News Features


Velupillai Pirabhakaran









By Wilson Gnanadass
The Eelam war IV, is likely to permanently seal the fate of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are pushed against the wall as the war is restricted to small patch.
According to the military, the Tigers are confined to the remaining 58 square kilometers of land space, which is yet controlled by the Tigers. Pressure is mounting from the international community for both the government and the LTTE to hammer out a settlement.

However, the government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa is determined to defeat the LTTE militarily.
One wonders what is in store for the LTTE after they are defeated. At present, the Tigers have not given up their struggle to counter the thrust of the government Forces, in whatever possible way.

Though astrologers have predicted that LTTE leader Velupillai Pirabhakaran has left the country, intelligence reports strongly indicate that he is still present – and intact, and heavily engaged in fighting the government forces along with the remaining Tigers.

As the fierce battle between the Armed Forces and the LTTE is fast reducing the territories held by the LTTE, the public obviously would be interested to know the details of the number of hardcore LTTE cadres who are still loyal to LTTE chief Pirabhakaran and fighting the war.

The LTTE chief is still supported by his loyal lieutenants who wittingly or unwittingly joined the outfit some years ago. Except for the breakaway that occurred in 2004 by Karuna Amman, there has not been any record of similar occurrence in the past.

In the Tiger history it is only Karuna who has had the gumption to secede from the LTTE, and is also the only one to have survived so far, unhurt. Others who have made similar attempts had been executed by Pirabhakaran himself. There has not been any room for mutiny in the LTTE in the past.

With the territory held by the Tiger rebels is fast shrinking following the ongoing onslaught by the government Forces, it is believed that all the top LTTE cadres are also trapped within the 58 square kilometers of land space in the Mullaitivu district.

Birth of militants

The armed struggle of the Tamils in the north first sparked off in 1970. This was following the failure of the moderate Tamil political party leaders, to provide a concrete answer to the many injustices caused to the Tamil minority by the successive governments.

The political structure of the Tamil United Front (TUF), founded on a conservative ideology, could not provide the answer to the youths who demanded a remedy.

It became very clear to the Tamil youth that the Tamil national leaders, though they championed the cause of the Tamils, had failed to formulate any concrete practical programme of political action to liberate the oppressed Tamils.
The inability to make any offer to the Tamil youth prompted the youths in turn to take it upon themselves the responsibility to fight for their cause.

It is the Tamil Student Federation (TSF), which was formed in 1970, that encouraged student activists to take up the militant path. Thereafter, the TSF organised massive student protests against the government’s discriminatory educational policy of ‘standardisation,’ and organised various seminars and conferences, thereby providing the ideal platform to voice their protest.

By this time the disenchanted young militants had resolved to launch violent campaigns individually, and as groups. As a result, violence flared in the form of political assassinations, bombings, shootings, arson against government property and raids on state banks.

The government Security Forces, counter attacked extreme violence by arresting those involved in the arson. The Police started to raid the offices of the TSF, and arrested the leaders, including the TSF’s chairman Sathiyalseelan.

Subjected to intolerable torture, the leaders of the TSF confessed the names of important militant activists who were engaged in the series of political violence that rocked the very foundation of the north. Faced with the threat of a Police hunt, most of the notorious militant activists went underground.

Among them was a young boy of 16, who was passionately committed to the cause of the freedom struggle, and who became a hunted and most wanted fugitive.

He was none other than Velupillai Pirabhakaran who now heads the LTTE.
Since then, Sri Lanka has witnessed the struggle led by the LTTE, with a clear demand for a separate state.

Trapped cadres

While the media, both local and international have spoken much about the trapped civilians and their plight in the north, very little is mentioned about the trapped LTTE cadres who are fighting, perhaps their last battle, before they are either caught alive or annihilated. It is very unlikely that they would surrender to the government Forces.

The Nation, in the pure interest of the public will today give out some details of the trapped LTTE cadres and their back ground, as most of the cadres loyal to Pirabhakaran, and fighting the battle in the jungles of the north, are more or less the last remnants of the LTTE, as explained by UPFA Parliamentarian Karuna Amman.

It is no secret that the LTTE which used to be once a powerful force, has now been reduced to such a few numbers, that even a head count at present might be possible.

According to the available information with the local media, it is learnt that Pirabhakaran is determined to fight the last battle with a selected number of his loyalists.
The Nation learns that an estimated 13 hardcore Tigers are still with Pirabhakaran, and are engaged in the present conflict. Most of the well trained cadres have either been executed by the LTTE leadership, or have lost their lives during different military operations with the government Forces, over a period of time.

