COLOMBO: Great Heroes’ Day (Maaveerar Naal), which commemorates the slain Tamil Tigers, passed without incident in the Tamil-speaking parts of Sri Lanka’s Northern and Eastern Provinces on Friday.
Even the funeral of 18-year-old Rajeswaran Senthooran who apparently committed suicide demanding an independent Eelam and the rehabilitation and release of detained Tamil Tiger suspects was peaceful. It was not a huge public affair as such funerals have been a few years ago.
Neither Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran nor Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leaders issued any condolence statement. However, when contacted for comment, the Chief Minister said he didn’t think Colombo would change its unsympathetic stance on the prisoner release issue after Senthooran’s suicide.
There was no overt military or police presence in Jaffna, including in the sensitive university area, to prevent people from mourning the death. But TNA activists said that they had seen police and army in civvies. In Colombo, police spokesman said the people of the North had been asked not to commemorate any Tamil Tiger cadre publicly, as the LTTE is a banned organisation. However, the families of the cadre could mourn privately in their houses, he said.
The spokesman also said that Senthooran’s death was being investigated from various angles and that the police couldn’t say conclusively that it was a suicide.
Answering the Mahinda Rajapaksa group’s criticism that the Sirisena regime is releasing hardcore terrorists, Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that the former regime had itself released 530 Tiger suspects. “Releasing LTTE suspects will not compromise national security. The government takes full responsibility for the release,” he said.