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SINHALESE OF ABJECT POVERTY PAY TIGERS A RANSOM OF RS. 25,000 AFTER POLICE AND ARMY CITING MOU LIMITS REFUSE TO INTERVENE

By Walter Jayawardhana reporting from Los Angeles

Sinhalese villagers of abject poverty in the Eastern Province had to collect twenty-five thousand Rupees putting together all their savings to pay extortion money demanded by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to save five kidnapped villagers after the Sri Lankan government security forces and the Sri Lanka Police informed them that they were unable to intervene under the cease fire agreement reached between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and terrorist leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.
According to the villagers, although Rupees 140,000 were demanded initially by the Tamil Tigers to release the five villagers of the Aralaganvila area who were captured while gathering timber in the jungles the Tamil Tigers finally settled for the lesser amount after being told about the abject poverty of the villagers, Lakbima correspondent, in Polonnaruwa, Indumathie Jayasena reported over the Sinhala program of the BBC, the Sandeshaya.

She reported that after the payment of the 25, 000 rupees the Tamil Tigers released the kidnapped villagers Sunday evening after holding them captive overnight.

The villagers from Ridipokuna, in the Mahaveli Development Scheme went to the jungles of Maduru Oya River to cut timber for the construction of their houses. Armed cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam abducted the party of six villagers in the jungles. All the armed men had the typical cyanide capsules hanging from their necks and they introduced themselves as members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. They were taken to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam camp at Vadamunai, the report said.

One of the captives, Sunil Rajapaksa of Ridipokuna was released with the message that the rest of the five villagers would only be released if the Tigers were paid Rupees 140,000 as ransom. The villagers were told not to inform the incident to the security forces or the Police. If any conditions were to be broken the captives would be killed, they told Rajapaksa. The Tigers said the jungle in which they were cutting timber belonged to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Anyway the villagers informed the Police and the security forces, but they refused any intervention citing restrictions under the ceasefire agreement between the government and the Tigers. Then they started raising money to pay the ransom. The villagers of abject poverty were able to collect only Rupees 25,000 after putting together all their savings.

The people who went to pay the ransom to the Tiger camp mitigated their case by telling that they were people of hand to mouth existence raising their families with the utmost difficulty and were unable to pay 140,000 Rupees. The Tigers finally settled for Rupees 25,000 and agreed to release the five in custody.

 


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