In an operation similar to the one conducted in the East with the support of breakaway LTTE cadres headed by Karuna, the government is now using Vanni Tiger cadres to quell a fresh attempt to revive the LTTE.
Although the circumstances under which the Vanni cadres are deployed are very much different from the eastern operation, the on-going police work has produced positive results.
A small group of ex-LTTE cadres, including battle hardened ones are now working with the Northern Range Police to apprehend hard core LTTE cadres taking refuge among civilians accommodated at welfare centres and ascertain exact involvement of those who had already acknowledged their role in the organisation as well as sleeping cadres.
An authoritative security official told The Island that ex-LTTE cadres were also involved in the on-going search for buried arms, ammunition and equipment in the North and East, including mine fields.
Responding to our queries, the official said that Vanni cadres would not have thrown their weight behind them (the police) unless they were convinced of the government s ability to eradicate the LTTE and restore peace in all parts of the country.
He said that about two dozen LTTE cadres had been involved in counter-insurgency operations.
The police said that the LTTEcadres had helped investigators to identify over 50 LTTE cadres, who covered up their exact role in the organisation and posed as ordinary members. The police said that this would be of pivotal importance as the government needed to categorise LTTE cadres in custody that could not have been achieved without the help of the Vanni cadres, he said.
Sources said that the LTTE group had also been given an opportunity to operate in the Jaffna peninsula, where it recently helped the police to apprehend three LTTE members, including a suicide cadre. Sources said that the suicide cadre had been tasked with assassinating VIPs visiting Nagadeepa Viharaya on the Nainathivu island.
Sources said that they also helped the police to make a spate of recoveries in former LTTE strongholds, including at Vellamullivaikkal, on the Mullaitivu coast. Millions of rupees worth arms, ammunition and equipment had been found by the Northern Range police.
The Vavuniya police top brass had been able to build an excellent working relationship with a small section of the LTTE cadre in government custody. Sources said that some of them had gone to the extent of confronting LTTE cadres when they were not forthcoming with required information. Some of the LTTE cadres working with Vavuniya police had been privy to high profile LTTE operations, including overseas assignments such as special training received by cadres.
The Northern Range has received a group of experienced officers, including CID personnel to conduct investigations.
Winning hearts and minds of the Vanni population was particularly important in view of the forthcoming parliamentary elections (by April next year) and the possibility of President Mahinda Rajapaksa calling snap presidential polls. Sources said that once the police deployment was completed the Northern Region including Jaffna would have also 40 police stations. Initially the police would concentrate on Nedunkerni and Mallavi, east and west of A9, respectively.