THAMIL NATIONAL LIBERATION STRUGGLE AND  NATIONAL LEADER PRABHAKARAN

 

(Published on behalf of  WTM-Canada)

 

Part 1

 

Dedication

 

This profile is dedicated to all those KArthikai (November) flames and MArkazhi (December) blossoms who  forsaking  their own dreams and  carrying  in their hearts the dreams of their Motherland  reddened the soil of  Thamil Eelam with their  blood.

  

Preface

 

Prabhakaran, the greatest military strategist and guerilla leader this century has produced, shines today as the undisputed National Leader of the people of Thamil Eelam and the morning star of  sixty million   Thamils around the world.

 

The World Thamil Movement is publishing this profile 'Prabhakaran, the National Leader of Thamil Eelam and the Thamil Eelam War of Liberation with great pleasure and pride.   We are doubly overjoyed to see this publication coming out on the 6th  Anniversary of the Thamil National Heroes Day.

 

There is a general belief that the Thamils have failed to record their long history precisely and in proper sequence.  Not only the history of Thamil Nadu, but also of Thamil Eelam had not been properly recorded.  The history of   the powerful  “Jaffna Kingdom”  that existed in Thamil Eelam from the beginning of the 13th  to the first half of 17th century had not been fully chronicled for posterity.

 

Hence, by publishing this book we get a great amount of  psychological  and moral satisfaction that we have fulfilled our historic duty to future generations at least to  some extent.

 

In this profile  we have very briefly sketched  the origin and  the various stages of the evolvement  of  the Thamil Eelam liberation struggle, the  war strategy, the awakening of Thamil Nationalism and  the foundation for the building up of the infra-structure of Thamil Eelam.  Also we have briefly  chronicled    the life history of  our National Leader Prabhakaran, his childhood days, his life underground, his political and military activities and above all  his extraordinary   and towering personality.

 

We can aptly compare the Thamil liberation struggle and its leader Prabhakaran to the two banks of a river.  We cannot  imagine of a liberation struggle without its leader Prabhakaran or a leader Prabhakaran without the liberation struggle. We cannot separate one from the other. The history of our liberation struggle and the life of Prabhakaran are inextricably intertwined with each other.

 

We feel extremely proud to live during his life time.  We have unshakable faith that under his heroic leadership, the Tiger forces will march undauntedly to the battle front, vanquish  the enemies and win back the lost sovereignty and freedom of Thamil Eelam.

 

In this struggle for the liberation of our Motherland, the Thamil Diaspora  should contribute their due share and fulfill their historical duty. We fully  hope that this profile  will  help to  arouse the Thamil Diaspora not just emotionally, but intellectually as well to contribute its due share.

 

Political Wing

The World Thamil Movement

Toronto,

27-11-1994

 

 

Thamil National Liberation Struggle  and National  Leader Prabhakaran

 

 Prabhagood.jpg (23229 bytes)

Our National Leader Prabhakaran

 

Chapter I

 

Family Background and Childhood Days of Prabhakaran

 

Valvettithurai  was one of the important Northern ports during the period of  the Jaffna Kingdom and even before. It served as a bridge between northern Thamil Eelam and the port of Kodikkarai in Thamil Nadu.  The people of Valvettithurai  are  brave sailors who traveled the stormy seas and amassed great wealth through trade. This sea-port has earned an indelible fame  in the annals of Thamil Eelam. This is because it is the birthplace of Prabhakaran,  founder of the  Liberation Tigers of Thamil Liberation (LTTE),  who with popular support of the people is  leading the Thamil Eelam  National struggle. He is now unanimously accepted as the National Leader of Thamil Eelam.  He was born in this historic village on 26th, November 1954.

 

“Thirumeniyar family” is one of the reputed families  in Valvettithurai. Thirumeniyar is one of 4 sons born to Iyampillai Velayuthar. His brothers are Gnanamoorthiyar, Puniyamoorthiyar and Arumugathaar. Thirumeniyar’s maternal uncle Ponnambalam was a successful businessman and was conferred with the title of  Mudali during the Dutch period.   Thirumeniyar Venkadasalam alias Thirumeniyar Periyathambiyar erected the famous Vaitheeswaran Sivan temple of Valvai  according to the wish of his father. The temple construction commenced in 1867 and was consecrated  in 1883. He renovated two more temples viz Vaikunthap Pillayar and Puddanip Pilaiyar temples. He also built many  Madams  for the use of  pilgrims at   Mullaithivu. The family also  built two more temples.  Valvai Muthu Mariamman temple and Nediyakadu Pillaiyar temple.  Another family called Methaiveedu Nagalingam lived in the adjoining town  of Point Pedro.  This family was also reputed for building many temples in this area.  These two families were joined together through marriage. Thiruvenkadam Velupillai of Thirumeniyar family married Paarvathy of Nagalingam family.

 

 Prabhakaran is the youngest child born in that family.  Prabhakaran has one elder brother and two elder sisters. All of them are happily married and settled down in life. One of  his sister Vinothini Rajendram is in Canada. The other sister are brother are living in Denmark. 

 

Prabhakaran's father served under the Ceylon government as a District Land Officer for several years. Prabhakaran’s father and mother are domiciled in Tiruchi, Thamil Nadu at present.

 

Prabhakaran had his education up  to 10th  grade at Sithamparam Vidyalayam in Oorikkadu,  Valvettithurai.

 

In those days  the  sole  ambition of children from affluent and middle class families was to receive good English education and then seek employment abroad or secure employment in the  government.  But from his childhood days Prabhakaran's way of thinking was completely different.

 

When he travelled with his father to the other parts of Ceylon he saw for himself how the Sinhalese policemen ill-treated innocent Thamil people by kicking and beating them.  Such incidents caused  shock and pain and left deep scars in his psyche.

 

Especially, the first  major genocidal attack  against  the Thamils during 1958  affected his mind profoundly.  Still in his teens, he heard numerous heart-aching stories of inhuman and brutal murders of Thamils by  racist Sinhalese goon squads and  thugs.