The last remaining Tigers
  •  Pirabhakaran:  Velupillai Pirabhakaran was born on November 26, 1954, in Valvettiturai, a northern coastal town in the Jaffna Peninsula. Historically, Valvettiturai is known for its adventurous seafarers and daring smuggling exploits. The place is also famous for militant resistance.
    Pirabhakaran is the last child of Vallipuram Parvathy and her husband Thiruvenkadam Velupillai. He has two sisters and a brother. His father was a government civil servant working as a District Land Officer. Pirabhakaran fell in love with Madhivadani, a Jaffna university undergraduate and married her in 1986. The marriage took place in Madras. He is a father of two.
  •  Col. Bhanu (Special Commander):  Bhanu is a resident of Ariyalai, Jaffna and was born in 1964. He joined the movement in 1983. He has studied up to the GCE Ordinary Level. He is one of the cadres who was given military training in India, along with Karuna and other senior cadres.
    He was also a member of the first batch of 360 cadres who were sent to India for an extensive military training course. This batch of 360 was broken into three small batches, and Bhanu was in the second batch, while Karuna was in the third batch.
    He was based in Madurai during his training period. He is married with three children. Upon his arrival from India after his training, he was closely working with the LTTE area commander for Mannar called Victor.
    During the Jayasikuru operation which was led by Karuna, he was appointed as Karuna’s deputy, and was in charge of the mortar unit -120. There were two units, namely the mortar unit and the artillery unit in the LTTE. The mortar unit was handled by Bhanu. He continues to be loyal to Pirabhakaran, and still remains in the jungles. Before joining the movement he was an employee attached to the Kankesanthurai cement factory.
  •  Jeyam (Special Commander):  He is a resident of Pavatkulam Vavuniya and was born in 1965. He too obtained extensive training in India in 1983. He was in the third batch with Karuna, but was loyal to the former LTTE deputy leader Mahatya, who was later executed by Pirabhakaran. After Mahatya was arrested, Jeyam was also tortured and was to be executed along with Mahatya.
    According to information, his nails had all been removed during the period he was under torture. But he was not among the 17 cadres branded as Mahatya loyalists, who were killed along with Mahatya. On a directive issued by Pirabhakaran, Mahatya and the rest were killed by Pottu Amman. Jeyam became popular after he obtained a pardon from Pirabhakaran, following a letter he personally wrote to Pirabhakaran.
    The letter written by Jeyam was so moving and apologetic, that it immediately changed Pirabhakaran’s mind. This change of heart gave Jeyam a second chance to live. Thereafter he decided to give up the armed struggle, but could not do so due to pressure. He then ran to Trincomalee for safety. But during the Jayasikuru operation, he was picked up by Karuna and was used in the operation. The Jayasikuru operation was led from the LTTE side by Karuna, who is a Member of Parliament today.
    Jeyam is married with two children. He has also studied only up to the Ordinary Level. He is one cadre who is said to have the highest knowledge of the entire terrain of the north and east.
  •  Kapil Amman (Deputy Intelligence Leader):  He is a native of Trincomalee and was given training in India.
    However he was not fortunate to obtain training from the Indian military experts like his seniors. He was from the fourth batch that went to India for training. The first three batches were the ones who obtained extensive training from the Indian experts.
    Cadres who went thereafter, were given training by the LTTE seniors themselves who were based in India. He worked with Santhosam Master in Trincomalee. He is not described as a fighter, but has from the inception, he worked in the Intelligence Unit of the LTTE.
    He has also studied only up to the Ordinary Level. He is married with two children.
  •  Soosai (Commander, Sea Tigers):  He is wanted by the Interpol. He has also lost his sea base during the ongoing conflict. He is a native of Vadamarachchi like Pirabhakaran, and was born in 1962.
    He too obtained training in India with Bhanu. He is originally from a fisher family, but is a capable and energetic sea fighter. He became very popular within the movement after he started to smuggle various things from India.
    He became a confidante of Pirabhakaran because he was a native of Vadamarachchi. The creation of the Sea Tigers was the result of the daring acts of Soosai in smuggling things through the various sea routes. This was how he became the head of the Sea Tiger unit. He is not a ground fighter, but he shows his ability only in the sea.
    During the IPKF operation in the north, he was caught in an ambush and was injured. He, at present is not able to walk properly due to his injury. He has also been punished several times by Pirabhakaran for his involvement with various women, but has been pardoned because he is a native of the Tiger leader’s native birth place-Vadamarachchi.
    He too has studied only up to the Ordinary Level. He is married with three children.
  •  Pottu Amman (Commander, Black Tigers):  He too is wanted by the Interpol. A warrant has also been issued by the Sri Lanka and the Indian courts, over the assassination of the late Indian Premier Rajiv Gandhi.
    He too obtained his training in India, in the second batch of cadres to be trained. He is a native of Ariyalai in Jaffna. During the IPKF presence in the north, he ran away to India without the knowledge of Pirabhakaran, and returned only after the complete withdrawal of the IPKF.
