By Shamindra Ferdinando
A fresh countrywide survey is underway with the focus on the Northern and Eastern provinces to ascertain the number of deaths, including those of the combatants during the conflict, authoritative sources told The Island yesterday.
Sources said the government had launched the survey last December and was now in the process of collecting data.
The project was delayed due to the recently concluded local government polls though the National Integration and Reconciliation Ministry is confident that the required data can be tabulated within two months.
Responding to a query, sources said that the project had been initiated on the instructions of President Maithripala Sirisena, who also holds the national integration and reconciliation portfolio.
Sources said that in addition to the number of deaths, the questionnaire was aimed at ascertaining the number of disappearances and abductions and information about the handing over of combatants/suspects to the military on the Vanni east front and other such matters.
Sources stressed the importance of obtaining the required information directly from affected families. They said that as there wouldn’t be any restriction on affected parties, they could provide information regarding abductions, disappearances, deaths due to the conflict.
Information pertaining to disappearances and deaths in India as a result of New Delhi providing weapons training to Tamil youth there in the 1980s, during the deployment of the Indian Army in Sri Lanka in accordance with the Indo-Lanka accord (July 1987 to March 1990), abortive PLOTE (People’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) raid on the Maldives in Nov 1988, intra-group fighting, operations directed at the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) and fighting between armed forces and terrorist groups. In addition to them, there were deaths and disappearances of their own members caused by various Tamil groups.
There was a previous post-war survey undertaken by the Rajapaksa administration in the Northern and Eastern provinces though it wasn’t accepted by those who pursued war crimes inquiry. The UN placed the number of deaths of combatants and civilians in the Vanni between 2008 Aug to May 19, 2009 at 7,721 and over 18,000 wounded.