 

He heard at first hand from a widowed mother  who is   well known to his parents  the anguish and pain she suffered. How  Thamil children were killed by heartless mobs  by throwing them into cauldrons  of boiling tar. How a Hindu priest was burnt alive at a temple in Panadura.    So when he came to know  how the unfortunate Thamils have been at the receiving end of horrible  attacks at the hands of Sinhalese goons, he developed deep sympathy, love and a firm resolve to defend   the defenseless  the Thamil people.

 

So he perfected  an  irresistible urge in his mind to free the Thamil people from the clutches of the oppressive Sinhalese government.  He came to the firm and resolute conclusion that the only way to confront the racist Sinhalese government which used military might against the defenseless and innocent Thamil people is through  armed struggle.

 

So during his student days,  he and his friends learnt the art of making improvised hand grenades.  On one such occasion a grenade exploded accidentally and he received   burnt marks on his leg. After medical treatment the burnt area became  black. This earned him the nickname  'Karikalan' (person with a blackened leg) when he was still a young  lad.

 

The   standardization system introduced by the Sinhala government in 1971 acted as a stumbling block against Thamil students  gaining  entry to Universities after finishing  high school.   Prabhakaran who studied up to 10th  grade could not continue his studies because of his involvement as  a liberation fighter.

 

Prabhakaran parents were completely unaware of his clandestine activities.  But  the opportunity for the parents to know of his clandestine revolutionary activities came  knocking at the door on its own. 

 

One day a posse of policemen  came in search of Prabhakaran. They knocked at the front door of his house at  the unholy hour of 3 a.m. in the morning.  Immediately on hearing the knocks, Prabhakaran  immediately knew it is the Police had come in search of him. Sensing trouble, he  vanished through the back door into the darkness of the night without anyone's  knowledge.  

 

Prabhakaran’s   mother opened the door and was startled to see several policemen in khaki uniform standing in front of the house.   She was shocked because at that time she was unaware of Prabhakaran’s involvement  in any ‘clandestine  movement’.  Finally, after  a thorough search of the house  a disappointed  Police went back empty handed  failing to apprehend  Prabhakaran. He   was only 19 years old  at that time   and he never returned home thereafter.

 

When his father came to know of his involvement in revolutionary activities, he went to Prabhakaran’s hide- out  and brought him back home.

Prabhakaran told his parents  "I will never be of  any use to you or to other members of the  family.  Let there be no  trouble for you because of me.  Please  allow me to go my own way. In future never expect anything from me."  So saying he left the house.  Then he  plunged  himself fully in the clandestine activities of the movement. He   became a full time activist living under ground and moving from place to place to escape arrest by the Police.Prabhachild.jpg (13614 bytes)

               

His Early Comrades in the Revolutionary Movement

 

His early comrades  in the movement were youngsters and relatives from his own village of Valvettithurai.  This  is to be expected    when a revolutionary movement is launched by someone still  in his teens.   Such a situation  is unavoidable and quite natural.  

 

The Birth of the New Thamil Tigers

 

During the early part of 1970, strong repressive measures unleashed by the government against  Thamils and the blatant discrimination perpetuated against  them in all spheres of life created a strong wave of resentment among  Thamil youths.   They were itching to launch some retaliatory action against the Sinhalese chauvinistic government.  Neither the Thamil political parties nor  the Sinhalese leftist organizations understood the simmering mind-set  of the Thamil youths. 

 

The Thamil youths thought that there were no Thamil political leaders or organizations to stand up and fight on behalf of the oppressed Thamil people.  Although the Thamil leaders  engaged themselves in various non-violent struggles for  more than 30 years,  they were treated like outcasts by the government.   No one   listened  to their  protests in Parliament.  Their protests echoed like cries  in the wilderness.

 

The leftist parties which became victims of Sinhalese chauvinism after 1956  worked against the Thamils.  So they too          completely ignored the political struggle of the Thamils.  Therefore,  the Thamil youths were not  prepared to trust these  leftist parties as well.            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   "Thamby"  

Under these circumstances a student movement was started in 1970 under the name  “Thamizh MAnavar PEravai” ('Thamil Students Union').  The TSU  brought together all the Thamil students  and mounted several protest demonstrations, rallies and processions against standardization to University admissions introduced by  the government.   The TSU  became a powerful force among the Thamil students.  Thamil youths gradually began to realise that only through an armed  revolutionary struggle  that  Thamils could liberate themselves from the tyranny of  Sinhalese hegemonic rule.  

 

The TSU grew to  become a very strong organization. Prabhakaran was in the forefront as the leader of the militant wing.   As he was the youngest person in that group he was  fondly called 'Thamby'  (younger brother) by other  members of the group. Even today there are people who call him by this name.  At the beginning,  these young men learnt the art of making hand grenades and  using firearms all by themselves.  There were about   25 young men in this  militant  group,  all of them close associates of Prabhakaran  hailing  from Valvettithurai.

 

During this time  to show their opposition to the government,  4 youths under the leadership of Prabhakaran decided to set fire to a government owned Ceylon Transport Board (CTB) bus.  But  half way.  through fear  the other three ran away. Only Prabhakaran who was only 16 years-old  at that time  boldly set fire to the bus and returned.   Prabhakaran’s boldness earned  the admiration of   every one without exception.  Those members of the group who were older than him  admired Prabhakaran’s  bravery and his ability to execute  successfully all the difficult tasks assigned to him.  All members reposed confidence in Prabhakaran who became symbolic of Thamil militancy and forerunner of Thamil militant movement.

 

At the same time, the Sinhalese government which was closely monitoring the activities of the TSU attempted to suppress it  by using brute force. Some members of the TSU were arrested and tortured  by the police.  Unable to bear the torture, a few of them broke-down and spilled the beans. In the process they unwittingly betrayed their colleagues to the police.  Then the Sinhala police started to hunt down  members of the militant group. They arrested many of them, locked them in prisons and tortured them. It was during this period  the 4th Storey  building in Colombo Fort became famous for torturing Thamil youths. Not wishing to take unnecessary risk, Prabhakaran went over to Thamil Nadu.

