Thursday, Feb 13, 2003
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By V. S. Sambandan
COLOMBO. FEB. 12. A fracas over black belts worn by women cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam today brought areas of the northern Jaffna peninsula to a halt.
The dramatic events of the day started when a soldier reportedly saw the woman cadres entering government-held territory with a waist-belt worn over their shirts and removed it as it was violating the ceasefire agreement.
Under the ceasefire agreement, LTTE cadres are not allowed to enter government-held territory in uniforms or with arms. Waist-belts above the shirt are a common practice among the women fighters who don the battle fatigues. When the soldier attempted to remove the belt from one of the women cadres, the others reportedly pounced on him, leading to fisticuffs.
This incident, at Manipay junction in the northern peninsula, sparked a civilian protest outside the army camp, which led to the closure of shops. Riot police were called in and the situation reportedly worsened with baton charging.
A few days ago another group of LTTE women cadres were stopped when they were entering the government-held territory. The argument by the LTTE cadres was that they were not in uniform and hence should be allowed entry.
The waist-belts above their jackets and their typical hairstyle, either cropped or closely braided, make them stand out in a crowd.
Today's incident, close on the heels of last week's suicide explosion on an LTTE trawler, comes as yet another pointer to the fragile nature of the year-long ceasefire.
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