COLOMBO: Great Heroes' Day (Maaveerar Naal), which commemorates dead Tamil Tiger cadres, passed off peacefully 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 apparantly committed suicide demanding an independent Eelam and the rehabilitation and release of detained Tamil Tiger suspects, passed off without any untoward incident. The funeral was not a huge public affair as any such funeral might have been a few years ago.
Neither the Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran nor any of the leaders of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) issued condolence statements.
However, when the CM was asked for his comment he said he does not think that Colombo will change its unsympathetic stance on the prisoner release issue after Senthooran's suicide.
There was no overt military or police presence in Jaffna, including the sensitive university area, to prevent people from mourning. But TNA activists said that they had seen police and army in civvies.
In Colombo, the Lankan police spokesman said that the people of the North had been asked not to commemorate any Tamil Tiger cadre publicly, as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is a banned organization.However, the families of the cadres could mourn privately in their houses, he said.
The spokesman also said that Senthooran's death is being investigated from various angles and that the police cannot say conclusively that it was suicide.
A section of Jaffna University students defied the police diktat and lit candles within the campus.On Thursday a section of them celebrated Tiger chieftain V.Prabhakaran's 61 st.birthday by cutting a cake and drinking Coke.
Earlier on Thursday, the Lankan Minister of Justice, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, said there are 204 LTTE detainees and they are charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
Between November 11 and 16, 39 had been granted bail. 56 of the detainees had been convicted by the High Courts.Investigations are on in the case of 148.
Twenty suspects have expressed a desire to plead guilty for lesser offenses.These can be sentenced for a period and then sent for rehabilitation and release, Rajapakshe said.
Rajapaksa Too Released LTTE Cadres
Answering the Mahinda Rajapaksa group's criticism that the Sirisena regime is releasing hardcore terrorists, the Justice Minister said that
the former regime had itself released 530 Tiger suspects.In addition, it had rehabilitated 12,000 LTTE surrendees and released them in a year.
"Releasing LTTE suspects will not compromise national security.Government takes full responsibilty for the release" Rajapakshe said.