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Friday, June 14, 2024

Sri Lanka: Is ‘Grease Yaka’ Masquerading as ‘AAVA’?

The Police have been ordered to crack down on the gang going by the acronym ‘AAVA’ which has been operating in the North for a couple of years, intent on instilling fear into the people with sudden day and nighttime visits brandishing swords and machetes.

Police sources said the government has deployed the STF and two other special Police teams in Jaffna to crack down on this gang that is creating the fear psychosis in the North and the country as a whole.

This sword gang of the North has been given a ‘terror tag’ and is not treated as lightly as others are.

There are cries from Northerners about a serious erosion of law and order and that public security was being ignored. Tamil politicians have complained that the Police has not been focusing adequately on the AAVA gang.

The public and newspapers in the South have raised concerns about this group. Youth in the Northern peninsula fear moving about because of AAVA as well as the newly deployed STF personnel.

Though a few AAVA activists have been arrested, the fear looms in the North.

AAVA’s attack on two Policemen immediately after the incident in which the Police shot dead a university student has alarmed the nation.

AAVA has also left several leaflets in Tamil, scattered around Jaffna stating that AAVA ‘will be there to deal with any injustice’ and has claimed responsibility for the sword attack. The notice printed in Tamil had ‘unusual’ grammatical errors.

Many have condemned the attack and wonder how anyone could appear out of nowhere brazenly and attack services personnel.

Security forces and the Tigers fought tooth and nail for 30 years leaving behind fear and a bitter taste mainly in the North.

The Chairman of the Northern Provincial Council C. V. K.Sivagnanam told the writer that an outside force is deliberately disturbing the hard earned peace.

He referred to AAVA as the grease yaka that once terrorized the North and East.

He said a ‘planned conspiracy’ is ‘doing its rounds’ from outside. “It has infiltrated into the peninsula but its root cause is yet to be clearly identified. He was referring to the sword attacks by the self-proclaimed ‘AAVA’ Group.

“We have trusted and have had confidence in the Police and still do despite this demonstration to drive home the fact that we are deeply displeased about the continuing military presence in the North. But this confidence should not be shattered,” he added.

Between the years 2011 and 2013 there were fears of a return of the grease yakas in the North and that phenomenon also crept into the East.

In Nintavur and Kalmunai, Trincomalee, Mannar and places in the Jaffna District (around 13 cases registered) villagers apprehended security personnel in civil clothing who were prowling around the area at night. They were handed over to the Police who released them and this angered the villagers. Any military involvement has not been proved so far.

“But no one has got to the bottom of the grease yaka and now the AAVA gangs,” says the NPC Chairman.

He says ‘the Tamils will dare not do that after undergoing turmoil and hardship during the war’ adding that ‘Unless and until someone is backing them and assuring them of protection, they will not venture out in this manner”.

The media on the whole wonder how a group can attack the Police in the North in broad daylight despite knowing quite well that the entire area is under a virtual security blanket.

The likelihood that AAVA is being backed by some powerful elements has not been ruled out.

If it’s not backed by powerful elements then it has to be just an ordinary gang like other gangsters operating anywhere in the country.

So what are AAVA’s links?

Ceylon Today contacted Army spokesman Brigadier Roshan Seneviratne to find out who is behind AAVA. He said the Police is tasked with ensuring law and order and so it’s rightfully their duty to probe.

When asked whether military intelligence is backing AAVA, he said it’s only the Police out there doing their duty and not the military. “The military is not responsible for AAVA,” he added.

Asked how AAVA operates when the peninsula is under surveillance, he said, “there are hardly any military check points. They are confined to barracks and it’s the Police that’s in charge of law enforcement today but should they need our support we are willing to help them to crack down on AAVA.

Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi would not commit himself to a comment but said there was a probe on about which he was not free to speak right now.

DIG Ajith Rohana said the Police could not comment on AAVA and directed us to the Information Department and the Ministry of Law and Order.

Ceylon Today was unable to contact Minister of Law and Order Sagala Ratnayake who did not respond to several phone calls. Last week when the media questioned him whether the miliatry is backing AAVA, he left without responding properly.

People in the North say AAVA has been around for almost two years but the authorities had taken no action against them.

Also many people in the North do not see AAVA as a threat as those in the South do.

Some opine that AAVA is from the South and is a ruse to deploy more security personnel to the North.

The government should immediately crack down on the group AAVA, the Tamils say in the North because they had enough in the past.
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By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
Ceylon Today



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