The decision to write down the victorious war (2005-2009) in annals of history is a very insightful move. Ancestors kept many historical accounts of how repeated South Indian (mainly Tamil) invasions were repulsed. Heroic accounts of ancestors are detailed and descriptive. They help boost confidence in a military solution to similar problems. All such attempts had military, not political solutions. In addition to confidence boosting, they also point to potent military strategies to be followed.
However, there are matters that would evade any meticulous attempt to document history, especially in modern times. Due to political pressure, international relations and humanitarian considerations, certain vital information will be omitted from these documents. They may be quirks or results of superhuman intelligence, but their contribution to the final outcome of the war was immense. If these events didn’t take place, the war would not have been won.
Internal disputes of the LTTE
Disputes between TELO, LTTE and TULF in 1984 costed their friendship and a large number of lives of Tamil nationalists – political and military. LTTE and TELO blamed each other for the deaths of TULF politicians and started fighting each other. Tamil-Muslim disagreements starting from 1984 and culminating in 1990 also made matters better.
Internal disputes of Tamil Tigers spilled over a number of times most significantly after 2004 following the defection of their eastern commander. Wide spread killings took place. Casualties were both military and political. Joseph Pararajasingham, a well known LTTE sympathiser and TNA MP was trying to reconcile the LTTE and TMVP. He was killed by the dispute itself which he tried to resolve. His elimination saved heaps of worry in defence matters. Until then, the sudden demise of pro-LTTE politicians was unheard of. This new trend was immensely beneficial to Lanka. This dispute between two Tiger factions extended to the killing of many more TNA and connected MPs including Raviraj, Srinivasan and Maheswaran. In addition, pro-LTTE Sivaram also fell prey to LTTE internal disputes. His absence was a blessing as LTTE lost its most effective propagandist and geopolitical expert. They were the strongest stalwarts of LTTE-Tamil civilian unity. Their timely demise did wonders in the war.
A countless number of LTTE middle level commanders mysteriously died. LTTE blamed the mythical DPU for these.
The aim of documenting these events is not to find explanations. Explanations are not needed. What is needed is an understanding of how these events shaped the outcome of the war. These outcomes must be achieved in future military necessities one way or the other. Documenting these events certainly sheds light on what the outcomes needed to achieve the end objective.
There were events that peculiarly fitted in very well into sending a strong signal to the LTTE to stop attacking civilians. For instance Tamil terrorists bombed the army commander Sarath Fonseka on 25 April, 2006. Within hours SLAF bombers were in action after a break of 5 years since 2001. Was it a mere quirk these jets targeted Tigers immediately after the LTTE’s act of terror? Or was it a clever retaliatory move? It doesn’t matter. What matters is the outcome. As far as the LTTE was concerned, what their thick brains would grasp is an unexplained causal connection which creates deterrence against further attacks. If they do, they will live to pay the price.
Strange events took place following LTTE attacks on civilians in the south. In order to put the blame on security forces, LTTE mirrored these attacks in Vanni targeting Tamil civilians. What matters is not an explanation but the outcome of this unexpected activity. Vanni population for the first time experience terror – what the south was experiencing. This created a mass hysteria and suspicion of the LTTE leading to mass defection. Vanni people forced the LTTE not to endanger their lives by carrying out terrorist attacks in any part of the island.
Similar events took place after many large scale terrorist attacks. For instance after LTTE killed 103 Muslims in Kathankudy in 1990, replicated these killings in a Tamil village killing over 200 Tamil civilians. Having done so, LTTE put the blame on security forces and Muslims. However, as a result of these violent acts, even the LTTE was fearful of carrying out further attacks on civilians.
War starting in Vadukodai and ending in Mulaitivu creates a national security threat
Not everything went well for the nation though. There is a clear difference in those who instigated, commandeered and agitated for the war and those who actually suffered. The war was envisioned, instigated and engineered by high caste Tamils from the Jaffna peninsular. However, Jaffna experienced war only for a very short time from 1983 to 1987 and 1990 to 1995. All in all, only 9 years out of 33 years (just 27%) did the Jaffna crowd suffered from direct war.
