Soon after the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka the government was left with a colossal task of rebuilding the country especially the battle scarred North and East. The region was devastated by the mayhem brought down on the people by the ruthless terror campaign unleashed by the LTTE terrorist.
During the three decade long the LTTE had eliminated all dissenting voices and held sway literally running its own administration at one point of the conflict.
It illegally operated its own financial system including banks that drew in deposits and pawning like any other legitimate bank. These so called ‘LTTE Eelam’ banks were an effort by the terror outfit to launder its ill gained money within the country. People who lived in LTTE dominated areas were left with no option but to seek the services of these illegal banks to fulfill their banking needs. Gold takes an important role in the lives of the Tamil community. It not is a tool of investment but also adorns the images of their deities in temples and at homes.
In its banks the LTTE had gold jewellery pawned by the innocent people who sought these banks during times of difficulty. With the retreat of the LTTE during the Humanitarian Operation these banks were abandoned and much of its assets including the gold and money were taken away by LTTE cadres. The advancing security forces after securing the areas took stock of the ground situation and found some of the gold left behind in the so called Eelam banks and some were hidden in bunkers and other hideouts. The whole world witnessed these events in the TV during the final phase of the war.
On finding some of these Gold, the security forces secured these assets and after proper identification and inventory kept it under tight security and custody until finding the owners or handing over the same to the Central Bank.
With the end of the humanitarian operation in May 2009 the government began its national reconciliation process. During this period rump groups operating in western nations together with their local support groups set about on a concerted effort to tarnish the image of the Government and the security forces in the eyes of international community by accusing them of misappropriating the gold that were recovered from the LTTE illegal banks and other hideouts. Even then the security forces commanders acknowledged the discovery of these and its eventual safekeeping. It is worth mentioning that the neither government nor security forces did not in any occasion deny the discovery of these valuables.
These baseless allegations were made by these groups in order to undermine the national reconciliation process. The recovery of these valuables were well documented and kept in safe keeping locations. During the period of post war development phase under a presidential direction security forces made arrangements to identify the owners of these gold jewellery. So far after much effort Security forces in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Wanni and Mannar have been able to identify 2377 such owners after going through stringent identification and verification process which took considerable amount of time. Among them 25 persons representing the districts of the Northern Province had received their valuables during a symbolic handing over ceremony held today (12th October) by His Excellency the President at Kilinochchi. Even though these people have taken money after pawning their valuables to the LTTE the government is returning them their gold as a gesture of goodwill.
The names list of the remaining identified recipients will be put up for public view at the Civil Coordinating Offices in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and Mannar. They will be able to claim their gold once their identity is identified and the ownership verified, in a future date.
In addition, anyone who is in the possession of a receipt or any acceptable documents issued by these LTTE illegal banks with regard to their gold, can also approach the civil coordination office of their respective region and can complete the required official documentation and assist the security forces to identify their lost gold, if its available with security forces.
In the event of any gold being left will be handed over to the Central Bank in keeping with state regulations.
The security forces had to undergo immense hardship and conduct a painstaking process to catalogue, identify, verify the gold and their owners. This effort was undertaken in keeping with a special directive of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This is just one instance which reflects the commitment of the government and the security forces in creating reconciliation and lasting peace. (defence.lk)