Hats off to the valiant Armed Forces for liberating the last
encampment of the LTTE in the Eastern Province. Actually Thoppigala is
dense jungle with a thick canopy where even elephants could hide and the
area is vast indeed.
It is possible that Thoppigala was the largest base of the LTTE with
Col. Karuna in full command. Devastating blows originated from
Thoppigala, sending even the mighty Indian Army into disarray. The
downfall of the Indian operation could be due to the impenetrable jungle
base where Tigers prowled day and night.
It is strange how former national political leaders failed to assess
the lethal potential of a conglomerate of bases in the vast jungle
hideout, from which the Tigers radiated penetrations far South up to
Yala, West up to Maha-oya and East up to the sea coast.
A broad corridor could have existed to the North where the terrorist
hierarchy had their headquarters in the Wanni region - once again in a
Thoppigala was a unique garrison where the fortifications were
natural features such as trees, boulders and rock outcrops with a hat
shaped hill standing sentinel - an excellent observation point. Added
security against intruders would have been provided by venomous snakes,
leopards, bears and elephants.
The incessant killings of civilians in Weli-Oya and the area
surrounding Thoppigala which include human settlements at Minneriya,
Polonnaruwa and the Mahaweli zones and the adjacent Muslim areas of
Potuvil, originated from this single base.
Therefore, Thoppigala was a curse and a nuisance to the peaceful
villagers of the Eastern Province. The massacres of civilians in
threatened areas was a mere training exercise. The astounding fact is
that it existed for over two decades and it is doubtful whether the area
was ever cleared previously.
The LTTE leader found it extremely difficult to maintain this
mega-base ever since Col Karuna bade him good-bye. Col. Karuna would
have known the base like the palm of his hand.
To say that Thoppigala is only thick jungle is old hat. It was
nothing but another evil innovation of the Tiger leader who successfully
held the jungle fortress which had no artificial infrastructure. Anyway
his last bastion in the East has fallen.
SUNIL J. PEIRIS
AirLanka under the Singaporean management picked up International
awards for their exceptional in-flight service because Singaporean
slogan, passed on to Sri Lankan staff, was: âSmile from the heart and
serve passengers with careâ. Regrettably with the passage of time, such
admirable instructions and in-flight services seem to have flown out of
Colombo-London flight UL 501 on June 30, having delayed by one hour
ultimately took off at 1415 hrs.
Usually the first thing after the take off would be to offer
passengers with a round of refreshments. In this instance, however,
considering the fact that boarding of the plane took place from 12.15
p.m. onwards and the passengers were âmaroonedâ inside an exit lounge
parched, getting hungry and the flight took off at 14.15, no
refreshments whatsoever was served till 1500 hours. The only service in
between was a distribution and collection of hand towels.
At 1500 hrs came a round of refreshments followed by lunch. I must
admit that the meal on the menu card on the Colombo-Maldives flight was
more appetising than the meal offered on the London flight.
In this particular flight at least a round of wine was offered as
opposed to two rounds in the past. On a previous night flight when wine
was not served at all with dinner and I made an enquiry, the answer
given to me was, âWe serve wine now only on request Sirâ.
Trying to relax as much as I could on a nearly 11 hour long flight I
thought I would relax watching a video or listen to some music. Alas!
the stereo earphone - set given to me was defective.
I summoned the purser and sought his assistance. The only thing he
did was to open the lid of an unused ashtray on my handrest beneath the
ear phone slot and say: âI think a previous user had broken the pin
inside - I will try and do somethingâ. That was the only assistance he
As a result, I could not use the entertainment facility at all during
my long haul.
In the meanwhile, the purser was seen walking up and down the aisle,
like a cock on a brick wall, with his head up, only choosing to speak to
one or two of his favourites who were on the flight.
The man had little realised that he earns his bread and butter out of
the passengers who pay and fly SriLankan Airlines and if he, being in
charge of the cabin crew as the purser, behaves in such an uncaring
manner, what could be expected from his team?
SriLankan Airlines need to realise that they are subjected to heavy
competition from other airlines which are cheaper and offer a quality
service. Itâs high time that the Management of SriLankan Airlines and
particularly those who are in charge of cabin crew recruitment take a
serious view of the deteriorating in-flight service which once upon a
time was renowned.
DR. TILAK S. FERNANDO
Skywards Member - UL 501
Seat No. 12D