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Sri Lanka re-imposes ban on LTTE

T V Sriram in Colombo | January 07, 2009 23:46 IST

Sri Lankan government on Wednesday night decided to formally ban the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a move signalling end of prospects of peace talks with the Tamil Tigers against whom the security forces have launched a major offensive.

Sri Lanka [Images] joined countries like India, the United States and the EU, who have already proscribed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE [Images]) headed by V Prabhakaran.

The decision to ban the outfit with effect from midnight on Wednesday was taken at an emergency Cabinet meeting chaired by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

After the meeting, senior Cabinet minister Maithripala Sirisena told media persons that government took the decision to ban LTTE as civilians were being held in the rebel-controlled areas against their will.

Late last month, Rajapaksa had threatened to impose a ban on the LTTE if it did not release civilians trapped in the rebel strongholds of Killinocchi and Mullaittivu, which are witnessing intense fighting. However, Army captured Killinocchi, the defacto political capital of Tiger rebels, on January 2.

"If the LTTE does not take steps to release all civilians trapped in the Wanni, then the terrorist outfit can expect to be banned and moreover erased for all time from the history books," Rajapaksa had said.

He had also ruled out any ceasefire agreement with the LTTE, which he believed would facilitate the division of the country by strengthening of separatist forces.

Sri Lanka had banned the LTTE in 1978 and lifted it after the Indo-Lanka accord in 1987.

Again, the outfit was proscribed on January 26, 1998, a day after the Dalada Maligawa was bombed by the LTTE militants and the proscription was lifted soon after the ceasefire agreement in February 2002.

India had also banned the LTTE in 1992, a year after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi [Images] by a female tiger suicide bomber.

India has been extending the ban on the LTTE under the Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act, on the ground that it is an unlawful association and there is a continuing need to control all its separatist activities by all possible means.

LTTE Supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran appealed to India in November last year to lift the ban on the outfit.

"Our people always consider India as our friend. They have great expectations that the Indian super power will take a positive stand on our national question," he had said.

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