4th August 1996

The Jungle Telegraph

By Alia

Pay rise later

There is good news for Officers and men of the Sri Lanka Army.

Beginning this month, they will receive interim allowances until a pay rise for them is finally determined.

Officers will receive Rs. 3,000 whilst soldiers will be entitled to Rs. 2,000.

Only those serving in operational areas will be entitled to this allowance.

The north, east and the Anurahdhapura district are described as operational areas.

Who changed the name?

For the news starved local and foreign media, when their fax machines hummed on Friday afternoon, there was a great deal of anxiety. They thought there was more news on the Mullaitivu Military Base debacle.

It was not so. It was a press release from the Operational Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence to announce that "a major operation" was launched during the early hours of July 26, 1996, "with the aim of destroying LTTE terrorists and their strongholds in the mainland of the Northern Province."

The name given to the operation in the Press Release (No. 507) was "Hela Bala" or Sinhala Power.

Within minutes arrived another Press Release. It said "The code name of the Operation launched in the North is "Sathjaya" not "Hela Bala".

Who changed the name? Insiders say that at a discussion the top most rungs of the Army held in regard to the operation, the name given was "Operation Sathjaya".

They now want to know how the name-change occurred.

"That is an operation by itself", said one toprunger.

A marked breed

It can now be revealed that at a National Security Council meeting in April last year, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, asked then Director of National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), whether the LTTE which was holding talks with the Government would renege and take to fighting.

The local spymaster replied that they would not. But it did not take 24 hours after those words were uttered for the LTTE underwater frogmen to attack Naval craft in the Trincomalee harbour.

That is about the past.

But today's spymasters at the NIB appear to be much more aggressive. They are much in the news for most modern (state of the art) telephone tapping with new gadgetry.

Now some of them are accusing the political leadership for ignoring their warning on the CEB strike. They argue that a report, warning the political leaders of plans by CBE trade unions was sent, but the person or persons concerned did not read it on time. Hence the NIB was accused.

That is not all. NIB sleuths who sit by the side of Immigration Officers at Bandaranaike International Airport, it appears, have also launched their own tirade against media personnel.

Whenever a departing or arriving media person submits his Embarkation/Disembarkation form to the Immigration Officer, this is passed down to the NIB sleuth.

One journalist who returned recently, was asked why he went abroad and how long he stayed. Is all this part of a crackdown?

Return to the Editorial/Opinion contents page