 

Prabhakaran did not  stay long in Thamil Nadu. He returned to Thamil Eelam during the early part of 1972. There was an urge among the  various revolutionary youths  who remained   scattered  for  a revolutionary leadership to head a strong  revolutionary   movement wedded to revolutionary political philosophy.  It is under these circumstances the New Thamil Tigers  was launched   by Prabhakaran in the middle part of 1972. He was  only 17 years- old at that time.  The movement was organized with very strict code of conduct and discipline from the very beginning.  

 

Chapter  2

 

New Thamil Tigers and Their Activities

 

Prabhakaran was both the leader and military commander of  the “ New Thamil Tigers”.   From the very beginning,  Prabhakaran  himself  personally recruited  young men committed to firmness, determination and renunciation (of life) and revolutionary flavour to the movement. He  himself  provided them the required military training.

 

(1) First Military Operation

 

The first military  operation of  the  “ New Thamil Tigers' was carried out under the  command of Prabhakaran on July 17th 1975. Alfred Duraiappah, the then Mayor of Jaffna and  S.L.F.P. Jaffna electorate  organizer was the first victim. He was shot dead when he came to worship at the  Varatharajah Perumal Temple at Ponnalai.  After the  successful operation  the  Thamil Tigers escaped in the Mayor's car after snatching the keys from the driver. 

 

The credit for planning, executing and leading  the first operation  successfully goes to  Prabhakaran.   This incident became a strong warning signal to  those Thamil traitors who wanted  to betray the Thamil  people’s   liberation struggle.  Above everything, this incident gave  confidence to  the  freedom-thirsty Thamil youths in their  long and difficult march towards Thamil Eelam. Many youths joined the movement in the fight against internal and external enemies under  the  able  and trusted leadership  of Prabhakaran.

 

(2) “New Thamil Tigers”

 

The clandestine movement  needed large amount of  funds to operate underground.    Therefore, they were forced to rob government owned banks to  finance their activities.  Although the Sri Lankan government collected  revenue in the form of taxes from all the people,  it neglected completely the Thamil areas in national development schemes.  Prabhakaran, therefore,  felt   that it is not immoral  to rob the government to  finance the Thamil liberation struggle.  So on 5th March 1976, Prabhakaran with his comrades entered the People's Bank branch at Puthur in broad light and took away 5 lakhs in cash and 2 lakhs worth of jewelry at gunpoint.

 

After the murder of Alfred Duraiappah  and the bank robbery the government set up a special intelligence squad in the North. It was created   by the Police Headquarters in Colombo  with the sole purpose of completely wiping-out the New Thamil Tigers.  This division commenced  its work in Thamil areas with the help of informants and traitors.

  

(3) Liberation Tigers of Thamil Eelam

 

The “ New Thamil Tigers'” organization took  the new name of Liberation Tigers of Thamil Eelam (LTTE) on May 5th 1976.  Prabhakaran remained  the political leader and military commander.  Some stringent rules and regulations  in force during the time of  the New Thamil Tigers  were relaxed   and new regulations were introduced with the object of  facilitating the participation of all  people  in  the Thamil Eelam liberation struggle.

 

Furthermore, Prabhakaran constituted the organization as an urban guerrilla  movement  with the objective of carrying out  a  long drawn-out  people’s war for the national liberation  of Thamil people. 

 

With prophetic foresight Prabhakaran realized  that the guerrilla   method of warfare is the only viable  option for unarmed  and numerically smaller nation to fight against the military  might of the Sinhala chauvinistic regime.  He also correctly anticipated that a guerrilla warfare  will be a fore-runner to a  full-blooded armed  mass liberation struggle in which everyone will participate.

 

By way of explanation Prabhakaran said  "Guerrilla  warfare is really   mass struggle.   It is not  in conflict with   mass struggle.  Guerrilla warfare is the highest form of   mass struggle. When it takes root in the hearts of the entire populace and reflect their  aspirations it becomes a mass struggle.  My object is to achieve this purpose of making all take active part in this guerilla warfare."

 

In this liberation struggle, leader Prabhakaran divided the military activities of Liberation Tigers of Thamil Eelam into three main divisions.

 

(1) Eliminating  Sri Lanka’s   police spies and  Thamil traitors who help them.

 

(2) Crippling  the administrative structure of the Sri Lankan police force functioning in  Thamil Eelam.

 

(3) Destroying army  troops  and camps  by  mounting covert and overt attacks and bring them  under LTTE control   followed by setting up civil administration appropriate to the Thamil people through which self-rule is established in Thamil Eelam.

 

On   July 02, 1976   Nadarajah,  Manager  Petrol depot.  from Urumpirai was shot dead. 

 

On Feb 14,  1977   police constable Karunanithy   was shot dead at  Maviddapuram.

 

On May 18, 1977 two policemen bearing the same name Shanmuganathan  were shot dead at Inuvil. 

 

(In   August 1977,   the UNP. government successfully carried out a genocidal attack on   Thamils' throughout the island.) 

 

On   January 27,  1978  Kanagaratnam, TULF   candidate for  Pottuvil was shot at Colombo.

 

On April 07, 1978 Inspector Bastiampillai, who gained notoriety for torturing Thamil suspects at the  CID office on 4th floor, and four other police officers were killed in the jungles  adjoining  Madhu church in Murungan.

 

On   April 25, 1978  for the first time  LTTE   issued  a statement  publicly claiming   responsibility for military operations from the days of New Thamil Tigers to LTTE  totaling   11 military operations. .

 

On   May 19, 1978  a “Law proscribing the  LTTE”  was passed by   the Sri Lanka Parliament. This law  gave very wide powers to the army to eliminate  LTTE cadres.

 

On    September 07,  1978  a “ New Constitution” was passed by the UNP government of J.R Jayawardene  which relegated Thamil language to  2nd place.

 

On December 05,  1978  Rs.12 lakhs was robbed from the government owned bank at Thirunelveli  after killing two policemen.

 

On July 20,  1979  J.R.’s  government passed the  Prevention of Terrorism Act to strengthen the previous  law which proscribed the  LTTE.  Under this law a person can be detained incommunicado for 18 months without trial or charges.

