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The Commander of the Sri Lankan army in the Jaffna peninsula, Maj Gen Mahinda Hathurusinghe, has said that with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) glorifying the slain LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in its campaign for the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) elections, there was a possibility of reactivating about 4,000 former Tiger combatants, who are still at large.

“There are about 4,000 former cadre of the LTTE who have not undergone rehabilitation. These could be mustered by the TNA leadership,” Gen Hathurusinghe told Express over phone from Jaffna.

The Lankan army and the Colombo-based media are alarmed by a recent speech made by the TNA’s chief ministerial candidate C V Wigneswaran at Valvettithurai, the birthplace of Prabhakaran. Wigneswaran had said: “Prabhakaran is indeed a hero. President Mahinda Rajapaksa knows that the LTTE leader Prabhakaran was a warrior. I am not the only person who is of this opinion. The President of the country Mahinda Rajapaksa has also recognized Prabhakaran as a great hero. I speak out on the soil of the birth of Prabhakaran. He is not a terrorist.”

“When Prabhakaran was alive, the President came forward on his own to grant 13 Amendment plus (an improved devolution package). Now that Prabhakaran is no more, the President has begun to speak of 13 Amendment minus and even to the extent of saying there is no such thing as the 13th Amendment. This is because President Rajapaksa accepted Prabhakaran as a hero. He came forward to yield concessions to the Tamils. But he is not prepared for it now. Prabhakaran is not a terrorist. He was a hero and a warrior who fought for the liberation of the Tamils.”

Wigneswaran’s speech was distributed in other parts of Jaffna and some TNA activists were arrested in this connection.

Southern politicians and media have lambasted the TNA for demanding in its manifesto, “self-determination” for the Tamils, albeit within Sri Lanka through a federal constitution.

The Sinhalese consider this to be a separatist slogan, New Indian Express reports.