Former combatants of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were linked to recent incidents of unrest in the North, giving rise to fresh speculations of an LTTE-regrouping in the North.
Claims that these former cadres, some rehabilitated, are involved raise more questions than concerns over the progress of the government, and of the country in moving towards reconciliation.
Former cadres have a crucial role to play in the country’s reconciliation process, and the country has a duty to accept them.
From day one of the post war period, the government initiated a programme to rehabilitate cadres who were arrested and those who surrendered to the military during the final phase of fighting.
Almost 12,000 cadres who were involved with the LTTE in various capacities underwent rehabilitation in various centres islandwide .
The aim was obviously to ensure that they do not resort to violence. The effectiveness of the rehabilitation process does not depend solely on the programme itself. Its effectiveness mostly depends on the post rehabilitation environment of those who have been reintegrated into the society.
Once back in the society, these ex-combatants face numerous challenges to get on with their lives. Some are not accepted in their families while others cannot find suitable employment. Then there are those who are at loss about their future. When the war ended in 2009, one of the most important factors that was looked into was the welfare of the youth.
It was important for the government to ensure that the young boys and girls were occupied with something useful such as education or employment. It was important because it needed to ensure that the youngsters do not get frustrated about their future and resort to violence.
Eight years after, the North is once again the focal point due to violence. There are armed groups. Some of the violent incidents have been attributed to ex-combatants while some to youngsters who are frustrated due to lack of opportunities and avenues.
While this may not look threatening at the moment, it is a matter of concern, not only for the public, but also for the law enforcement authorities.
Trying to curb violence is only one part of the solution. The other is when a conducive environment is established for the youth to pursue their passion and dreams.
Published in the Nation on August 13, 2017