 

On the very same day of  the passage of the Prevention of Terrorist act, a state of Emergency was declared in the Northern province.   Immediately,  J.R. dispatched his nephew Brigadier (Bull)  Weeratunga to the North with instructions to “Destroy terrorism in all its form”  in six months, that is on or before December 31,  1979.

 

When the Sri Lankan government under J.R. intensified military oppression of Thamil people and launched a no-holes barred  war to destroy   the LTTE  completely;  Prabhakaran decided to strengthen  and expand both    military  and political activities to confront government’s counter insurgency plans.  Towards this end, he decided to suspend all military actions temporarily  during  1979 and 1980 and   concentrated all his attention  in strengthening  and expanding the Tiger organization.

 

 It was  during this period  he drafted a full-fledged  ‘revolutionary  political doctrine’  through  which he intended creating  an army of fighters who were  politically conscious.  During this period establishing LTTE branches  for the purpose of   forging friendly relations  with progressive movements  remained one of Prabhakaran’s  high priority.

 

On May 31, 1981  the Sinhala army and police together with UNP thugs set  the Jaffna  city on fire. They burnt to ashes  the Jaffna library considered one of  the best  in South Asia  that contained priceless collections of more than 94,000 books and rare manuscripts.

Library.jpg (9112 bytes)

                 

The Eelanadu newspaper publishing house was also burnt down.  The duo who spearheaded the  Thamil  cultural genocide   were  two senior cabinet  ministers  known for their chauvinism, Cyril Matthew and Gamini Dissanayake of  the UNP government. Gamini Dissanayake later became the leader of the opposition and UNP presidential candidate in the 1994 elections. He was killed in  a bomb  attack on October 24, 1994. 

 

At this stage, Prabhakaran wanted to make the Sinhala chauvinistic government to realise the fact  that  Thamils cannot be cow down through state terrorism and violence.  So he gave orders to his cadres  to mount  attacks against   government troops.  The  attacks  gradually became escalated in frequency and   intensity.

 

Jaffna Library            

 The First Attack  against  the  Sri Lankan Army

 

On October 15, 1981 the Tigers launched their first attack against the Sri Lankan army by attacking an  army truck which came along  K.K.S road in Jaffna town. Two soldiers were killed and  their arms  taken away by the LTTE.  In the history of the Liberation struggle of Thamil Eelam this was the first attack on the Sri Lankan army.

 

On July 02, 1982 four soldiers were killed and three  wounded in an attack that took place at  Nelliady. The dead soldiers’ arms and ammunitons were also taken away by the LTTE.

 

On September 29, 1982 the Tigers exploded  land mines  to cause    damage to  navy trucks  coming on  the Ponnalai causeway from Karainagar Naval base as a mark of protest to  J.R. Jayawardene’s visit to Jaffna for an election campaign.

 

On October 27, 1982  the Tigers attacked Chavakachcheri police station and killed 3 policemen and wounded three more.  During this successful attack Tigers  captured  a large quantity of   arms and ammunition. Following this attack many police stations in the North were closed and  police administration became thoroughly disorganized and paralyzed.

 

On February 18, 1983  two policemen attached to the  Point Pedro police station were shot  and killed.

 

On   March 4, 1983 the Tigers launched an attack on a convoy of army vehicles  at Umayalpuram near Paranthan and fought  face to face   with the army for an  hour.  In this encounter one armoured vehicle  was damaged and five soldiers were seriously wounded.

 

When the Government .Agent  of Jaffna wanted to convene a ‘security conference’ at the Jaffna Secretariat to discuss ways and means of  maintaining peace and security in the  Northern region, the LTTE to show  their opposition   to the Sri Lankan government bombed and blasted  the Jaffna secretariat building just one hour before the commencement  of the conference.

 

On May 18, 1983 the government decided to hold local government election  in the Northern province.  LTTE leader  Prabhakaran appealed to the people of Thamil Eelam to boycott this election.  He issued a clarion call  urging   all  Thamils to free themselves from the election mirage of the Sri Lankan government and   to reject  the government administrative machinery.  He further appealed to all the people  to rally around the armed struggle for freedom.

 

On April 23, 1983 as a  warning to all those Thamil traitors who were supporting  the Sinhala chauvinistic  government, three UNP supporters were shot dead by the Tigers. As a result of this military operation,  many  Thamil candidates who stood for elections on the  UNP . ticket   backed away and many more deserted  the UNP.

 

On May 18,  1983  on local government election day and  just an hour before closing of the poll, Tigers attacked  army and police personnel  who were guarding the election booth at Kantharmadam, Nallur and killed  one soldier and wounded  two policemen and  two soldiers.   The Tigers recovered a RPG  automatic rifle  from the dead soldier.

 

Rattled by the successful attacks on the armed forces by the LTTE,  J.R. Jayawardena’s  government gave full powers to the army to shoot down any suspected  freedom fighter ( in government parlance terrorist) at any place   and to  bury the dead without  postmortem examination or  judicial inquiry.

 

At midnight on 23rd July 1983, an  assault   group consisting of 14 Tigers, including Prabhakaran,  lay in ambush at Palaly road at  Thirunelveli.   The assault group’s command was given   to Lieut. Sellakkili by Prabhakaran.  When the army convoy arrived at the exact spot,  Tigers  commenced the attack by activating the  land mines. Thirteen  Sinhalese soldiers were killed in this attack besides capturing  some weapons.  Prabhakaran alone shot and killed  7 soldiers in this attack.

 

This attack shook  the Sinhala army establishment and they were thoroughly  shaken up. Exploiting the incident as an  excuse,   the Sinhala government,  which was waiting eagerly  for such an opportunity,  unleashed  racial riots throughout the island.  It was a well-planned pogrom  and thousands of Thamils were brutally murdered.   Thamil women  were raped.  The economic  base   of Thamils in Colombo  were totally destroyed. This genocide was carried out by  Sinhalese thugs ably aided and abetted by the army,  police, cabinet  Ministers, Members of Parliament and  yellow-robed Buddhist monks. 

