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Sri Lanka extends its disappearance enquiry time frame

The Presidential commission comprising of 3 members, was set up to enquire the disappearance of people during the civil war in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. The three-member Commission, comprises Maxwell Paranagama (Chairman), Priyanthi Vidyaratne and Mano Ramanathan.

Earlier the commission was going to enquire about the incident covering the period of 1990 to 2009.

Recently, Sri Lankan Government has declared that it will increase the period of enquire from 1990 to 2009 by seven years i.e. from 1983 – 2009. The increase period will include the time when the India’s Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was in Sri Lanka (1987-1990).

The Sri Lankan government made the announcement just a couple of days before member countries of the U.N. Human Rights Council, voted on a U.S.-backed resolution calling for an international probe in Sri Lanka (US-backed resolution demanding accountability for thousands of deaths of ethnic Tamil civilians in 2009).

The book written by 4 university teachers “The Broken Palmyrah” reflects the incidences of the atrocities committed by the IPKF.

The reason behind the increase in time period of enquiry

During the enquiry, the commission visited Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Batticaloa, where they have received complaints about activities of other organizations which were responsible for the incidence.

Based on which the commission decided to look into complaints against Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), Peoples Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO), Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF), Eelam Peoples ‘Democratic Party (EPDP), Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Lankan armed forces, and possibly the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF).

About IPKF

The IPKF was invited by the Sri Lankan President J R Jayawardene as a result of the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord of July 1987 signed by Rajiv Gandhi and JR Jayawardene.

The accord aimed to end the Sri Lankan Civil War between militant Sri Lankan Tamil nationalists such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan military.

As per the terms of the accord, the main task of the IPKF was to disarm the different militant groups, followed by the formation of an Interim Administrative Council.

During the initial period IPKF force was not expected to be involved into any war. But the situation changed over a period of time, as the IPKF started involving in the battle with the LTTE to enforce peace. This interference leads the LTTE to dominate the Interim Administrative Council, and also refused to disarm, which was a pre-condition to enforce peace in Sri Lanka.

The IPKF began withdrawing from Sri Lanka in 1989, following the election of the Vishwanath Pratap Singh (V P Singh) government in India and on the request Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa.

The last IPKF group left Sri Lanka in March 1990.

Following are some important operations carried by India –

Operation Poomalai or Eagle Mission 4 – Mission was undertaken by the Indian Air Force to air-drop supplies over the surrounded town of Jaffna in Sri Lanka on 4 June 1987 in support of Tamil Tigers during the Sri Lankan Civil War.

The operation came in, when the Sri Lankan government stated that they were close of defeating the LTTE, India dropped 25 tons of food and medicine by parachute into areas held by the LTTE in a direct move of support toward the rebels.

Operation Pawan

The operation was under the Indian Peace Keeping Force to take control of Jaffna from the LTTE in late 1987 to enforce the disarmament of the LTTE as a part of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord.

The Jaffna University Helidrop was the first of the operations launched by the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) aimed at disarming the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) by force and securing the town of Jaffna.

About Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord

Negotiations were held, and the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord was signed on July 29, 1987, by Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President Jayewardene.

Under this accord, the Sri Lankan Government made a number of concessions to Tamil demands, including devolution of power to the provinces, a merger—subject to later referendum—of the Northern and the Eastern provinces into the single province, and official status for the Tamil language (this was enacted as the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka).

India agreed to establish order in the North and East through the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), and to cease assisting Tamil insurgents. Militant groups including the LTTE, although initially unwilling, agreed to surrender their arms to the IPKF.

The arrival of the IPKF to take over control of most areas in the North of the country enabled the Sri Lanka government to shift its forces to the south (in Indian aircraft) to quell the protests.

This led to an uprising by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in the south. 

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