh of 14 Sikh Light Infantry faces dismissal and one year's RI for allegedly raping a woman of village Idaikkurichy during a search on December 17, 1987. Similar punishment is also being given to A Mani, the barber of 93 Field Regiment for allegedly raping an unmarried woman of a place near Kodikaman on December 24, 1987 when conducting a search operation. He has also been tried for stealing two wrist watches. Similarly, Naik Kulwant Singh of 16 Sikh has been sentenced to nine months imprisonment and faces dismissal for committing theft of gold ornaments from a house in village Mandaitivu near Jaffna on January 13, 1988. Highly placed sources said that there were numerous complaints from different agencies, including RAW, of excesses by Sikh troops. However, inquiries later did not substantiate many of these allegations.

Six jawans, including a havildar of 5 Rajputana Rifles face dismissal and one year's RI for disobeying regimental orders and indulging in sexual relations with women while frisking them at Visumaddu village on April 11 1988. These six whose involvement was also proved by a staff inquiry, are havildar Mewar Singh, Naik Subhash Chander, Suresh Kajar and riflemen Harvair Singh, Ramphool Singh and Bhagirath Ram. The incident occurred during Operation Viraat However, the court of inquiry brought out that the four complainants were women of easy virtue and their main grouse was that they were not paid for their services.

Naik Banwari Lal and rifleman Gugan Ram of 18 Garhwal Rifles too, face dismissal and six months' imprisonment each for trying to outrage the modesty of married women at Kathadi on December 25, 1987.The army authorities were very embarrassed by the behaviour of havildar Badan Singh posted in an infantry brigade headquarters who in January 1988 committed sodomy 'against four male activists of the LTTE during their detention at Jaffna fort.

There have also been allegations of some LTTE activists dying in army custody.

Lance Naik SK Bose of 146 Air Defence Regiment has been dismissed and given four months imprisonment for picking up electronic goods and other civilian items in November 1987 while on duty between Palady air field arid Jaffna. In fact, his commanding officer recommended deterrent punishment as such actions were bound to "tarnish the image of the army and the IPKF and earn ill will of the local populace."

Sources said that about one dozen similar instances had also been reported against troops of other battalions of Kumaon, Mahar and Madras regiments. But details are not yet available. (Kanwar Sandhu reporting in the Indian Sunday Observer, December 18-24, 1988)

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