 

Only after this holocaust,  the Thamils fully realized that they and their progeny can never live in peace and security  unless   they    free Thamil Eelam from the clutches of the Sri Lankan  terrorist state and   make it an independent political entity. This great awakening  galvanized ordinary people to join the freedom struggle.  Many young men and women fired by revolutionary fervour queued up to join the LTTE.

 

 

Chapter 3

 

Thamil Eelam War 1

(August 1984 - July 1987)

 

Jolted   by  the July 1983 pogrom that was engineered and executed by the Sri Lankan government against the Thamil people,  large number of young men and women joined the LTTE.  The  ranks of the LTTE swelled many-fold. Guerilla formations multiplied.  Under these conditions, Prabhakaran  with the objective of converting  these formations  into a uniformed revolutionary people's army  took steps to   expand  their  political and military activities.  So from July 1983 to February 1984, Prabhakaran  temporarily suspended all  military operations   and  instead drew up  mass training programs and expanded  both  political and military structures.

 

Thus the turning point in  Thamil Eelam   freedom struggle commenced with the genocide of July 1983.  During this  critical period Prabhakaran stood  like the eye of the storm  against all  odds,  proving himself equal  to all opposition. He easily emerged as the only great leader to take Thamil people’s liberation struggle successfully forward.

 

Intervention of India

 

During these years, the Indian government which was closely monitoring  developments in the island of Ceylon and the direction of the liberation struggle, especially the political and military maneuvers  of the LTTE leader Prabhakaran,  decided to intervene. Prime Minister Indra Gandhi decided to intervene on the basis of July 1983 pogrom against the Thamil people.

 

In July 1983,  the Indian government to advance its own  geo-political interests  in the Indian ocean,  decided to bring the island of Ceylon under its sphere of influence by  applying political and military pressure.

 

The Indian government  through  RAW  provided arms and training to the cadres belonging to the various militant  groups  fighting for the liberation of Thamil Eelam.  The Indian government  strategy  was to give  extra arms and money to some of the movements, so that it could  manipulate at will the military balance between them in such a way as to   bring  the LTTE and its leader,  who took an uncompromising stand on the question of Thamil Eelam liberation, under its control. If this was not possible then to destroy the LTTE completely.

 

Prabhakaran who was sharp enough to see  through the Indian government's machinations drew up his own plans. While accepting  Indian government offers of arms and training, he secretively and   without the knowledge of the Indian government and its spy agency RAW managed to induct supplies of arms and ammunitions necessary for a liberation war  into Thamil Eelam.

 

Military operations commenced  on 24th February 1984.  Under the leadership of Prabhakaran armed struggle in Thamil Eelam  became intensified.  Tiger formations launched  systematic and continuous  guerilla attacks on the army  and killed hundreds of soldiers.  The infuriated   army  in retaliation  attacked and killed   unarmed civilians. Yet the people of  Thamil Eelam in spite of the suffering were highly elated at the   unprecedented military feats of the Tigers under the leadership of Prabhakaran.

 

On   October 24, 1984  Prime Minister Indra Gandhi was killed by her own bodyguards. Rajiv Gandhi who was an air  pilot by profession   and  the eldest son of Indra Gandhi  was   appointed  Prime Minister of India.  He had no experience in politics and entertained  wrong notions about   the ethnic conflict raging in  Sri Lanka. He was ignorant of the  dynamics of the Thamil Eelam liberation struggle,  especially about understanding  Prabhakaran.   Right from the time of assuming office, he failed to appreciate the fact that  Thamils in Sri Lanka  suffered  oppression at the hands of the Sri Lankan  government  and they have been   denied even the basic rights as a people. Hence he started  acting favorably towards  the Sinhalese government and  in hostility   to the Thamil Eelam freedom struggle.  This attitude created  tensions   between the  Indian government and Prabhakaran, more precisely  between Rajiv Gandhi and Prabhakaran.

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Prabhakaran at the age of  31  married Mathivathani, an under-graduate  student of  the Jaffna University in 1984. She is from  Punkudutivu, an island situated  off the Jaffna peninsula. They have two sons and one daughter.    

 

Talks At Thimpu

 

Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi collected a coterie of ‘special advisors’ around him by-passing officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in dealing with  the island’s   ethnic problem. Especially,  he ignored A,P. Venkadeswaran,   foreign secretary  of India who was then forced to resign his office. Rajiv Gandhi’s antagonism towards Venkadeswaran might be due to  the fact he was a Thamil.  This led to a situation where Rajiv Gandhi’s  own whims and fancies became India’s official foreign policy.   Right from the beginning of 1985,  the Indian government  started applying undue                                                                                              Prabhakaran with Charles Anthony                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

pressure on the  LTTE  and  Prabhakaran to stop guerilla attacks against the army. It  arranged  a cease- fire between the Tigers and the Sinhala armed forces beginning 18th June 1985.  Under  Indian government mediation, negotiations  began at Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan.  All the Thamil liberation  groups-ranging from the moderate TULF to the LTTE -  jointly enunciated “four cardinal  principles”   that should form the basis on which  a solution to the Thamil  national problem should be found. The "four cardinal principles" better known as Thimpu principles in Thamil political discourse are:

 

It is our considered view that any meaningful solution to the Thamil national question must be based on the following four cardinal principles:

 

(1) recognition of the Thamils of Ceylon as a nation;

 

(2) recognition of the existence of an identified homeland for the Thamils in Ceylon;

 

(3)recognition of the right of self determination of the Thamil nation; and  

 

(4) recognition of the right to citizenship and the fundamental rights of all Thamils in Ceylon.

 

The   Sri Lankan Government headed by J. R. Jayawardene rejected these   proposals   in toto resulting in a stalemate in talks. In the meantime,  the Sinhalese army breached the cease-fire by killing more than 200 Thamil civilians in Trincomalee and Vavuniya. The talks then collapsed for good when  Thamil representatives withdrew. During this time  Prabhakaran was having consultation with his area commanders about the cease-fire,  the talks  taking place at Thimpu  and future plan of action.

