India Intelligence Report

   SLMM Says Lanka Army behind Civilian Killings


For the first time, the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) has acknowledged that the Sri Lankan Army (SLA), sponsored militia, and rebel factions of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been behind civilian disappearances and extra-judicial killings. The 60 odd unarmed SLMM officials from Nordic nations do not accuse the entire SLA but only some renegade parts of it.

Pointing out many instances of such killings, the SLMM says that at least in one case, a woman was shot at point blank range within 60 meters of an SLA check post but the soldiers claim they have not seen or heard anything. SLA spokesperson Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe denies that the SLA personnel are involved claiming, “they are disciplined.”

Some analysts believe that the LTTE wanted to deliberately provoke the SLA into retaliation to gain sympathy for their cause. The SLMM says that the SLA targeted civilians they thought were connected to the LTTE.

The LTTE have been attacking SLA and the Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) targets through mines and suicide attacks. In a recent attack, a SLN fast attack boat was sunk and 15 sailors missing. The SLN claims that it sunk 6 LTTE’s Sea Tiger boats killing 30 of them.

Meanwhile, India is showing no interest to clear arms requests by Sri Lanka for a variety of reasons. First, India is reportedly unhappy about the lack of progress of a Defense Cooperation Agreement despite discussions for over two years and it views that such an Agreement is necessary to embark on such a serious affair. Second, the Tamil Nadu state elections was scheduled 1st week of May and any decisions on arming Sri Lanka would have negative implication in the State. Third, any support to Sri Lanka must require a strong show of strength on sea by the Navy and this is not something India is ready to commit to.

Sri Lanka’s list of arms includes:

  • Maintenance contracts, spares, and laser-guided bomb upgrade kits for its Mig-27 Air Force, penetration bombs, rocket pod systems, and strafing ammunition. New Delhi has not responded to this request and Sri Lanka has reportedly contacted Pakistan to get hold of such equipment. 

  • Ship-based mortars, ammunition, small attack craft, and sea mines for the SLN. India has release some non-lethal weapons but not acceded to the full request. 

  • Multi-barrel rocket launchers, mortars, air defense artillery, 5.65 mm weapons, ground radars, armored troop carriers, unmanned aerial vehicles, Milan anti-tank jeeps, and mine-protection vehicles for the SLA. India has released a couple of radars.

There is increasing proclivity for India’s neighbors such as Sri Lanka and Nepal to play the Pakistan card to get India’s attention. While Pakistan may be able to provide some weapons in the near term, it is impossible for that country to sustain any long-term military assistance. Instead of being drawn into this we-will-go-to-Pakistan ploy, India needs to be more proactive in dealing with its neighbors in dealing with their military, social, and democratic institutions.

For instance, India can train SLA officers and impress on them the value of human rights that it has learned over the years in fighting insurgency. Similarly, it can facilitate visits to the National Human Rights Council (NHRC) by Sri Lankan rights groups and army personnel to inculcate the value of preserving the dignity of humans even in a bitter fight.