Former UNP MP and media personality J. Sri Ranga has accused the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and other Tamil MPs of conveniently remaining silent on the possible use of ‘poison gas’ on the Vanni east front in 2009.
The then government brought the war to a successful conclusion on May 19, 2009.
Ranga flayed the then government political leadership, military, the TNA and other recognized political parties in ‘Minnal’ (lightning) programme telecast by Shakthi tv on May 20.
Ranga and two lawyers appearing on the show questioned the failure on the part of the establishment and the Tamil political leadership to ascertain the number of civilian deaths and the use of ‘poison gas.’
The programme in its entirety suggested the use of ‘poison gas’ in May 2009. Ranga’s guests condemned the combined security forces offensive alleging wartime government perpetrated crimes against humanity.
Ranga pointed out that the deafening silence of the media in Tamil Nadu during the last phase of the Sri Lankan offensive though western media, such as Channel 4 News, New York Times and Telegraph gave wide coverage.
Tamil elected representatives were accused of unashamedly exploiting the Mullivaikkal massacre for their political advantage though they never made a genuine attempt to address the grievances of those who survived the war that claimed the lives of a large number of people.
UN Panel of Experts (PoE) in March 2010 estimated the number of dead at 40,000 during the final phase of the war.
Ranga strongly criticized some members of the TNA who had been reportedly in India at the time time of the final phase of the military offensive. Ranga named Up-country People’s Front (UPF) leader Periyasamy Chandrasekeran as the only MP to raise his voice both in and outside parliament against what was happening in the north.
The former MP attributed the silence of some TNA MPs during the military offensive to their cozy relationship with New Delhi.
Responding to Minnal allegations, Tamil political analyst told The Island that the contentious accountability issues, particularly the alleged use of ‘poison’ gas on the Vanni front should be taken up on Satana programme. Ranga couldn’t ignore the failure on his part to take up alleged accountability issues on his own, the analyst said, adding that if the former MP was genuinely concerned he should address the Sinhala electorate.
A spokesperson for the Global Sri Lanka Forum (GSLF) pointed out that it would be pertinent to ask whether Ranga took up war crimes in and outside parliament after having entered parliament in April 2010 on the UNP ticket. The former MP certainly owed an explanation to the Tamil speaking people as to why he switched allegiance to war winning President Mahinda Rajapaksa after having entered parliament through the UNP. Responding to another query, the GSLF said that several months after the releasing of the UN PoE report, Ranga joined the government delegation to the UNGA in New York in Sept 2010. The then UNP MP accompanied government delegation comprising President Rajapaksa, External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris and MP Namal Rajapaksa, the spokesman said. In fact, the then government released photographs of Rajapaksa-led delegation with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and one-time peace facilitator Erik Solheim, the GSLF spokesman said.
Political sources said Ranga also owed an explanation as regards his inclusion in the UPFA National List at the August 2015 parliamentary polls after the change of government in January 2015.
Ranga was placed ninth on the UPFA National List consisting of 29.
Both Tamil analyst and the GSLF suggested that Minnal programmes should have Sinhala and English sub titles to ensure a wider coverage of discussions on contentious issues.
Appearing on Satana last Tuesday, Ranga alleged Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Taranjit Singh Sandhu had intervened on behalf of UNP leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the time of the recent crisis caused by SLFP e No Confidence Motion (NCM) against the PM over his alleged role in treasury bond scams.
Wickremesinghe comfortably defeated the NCM on April 4.
Ranga flayed the TNA and its leader R. Sampanthan for not seeking an agreement with common candidate Maithripala Sirisena on the 6th Amendment to the Constitution when the latter sought its backing at the January 2015 presidential polls. The 6th Amendment dealt with the unitary status of the country.
One of the guests on the programme asserted that Sampanthan had failed to achieve their objectives as he accepted the appointment as the Leader of the Opposition.
The UK headquartered Global Tamil Forum (GTF) and its two key figures, Rev Father S.J. Emmanuel and Suren Surendiran were criticized over their approach.
Ranga claimed that one-time LTTE Special Commander Karuna received refuge in India after he quit the organization. Having abandoned the LTTE, Karuna threw his weight behind the government military campaign and thereby gave an advantage to the government.
The Minal programme was also told that wartime Mullaitivu Government Agent Imelda Sugumar could shed light on the actual number of people killed as she had access to records.