 

Following the failure of the  talks  at Thimpu,   Anton   Balasingham,  political advisor to LTTE,   was  forcibly expelled from India by the Indian authorities.   This action brought about   deep cleavage and sharp  conflict between Prabhakaran and the Indian government.   Yet Prabhakaran  made clear  the  LTTE's stand towards India. He declared  "We need  India's goodwill and assistance. At the same  we do not   like India  imposing its decisions on the people of Thamil Eelam, against their wishes.  Our people have the inalienable right to decide about their own future."

 

But the Indian Prime Minister and the Indian government failed  to comprehend Prabhakaran’s commitment  and his determination  to  liberate  the  people of Thamil Eelam.  In October, 1986 the Indian government pressured the Thamil Nadu Chief minister to confiscate  LTTE’s  communication equipment.   The Thamil Nadu police arrested Prabhakaran and  other LTTE cadres,  took them to the police station  and  locked them up. They were  treated like ordinary criminals by the police.

 

Vow to Fast unto Death

 

In this situation,  there was a big question mark about Prabhakaran’s next move.  Contrary to everyone’s  expectation,   the youthful leader of the armed movement and the  terror of the Sinhalese armed forces, commenced  a fast unto death on  November 22, 1986. He said that he will not give up his fast unless and until the Thamil Nadu government hands back the communication equipment confiscated.  His fast unto death   caused shock   among all and sundry.  Having fully understood the firm determination of Prabhakaran, the Thamil Nadu  government gave in and returned back the equipment. Reciprocating the gesture of the Thamil Nadu government, notably its Chief Minister M.G.Ramachandran,  Prabhakaran ended his fast.  Later at a press conference  reporters  asked a barrage of questions about his fast.

 

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Reporter: " Since you have come out victorious in your non-violent campaign, why  can't you adopt the same method of warfare even in Sri Lanka?  What is the necessity for an armed struggle?"

 

Prabhakaran: "India is the only country in  history which gained its independence through non-violent means.    India understands the sacredness of non-violent struggle and hence victory for my  non-violent Satyagraha.  But Satyagraha will   not work in   racist Sri Lanka which is bereft of  any  humanism or sense of justice. Hence, we are fighting with arms in Thamil Eelam."

 

Bangalore Conference

 

When   Sri Lanka President J.R. Jayawardene came   to Bangalore to participate in the SAARC annual conference,  Prabhakaran who was in Thamil Nadu was taken there along with his political advisors  to hold talks with him.  Indian government informed Prabhakaran  about  President Jayawardene's  proposal to give the Northern province to the Thamils,  but divide Eastern province into three parts  among  Thamils, Muslims, and Sinhalese.

   Prabhakaran with MGR

Prabhakaran rejected this proposal  out of hand as completely unacceptable.  He asked “ When we are demanding the merger of North and East into one, how could we then accept the proposal to divide  two into four?”

 

It was at this Bangalore conference that  Jayawardene via  the Indian government made an offer to make Prabhakaran the Chief Minister of the Northern Province.

 

To  this offer  Prabhakaran gave a fitting reply  “This is a deceptive  and a dubious trap conceived  to exterminate the   Thamil race.  Chief Minister  is a puppet post which the   President could dismiss at his own  whim and fancy.  It is a post with no substantial powers in which you cannot   render any meaningful service to the people   at all.”  He rejected the offer out of hand  with the contempt it deserved.  

 

Returning to Thamil Eelam

 

Prabhakaran realised  that as long as he stayed  in India,   there is bound to be pressure brought on him by the central and state governments.  He can be even murdered in Delhi or Madras and thereby  bring  to an end the armed struggle for Thamil Eelam. On the whole he sensed a lurking danger to his life as long as he  continued to stay in Thamil Nadu. Convinced that only his return to Thamil Eelam  will help intensify  the armed struggle, he returned to Thamil Eelam on January 3, 1987.

 

While Prabhakran's  return  made  the Sri Lankan Government and the army panic-stricken,  confusion gripped the Indian Government and its intelligence outfit   RAW.  The Indian government evolved  a master plan to intervene militarily  in the war between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government. Towards this end India wanted to give  indirect military help to the Sri Lankan army to take on  the LTTE.  Simultaneously India wanted to pose off  as the “Saviour” of the  Thamil people from the genocidal attacks launched by the Sinhala army.

 

On   May 1, 1987, in his May Day address to the people of Thamil Eelam  Prabhakaran said,

 

“We have to  win our freedom through  armed struggle and   by shedding  of blood.  There is no other easy way or alternative left for us.  Either we perish as slaves or fight with arms and live as free people.  This is our political fate.  All of us make a firm resolve  on this  May Day. That is,  an independent  Thamil Eelam is the only solution and  the  ultimate solution  to our problem.  To secure this goal of an independent Thamil Eelam, let us all fight to the last   sacrificing our lives, limbs and souls.   Let this be our May Day  resolve and proclamation!”

 

 Direct Military Intervention of India in Thamil Eelam

 

On July 24, 1987, some Indian officials  met Prabhakaran in Jaffna and informed him that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi wants to meet  him and  talk to  him  on a very important subject.  So saying they   tried to fly him to Delhi  post-haste.

 

On the backdrop of this political turnaround,  Prabhakaran addressed a message  to the people of Thamil Eelam  which read as follows:  “I can assure you   that  today  the Thamils have chosen a leadership which can win for them their goal of Thamil Eelam.  I am fully  confident  that  I can carry out this tremendous responsibility vested on my shoulders by you truthfully,   sincerely and courageously.  I  do not believe any  ad hoc   solution will  solve our problem.   I am working hard to arrive at a  solution which  will guarantee  permanent peace,  bright and prosperous  future for all Thamils.  I  believe that   solution is an independent Thamil Eelam.  Today,  on an official invitation  extended by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi,  I am leaving Thamil Eelam for India.”

 

Thereafter, he left for Delhi  in an Indian army helicopter sent by the Government of India.  On the way Prabhakaran stopped at Madras and had talks with the Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran.  Nobody knew why he was invited to Delhi in such a mighty hurry.  When he and his advisors arrived in Delhi they were lodged at the Asoka Hotel.

