COLOMBO: The Tamil politicians’ allegation that the Sri Lankan army had injected a poisonous drug into former Tamil Tiger combatants while the latter were in detention or undergoing rehabilitation in camps run by it, is likely to lose steam because those who have made the charge are unable to come up with any names of those who had supposedly died or are gravely ill because of the injections.
The Minister of National Dialogue, Mano Gneshan, told Express on Saturday, that he had asked the Chief Minister of the Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, to collect and give the names and other details of the dead and the sick so that he could take it from there. But till date, Wigneswaran or anyone else in the Northern Provincial Administration had replied to his request, Ganeshan said.
It is also learnt that the Northern Provincial Health Minister, P.Sathiyalingam, had rubbished the allegation at a meeting of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in Jaffna. Likewise, Sivamohan MP, and Northern Provincial Fisheries Minister, B.Deniswaran, had questioned the veracity of reports that 104 x-combatants had died of poisoning by the army.
Minister Mano Ganeshan wondered how these “mysterious” deaths had gone un-noticed for seven years when there is a well organized system of treating patients and investigating unnatural deaths in Sri Lanka.
Express learns that when TNA MP, S.Sritharan, who had made the allegation, was asked to give a list of names of the dead or ailing, he laughed it away.
A top TNA leader said that TNA has been reluctant to take up the issue, because if the allegations were proved wrong, it will adversely affect the credibility of the Tamil leadership and the Tamil community in the eyes of the international community.
One of the TNA leaders said that according to a doctor, cancer is not uncommon persons who had been on the battlefield for long. Inhalation of or exposure to substances released by explosives could cause cancer. Secondly, injections are given for immediate effect and not for delayed effect. According to the stories currently circulating, the ex-combatants had died after a long period of time or have been suffering from a disability for a long time
The TNA’s leadership and the government of Sri Lanka believe that the Northern Province Chief Minister and other politicians should have checked the veracity of the reports they had received before going public. The Northern Provincial Council not only passed a resolution on the deaths but the Chief Minister asked the US Ambassador to get the visiting USAF doctors to examine the cases of poisoning.
Ambassador Atul Keshap initially agreed but backed out later. The US embassy reportedly told the Chief Minister that the USAF team did not have the facilities to conduct the required tests.
A TNA leader said that the Tamil politicians‘ charge has created a fear psychosis among ex-combatants and their families. They have been led to believe that they can die at any moment.
Speaking out against irresponsible talk by Tamil politicians against the ex-combatants, especially women, a former LTTE combatant, Thamilkavi, publicly declared in Omanthai, that she would file defamation cases against those who indulged in this practice.