Ex-Lankan minister held for LTTE comment

Vijeyakala Maheswaran

Colombo: A former Sri Lankan minister and Tamil member of parliament has been arrested for allegedly making controversial remarks favouring the banned outfit LTTE, police said on Monday.

Vijeyakala Maheswaran, who was Sri Lanka’s lone Tamil woman minister, during an event in Jaffna in June had said that the law and order situation was fast deteriorating in the northern province and its people felt that they were better off under the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) when they ran a parallel administration.

She said that there was no social crimes during the LTTE time. The LTTE had run a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern provinces of the island nation for nearly 30 years before its collapse in 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Maheswaran, who was working as a State Minister of Child Affairs from the northern Tamil region representing the ruling United National Party (UNP) led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, had resigned in July after her controversial remarks that led to an uproar in Parliament.

Maheshwaran was asked to appear before the police’s organised crime division on Monday to record her statement on the alleged remarks. Following pressure from the nationalist opposition of the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, Maheswaran was stripped of her state ministerial position and was subject to an inquiry.

The probe was to establish if she had endangered the national security by openly promoting banned terrorist organisation LTTE. The Speaker was asked to remove her from the parliament by opposition members who disrupted the sittings early July.

Later, a police inquiry was ordered and the opinion of the Attorney General was sought. Maheswaran had publicly explained her comments saying she was moved by the rising crime against the women in the north and the police’s inability to tackle them.