 

In Delhi,  the Indian high Commissioner for  Sri Lanka J.N. Dixit ,  Foreign Ministry Secretary K.P.S.  Menon and  other officials  met Prabhakaran. They told him for the first time  about the proposed ‘Indo- Ceylon Agreement.’ The officials showed him a  copy of the draft agreement,  but took it  back immediately.   Prabhakaran  firmly  refused to  accept the draft agreement. Several attempts were made to coax Prabhakaran into falling in line,  but he stood his ground.  

 

Then they told him Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi wanted to see him and talk to him.   But  even after the lapse of  four days,  there was no rendezvous with the Prime Minister.  

 

J.N. Dixit, former High Commissioner and a key advisor to Rajiv Gandhi during these political developments has given a clear insight into the Indian mind-set  and the policy options discussed in the corridors of power in Delhi. In his book  Assignment Colombo  (, Konarak Publishers, 1998),  he reminisces candidly:

 

“My advice to him (Rajiv Gandhi) after the failure of our initiatives at the Bangalore SAARC summit was that India's purely  mediatory   efforts were not likely to succeed. I was of the view that India had to shift its role from that of a mediator to a  peace-maker and  the  guarantor of such peace if the crisis in Sri Lanka was to be resolved. It was also my considered opinion that the LTTE's insistence on the creation of a separate Thamil state in Sri Lanka, based  on ethnic, linguistic and religious considerations, would have far-reaching negative implications for India's unity and  territorial integrity too. The LTTE's clandestinely publicised objective of a Greater Eelam would have its impact notably on  India but the rest of South-East Asian countries with Thamil populations.

 

I was convinced that the LTTE's objective of creating a separate political entity, purely on the basis of language, ethnicity  and religion, would be a challenge to the plural multi-dimensional democratic identity of India as well as other similarly placed               countries in the region.  Having seen the LTTE in operations, both in the political and military fields, I also felt that, despite the legitimacy of the  Thamil aspirations articulated by it, the LTTE was essentially an authoritarian organisation that relied on violence to settle   all differences of opinion.

An example of the mindset of LTTE leadership is provided by a report about a journalist asking Prabhakaran some time during 1986 as to who were his role models in politics and military operations. First came Subhas Chandra Bose in all the power and majesty of his position as the supreme commander of the Indian National Army. prabhak2.jpg (5957 bytes)

The other name  Prabhakaran mentioned was the American actor Clint Eastwood in his personification as the hero who avenged injustice with ruthless violence. I cannot vouch for the total authenticity of this story for the simple reason that this was not said to me. But I am inclined to believe in the veracity of such a response by Prabhakaran, given his intense commitment to the Thamil cause and his personality as a militant leader. My suggestions to Rajiv Gandhi were based on these assessments.”

When they  found  Prabhakaran will not accept the agreement, the Indian government   immediately brought representatives of the other servile Thamil Groups  who were in Thamil Nadu to Delhi.   As to be  expected, these groups  without as much as batting an eye lid,   readily gave their consent to the agreement.  Then Rajiv Gandhi announced that everyone, barring  the LTTE leader Prabhakaran, have accepted the agreement.  Further he announced  that he was flying to Colombo to sign the agreement on July 29, 1987.

 

Only after these  developments Rajiv Gandhi met Prabhakaran.  Prabhakaran pointed out to him the many short- comings in the agreement.  Yet  the Indian officials told the  mass media that   Prabhakaran has given his consent to the agreement.  However, Prabhakaran issued a press  statement  denying  government’s claim.  In the mean time   ‘black cats’ commandos were posted to guard  the Asoka Hotel   where Prabhakaran was lodged.  It  tantamount  to a virtual house arrest  and  keeping the LTTE leader incommunicado.  

  

Indo - Sri Lankan Pact

 

Indo - Sri Lanka agreement was signed in Colombo by Rajiv Gandhi and J.R. Jayawardene  on July 29, 1987 without obtaining the consent of the LTTE leader and the  Thamil people. Displaying  sheer arrogance as Prime Minister of a regional superpower and stupidity as a politician,   Rajiv Gandhi  signed the agreement with  President J.R. Jayawardene, mainly to safeguard the geo-political interests of India.   This he did  after locking up Prabhakaran,  who was  leading the liberation struggle of the Thamils with the sole aim of  establishing an independent Thamil Eelam,  in a Delhi hotel. Rajiv Gandhi who returned to India after signing  the agreement  met Prabhakaran  and gave some assurances to him.  After receiving those assurances Prabhakaran returned to Thamil Eelam.

 

Suthumalai Declaration

 

LTTE leader Prabhakaran  explained clearly the political stand taken up by the LTTE about the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord  at a  historically important mammoth gathering of  several thousands of Thamils at Suthumalai.  In the presence of Indian Army personnel, newspaper reporters and the people of Thamil Eelam he explained   the LTTE position thus:

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“Today  we are handing over the arms  we took  for the liberation and emancipation of our  people  to the Indian  Government.  From  this very moment of surrendering  our arms we are also entrusting the safety of our people in the hands of the Indian government. “When the Indian government takes over the arms served as a shield  and  the only protection of our people, it is also  taking over the   great   responsibility to protect the  people of Thamil Eelam.  The  handing over of our   arms only   signifies this exchange  of responsibility.  At   this juncture if we do not surrender our arms, a very unfortunate situation will  arise whereby we will  be forced to clash with  the Indian  Army.  We do not want this unfortunate  situation to arise under  any circumstances. “ I                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Prabhakaran at Suthumalai

am fully convinced that  an independent   state of Thamil Eelam is the only permanent solution to the problems faced by  the Thamil people of Thamil Eelam.  I will continue the struggle politically for this goal of Thamil Eelam.  In the interest of     our   Thamil people,  circumstances   might compel  LTTE   to take part in the interim council or contest  elections.  But  I  will not participate in  any  election at any time.  I  want to announce this categorically here and now.”

 

After this, on the orders of  Prabhakaran,  LTTE cadres began  handing over their weapons to the Indian Army at Palaly Military Camp.

