The controversy surrounding the exact number of cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who surrendered to the Sri Lanka Army during the final stages of the war, has resurfaced with the claim by Sri Lanka Army that LTTE cadres had not surrendered to them while families of missing LTTE cadres claim that it was only the military on the ground during the last stages of the war.
The Army had made this claim in response to a Right to Information (RTI) application submitted by a journalist seeking information on LTTE cadres who reportedly surrendered to the military during the final stages of the war.
The response given by the Army was published in many Northern Tamil newspapers, but the story had not reached the media in the South.
According to the Northern Tamil media reports, the Army had claimed the LTTE cadres had surrendered to government authorities and not to the military.
The response by the Army to the RTI application has now stirred up emotions among families of missing rebels, former LTTE cadres as well as Tamil politicians.
Several LTTE cadres had reportedly surrendered to the Army during the final stages of the war but there has not been any information on the exact number or their identities.
The latest claim by the Sri Lanka Army has also stirred up the controversial “White Flag” case where several LTTE leaders who had reportedly surrendered to the military during the final stages of the war were gunned down.
Meanwhile, former LTTE cadre Chandralingam alias Thulasi has told the weekly English newspaper, The Sunday Morning that there was no doubt LTTE cadres surrendered directly to the army.
He has said that he was among those who surrendered to the Army and was later rehabilitated and released.
Thulasi has noted that during the final stages of the war, only the Army had access to the war zone and not government officials.
Various attempts have been made since the end the war to obtain information on the LTTE cadres who had surrendered to the Army.
Leaked videos after the war also showed LTTE cadres, including several female LTTE cadres being screened by the military.
Also, former Northern Provincial Council member Anandi Saseetharan has told The Sunday Morning that she had no doubt that LTTE cadres surrendered to the Army during the final stages of the war. Her husband Elilan was among the LTTE cadres she claims had surrendered to the Army.
Saseetharan, who also campaigns on behalf of the families of the missing, has said that the news claiming that LTTE cadres did not surrender to the Army has created a lot of anguish among the families of missing LTTE members.
The Army however, maintains that the LTTE cadres had surrendered to government officials and not to the military during the final stages of the war.
Army spokesman Brigadier Sumith Atapattu has said the Army had only acted as the facilitator to hand over those who surrendered to officials from the Rehabilitation Ministry or department.
According to the Spokesperson, the Army was the first point of contact for the LTTE cadres who surrendered in the war zone.
He has added that all those who surrendered were taken to safe areas and then handed over to government officials.