For the past two months the Sri Lankan government, using the state media, has been trying to pull off the impossible. They have been projecting the terrible losses suffered by the army at Kilinochchi, on the road to Jaffna where an estimated 1500 or more soldiers perished in September, as a relatively small price to pay for the capture of Mankulam, also on the road to Jaffna though at a more southward point. One justification provided was that, in percentage terms, the LTTE had lost far more than the army.   The Sri Lankan media has been forced to put up with censorship by the military for the past seven months. The country has known censorship before, but it had mostly been for partisan political purposes and never before have the armed forces been the censors. At one level, what censorship has done is help the government lull the Sri Lankans´ sense of outrage and transport them to a fantasy land where defeat is victory, and where the dead are not "dead" but "missing".

These propagandistic accounts are beginning to have an impact, but not in the way the government would want it. Can the situation be really so bad? Would the government lie so blatantly? The censorship of news coupled with government propaganda has caused doubts to rise. This is true mainly for people living in the cities, as, unlike their rural counterparts, most of them do not have relatives at the northern front, nor do they have access to the informal network of news-gathering of the villages.

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Himal Southasian