 

But   Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi failed to keep his promises he gave to Prabhakaran.  Instead he kept on procrastinating and skillfully inducted the  other Thamil traitor groups  based in India into Thamil Eelam  and directed  them to engage in anti -LTTE and anti-Thamil activities.  

 

The martydom of Thileepan

 

At this point of time,  Martyr Thileepan,   with the approval of Prabhakaran  decided to undertake a fast unto death to  expose   the  treacherous role  India   was playing  as the   supposed “Saviour” of the Thamil people.  This was also meant to be  the next  phase of the liberation struggle.

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On September 15, 1987 Thileepan (Rasaiah Paarthipan) who was the LTTE's political wing leader for the Jaffna district  commenced his fast over  the following demands from the Indian government. (The Indian army was in de facto control of the peninsula during this   time)

            1. All Thamils detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act should be released.  

 2. The colonisation of traditional  Thamil areas by Sinhalese  under the guise of rehabilitation  should be stopped forthwith.

         3. All such rehabilitation should be stopped until an interim government is formed.   

         

          4. The Sri Lankan government should stop opening new Police stations and camps in the Northeastern province.

         5. The Sri Lankan army and Police should withdraw from schools in Thamil villages   and the weapons given by the Sri Lankan                government to 'home guards' should  be withdrawn under the supervision of the Indian  army.

Citizen Committees, trade unions, students unions, teachers associations, religious leaders, all held meetings and discussed the issues relating to Thileepan's fast. They  passed resolutions and submitted memorandums to the overall commander of the IPKF, Lt. General Depinder Singh requesting the Indian authorities  to intervene and stop the fast and initiate immediate efforts to set up the interim administration in the Northeast.

 

But nothing moved fast enough to stop Thileepan’s martyrdom. The Indian government turned a blind eye. It  did not realize the gravity of the situation or the dire consequences that are bound to flow following Thileepan's death.  Thileepan attained martyrdom on the 26th of September 1987. There was widespread grief in the Northeast There can be little doubt that Thileepan's martyrdom had a profound effect on every Thamil soul in Sri Lanka. Thousands of people from the North and East poured into Yaazhpaanam as the news of his death spread like wild-fire.

Judged   by past events, everyone expected a violent reaction in the Northeast   following Thileepan's martyrdom, but to everybody's surprise the funeral turned into a peaceful day of mourning.  LTTE members moved in decisively to curb any kind of violence. They moved all state owned buses into depots and guarded them. They also provided cover to government institutions after some attempts were  made to set fire to them. The Thamil daily Eelamurasu as well as the TV Nitharsanam  carried the LTTE leader, Prabakharan's appeal to the people not to destroy or damage public property, as this was the property of  people of Thamil Eelam.

 

Black flags were seen everywhere - along roads,  top of houses, churches, temples, trees and  public buildings.  Thousands of wailing and sobbing men, women and children followed Thileepan's last journey. His  body was covered with the red flag of the Tigers.  Thileepan's body was taken on a decorated car through  villages for the people to pay their homage and last respects. It was finally taken to Suthumalai where it was kept for public viewing. Thileepan’s body parts were  donated to the medical faculty of Jaffna University according to his  last wish.

 

Thileepan's  martyrdom  brought profound sadness and deep sorrow and also fear among  many people. Most of them had genuinely believed that  India  would intervene at the last minute on humanitarian grounds  and stop the impending disaster. They began to have doubts about India's conduct. They began to say 'this could have been avoided'  and  'India should have moved fast' and 'India should not have let this happen' and so on. In short the people felt it was a great betrayal by ‘mother’  India. Thamil dailies began to carry articles criticising the handling of the whole issue by the Indian authorities.  

In a  statement released by LTTE leader Prabhakaran on the occasion of  Thileepan’s martyrdom, he said, inter alia

 

“The entire Thamil speaking people in the  North and East should rally round the LTTE in this non-violent struggle.  We can  achieve our goal of Thamil Eelam  only by the united and concerted effort  of the entire Thamil masses.  This is the only way  we can show  our  gratitude to Thileepan for his un-comparable sacrifice and martyrdom in pursuit of our cause.” 

 

Heroic Death of 12 Liberation Fighters

 

After the death of Thileepan,  Sri Lankan navy arrested 17 senior LTTE cadres,  including 2 senior commanders Pulendran and Kumarappa  off  Point Pedro coast. They were brought to the Palaly Army Camp and detained.   Prabhakaran registered a very strong protest against this unlawful and high-handed  action of the Sri Lankan  government  when there was a cease-fire and a general amnesty  in force. He urged Indian as well as the Sri Lankan governments to release the LTTE cadres immediately. 

 

In the meantime, the hawkish Minister for National Security Lalith Athulathmudali was insisting that all the arrested LTTE cadres to be brought to Colombo to face charges. He threatened to resign his cabinet portfolio if his demand  was  not complied with by President Jayawardene.  On account of  India’s betrayal,  12 out of the 17 liberation fighters committed suicide  by swallowing cyanide. Prabhakaran issued a soul -stirring and strongly worded  statement to the people of Thamil Eelam.  He asked:

 

“If the Indian government would have demanded the Sri Lankan President Jayawardene  to release all those  men who were  arrested , then  these unwarranted deaths would not have taken place. In this respect India has totally failed to honour its commitment,  exercise its authority and fulfill its moral responsibility  to protect the lives of the liberation fighters and the Thamil people. If India has forsaken this great moral responsibility, then there is no meaning in the Indian Peace Keeping force lingering in Thamil Eelam. Now we have to question their motive for remaining in our soil.  Are they staying here to protect President   Jayawardene,  the Sinhalese Army and treacherous  Thamil groups and help them to exterminate the liberation fighters of   LTTE? It  is an unpardonable crime indeed  that instead of protecting our fighters and leaders,  India was handing over them   to the Sinhalese Army.  By this treacherous act.  the  IPKF  has committed  an unpardonable  crime against the people of Thamil   Eelam.  Under these  circumstances we have decided not to  abide by the  cease-fire agreement!”

 

 (Continued in Part 11)