Casualties wise their suffering was even less.
However, low caste Tamils from Vanni and the east faced the brunt of war. War reached its climax in Vanni and ended in Mulaitivu. Most Tamils who died were unaware of what they were fighting for. Poverty, cohesion, threats and violence forced them to fight and die.
This disparity has created a lasting threat to the security of the nation. Since those who envisioned and engineered the war didn’t suffer as much as other Tamils suffered, the former group still insists on war, confrontation and Tamil Elam. They certainly didn’t learn the lesson as they were relatively unaffected.
That’s not all; this group gobbles all the benefits of peace leaving nothing to low caste Tamils. As a result low caste Tamils continue to live under these high caste Tamils in relative poverty and a relative lower social class. This creates the same conditions that led them to take up weapons!
In summary, the disparity between those who engineered the war and those who suffered has retained the conditions that caused the war.
A future confrontation must take into account this disparity and resolve it. Those who envision and engineer the war must be made to suffer most. Until they learn this lesson, they will continue to agitate for Tamil Elam (the root cause of war).
Indian interference saved the LTTE in the late 1970s when its leaders escaped to south India; in early 1983 when army assaults put their lives in danger and in 1986 and 1987 when the Indian government physically bailed out LTTE leaders. Despite the Gandhi killing, India continued to support the LTTE and did everything it could to disrupt Sri Lanka. At the restart of the war India threatened Lanka to buy all weapons only from India and not to approach Pakistan or China. This threat was disregarded. India also warned against deploying effective Chinese radars in the north by the navy. Once again it was disregarded. Indian agents bombing the convoy of the Pakistani High Commissioner didn’t derail cooperation with Pakistan. MK Narayanan’s only visit to Lanka was dominated by mix ups including his motorcade. He had to be dispatched in a taxi! Although it was a mix up, he didn’t take any further chances with his life by his unwelcomed visits.
India insisted on a political solution and to resume talks with Tigers. Due to disagreements within parliament, nothing happened in the front of political solutions. Had the political process commenced, LTTE would have found a vital breathing space and a lifeline. Political solutions stopped the war in 1985, 1987, 1989-90, 1994-95, 2000 and 2003-05. LTTE was destined to face the longest nonstop phase of war from 2006 to 2009. It didn’t have the luxury of a ceasefire to regroup, rearm or introduce new weapons to its arsenal.
Another Indian attempt was to interfere in elections through its pawns. India was sufficiently convinced its favourite dove of peace would win the election against the hawk from the other camp in 2005. However, Nirupama Rao miscalculated.
South Indian politicians freely visited LTTE bunkers. It is not possible India didn’t know their whereabouts! India knew their whereabouts very well but opted not to take any action. Demerging the north and the east was another matter that disrupted the Indian plan and angered the LTTE. It was no accident. It was a clever move. It convinced the LTTE that the 13 amendment would not even come close to the Tamil homeland demand. A breakaway cadre becoming the Chief Minister was far too much for both India and the LTTE.
Certain vital events that shaped the war are not subject to detailed discussion or documentation. However, it was these events that determined the outcome of the war. If not for these, the war would have ended in stalemate as in Vietnam or Afghanistan. What matters is not to find explanations but to appreciate the outcome and working towards achieving similar outcomes in future. Although the war was won, the demand for Tamil Elam is not over. It resurfaces from the same place it was born. War strategies and concentration failed to punish those who envisioned and engineered the war. It only punished the cannon fodder. Lanka seems to have given up on security measures after winning the war. Now it is fast becoming the destination of 1 million dollar drug consignments from Tamil Nadu; a playground of NGOs; a safe haven for Tamil nationalists; a remote controlled toy of India; a paradise for all anti-national elements and other vile elements. Keeping these vile elements on their toes, terrorised, is a dire need to save the peace. It needs no superhuman intelligence to understand the need to nip these in the bud using whatever means that work and less costly. Otherwise it will be the same story again and again.