    As a punishment, he was later sent to the east to serve in Batticaloa for one year. During this time he was kept under special observation under the leadership of Karuna. He has been used by Pirabhakaran to execute LTTE cadres who defied his orders.
    He married a woman in Batticaloa and is the father of three – two boys and one girl. He also suffers from an acute back ache and is not fit for ground battle.
  •  Ratnam Master (Special Commander):  He is one of the junior members of the LTTE. He is not a ground fighter but is used for intelligence work. He is assigned to look into the monitoring of the intelligence reports the LTTE receives from various sources.
    He obtained the title ‘Master’ after he was appointed to instruct physical training to the LTTE cadres. He is a native of Jaffna. He was also in charge of the physical training units of the Imbram and Pandiyan regiments of the LTTE.
    The two regiments have been named after two of Pirabhakaran loyalists who lost their lives in an operation. Ratnam Master was originally Pirabhakaran’s body guard.
  •  Theepan (Special Commander):  He is a native of Vattakkatchi in Jaffna and is believed to be the brightest of the cadres. He was born in 1965 and has completed his Advanced Level. He was a science student from a leading college in Jaffna.
    He was trained by the former LTTE deputy leader Mahatya. He is generally rated as number one in defensive battle. He was also appointed as the second in command by Karuna, during the Jayasikuru operation against the Sri Lanka Forces. He is married but has no children.
  •  Sornam (Special Commander):  He is a native of Trincomalee and was originally Pirabhakaran’s body guard. He was born in 1962. He also obtained his initial military training in India. He was a member of the third batch that was sent to India for training.
    After Mahatya’s execution, he was also subjected to torture and various other punishments. But later became very loyal to his master.
    He is married with three children. His mother is a native of Jaffna while his father is from the east. He has also studied up to the Ordinary Level.
    Though not recognised as a ground fighter, he is supposed to be having a good leadership quality and is capable of being a commander.
  •  Ramesh (Special Commander):  He is a native of the east. He was born in Arasadi Thivu in Batticaloa in 1963, and was educated at Shivananda College in Kallady, Batticaloa. He has studied up to the Advanced Level. Though not categorised as a good fighter, he is known for his administrative skills.
    He is capable of handling logistics and preparing reports. He is also good at conducting researches. He has not been working in close association with the LTTE leader, but has been loyal to the former eastern commander Karuna.
    After Karuna broke away from the LTTE, he went to the north to join the LTTE leader. He is married with two children. His wife is originally from Mutur in Trincomalee.
  •  P. Nadesan (Political Wing Leader):  He was originally a Police Constable (PC) attached to the Sri Lanka Police. He is a native of Vadamarachchi and studied in Jaffna.
    During his service in Jaffna he passed on some important information about the Police station to the LTTE Jaffna commander Kittu. And this piece of information was helpful for the LTTE to successfully overrun the Jaffna Police station later on. He was subsequently absorbed into the LTTE.
    He was also the first head of the Police unit of the LTTE and succeeded Tamil Selvan after he was killed, as the head of the political wing of the LTTE.
    He was sent to India, not for any military training, but to work in the military office of the LTTE in India.
    He is married with three children. His wife is a Sinhalese woman from the South.
  •  Thurga (Head of the Sothiya Women’s Brigade):  There are two women’s brigades in the LTTE, both named after two women fighters who had died. One of them was Sothiya. Thurga is the head of this unit.
    She was born in 1971 and is a native of Waligamam in Jaffna. She was trained by Karuna. She was also injured during the Jayasikuru operation and became partially disabled.
    She was originally a body guard of Pirabhakaran, and has studied up to the Advanced Level. Unmarried, she is brave and competitive.
  •  Vithusha (Head of the Malathi Brigade): The other women’s brigade in the LTTE is the Malathi brigade, also named after Malathi – a woman fighter.
    Vithusha was born in 1969 and is from Chavakachcheri. She was also an active member during the Jayasikuru operation under Karuna. She received her training locally and remains unmarried.
  •  Illango (Head of the political press department):  Illango is a native of Jaffna. He donated one of his kidneys to the LTTE theoretician Dr. Anton Balasingham, when the latter suffered a severe kidney failure.
    Illango has also spent a number of years abroad. He is not categorised as a hardcore fighter.

Those missing

Following are details of a few other senior LTTE cadres who are no longer seen and believed dead:

  •  Daya Master  who has been a close friend of the local and international media, is said to have been silenced due to his overt intimacy with the Southern based media personnel.
  •  Illentheriyan  alias Marshall has also been reportedly silenced. According to a website he has also allegedly been executed due to his links with the Southern journalists.
    Marshall, a native of the east, was also a musician. He was a product of St. Michael’s college Batticaloa. Married with two children.

The names of these cadres who have been killed in the war will go down in the history of their struggle for a separate state, martyrs or heroes. But the question is whether their personal sacrifice has served the purpose of the struggle they took upon themselves. We, as a nation, will have to wait and see.