The visit by Law and Order Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara, his Deputy, Nalin Bandara Jayamaha and Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundare to the North to defuse the “Pro-LTTE mindset” in the region, as reported by the Daily Mirror on Wednesday is an admission of a resurgence of such a mindset there by the Government.
In fact, there seems to be within the Tamil community a surge in incidents favourable to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the outfit that ruled the roost in the region a decade ago.
It cannot be considered that the situation is the result of the Tamil people in the north (and also in the east to some extent) having started to realise some truth they had never realized before. It is a situation where people are again giving vent to their mind that had been hard suppressed for the past several years, due to the horrific manner in which the war ended and to the frustration to some extent over the actions of the LTTE itself.
There was a time in the wake of the end of the war when northern people did not dare to utter a word that would even resemble something favourable to the LTTE or to their struggle in public.
Also with the difficulty to rebuild the lives of the former rebels as well as the ordinary people in the former war-torn areas, the frustration would automatically demand a deviation from the writ of the establishment
Venturing out to commemorate the members of the LTTE, who were killed in the war was then unimaginable. Everything, the Government, the people have so changed over the years that the Maveerar Naal (the Great Heroes Day), a day assigned by the LTTE to commemorate their dead cadres, was held for the first time in public in the north on November 27, 2016.
The commemorations by the northern Tamil people of the LTTE cadres killed in the war had until recently been camouflaged with an argument that it was their loved ones killed in the war that the people were commemorating.
Yet, they were remembered on November 27 and May 18, two days significant to the vanquished Tigers.
But for the first time after the war, the Black Tiger Day was commemorated in the north and east on July 5, this year in public.
Students of the Jaffna University and interestingly the former LTTE cadres in Vakarai, Batticaloa had two events of remembrance.
Black Tiger Day is a Day that the LTTE during its heyday commemorated its first Black Tiger Vallipuram Vasanthan alias Captain Miller who crashed an explosive-laden truck into the Nelliyadi Central College in Jaffna where a temporary army camp had been installed, in 1987.
Despite the oaths taken by the Jaffna Municipal Council members against espousing separatism, the Council last month adopted a motion to renovate two monuments dedicated to two former prominent Jaffna Commanders of the LTTE Thileepan and Kittu.
The move indicates a misconception that the Pro-LTTE mindset is a new phenomenon. This might be fodder for the attempt by the Mahinda Rajapaksa loyalists to portray that the soft approach by the Government had given rise to a comeback by the dreaded Tigers
Thileepan created history in 1987 by his 12-day fast in Nallur over five demands, which culminated in his death. Sathasivam Krishnakumar alias Kittu is a one-time international spokesman of the outfit, who killed himself by exploding the ship in which he was transporting weapons near Chennai.
And finally, former Child Affairs State Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran came out on July 4 shaking off all camouflages with a statement made openly and without leaving any room for ambiguities that the Tamil people were craving for a comeback of the LTTE.
It may be a slip of the tongue as later Maheshwaran said that what she meant was that the security by women and children had been assured, when the LTTE was active.
However, many Tamil leaders who came to her rescue in the light of the uproar in the south against her statement endorsed her statement apparently with a wider perspective.
Despite her regret implied during her telephone conversation with Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake, posters had sprung in Jaffna glorifying her as a national leader. She seemed to draw sympathy from almost the entire Tamil community indicating a heightened existence of what the Daily Mirror news item termed the “Pro-LTTE mindset.”
Coupled with the recent capture of a cache of war material, while being transported in a three-wheeler on the Puthukudiyiruppu-Oddusuddan Road on June 22 this year, the Government seems to have taken the situation seriously, prompting the dispatch of the highest level fact-finding mission.
It was learnt that an LTTE operative from France named Kamalanathan Sadheeshkumar, who had arrived in India had sent a five-member cell to Trincomalee for the elimination of Traitors..
However, the move also indicates a misconception that the “Pro-LTTE mindset” in the north is a new phenomenon. This might be fodder for the attempt by the Mahinda Rajapaksa loyalists to portray that the soft approach by the present Government had given rise to a comeback by the dreaded Tigers.
But it was not the case. Apart from politicians glorifying and venerating the Tiger leader in public during the 2013 Northern Provincial Council election, three attempts – two in 2012 and one in 2014 - to revive the LTTE had been made by former guerillas, with the financial support of the Tamil Diaspora.
The first revival attempt came to light with a killing of a member of the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) led by the then Minister Douglas Devananda on March 17, 2012, at Periyakulam in the Trincomalee District. A handwritten note saying “Death to traitors” and a small LTTE flag with its emblem had been placed by the side.
It was learnt that an LTTE operative from France named Kamalanathan Sadheeshkumar, who had arrived in India had sent a five-member cell to Trincomalee for the elimination of “Traitors.” The excessively hard crackdown by the State saw that LTTE revival project going awry.
The second revival attempt was detected in December 2012. The interrogation of an un-rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadre in Colombo in December 2012 resulted in a disturbing discovery.
Details of an organized LTTE network operating in Chennai, Tamil Nadu with funds from LTTE elements in Europe had come to light during investigations.
Sri Lankan officials conveyed this information to Indian authorities subsequent to which several arrests were made by the Tamil Nadu Q Branch Police in the State.
The third revival attempt was spearheaded by Suntharalingam Gajatheeban alias Theiveegan, Navaratnam Navaneethan alias Appan and Ponniah Selvanayagam Kajeepan alias Gobi, who were killed during a skirmish following a massive security cordon involving around 3,000 soldiers in Vedivaithakallu jungles in the Vavuniya District in April 2014.
This was the first and the last battle with Tiger remnants that had taken place after the guns were silenced in May 2009. The then government informed the details of the incident to the UNHRC as well.
The recent upsurge in “Pro-LTTE mindset” is not a sudden spring of events or apprehensions. Rather this indicates only a heightened point of a gradual transformation of the northern mindset. The widened democratic space brought in after the Yahapalana Government assumed office too seems to have been used for the free expression of Pro-Tiger mindset.
The LTTE had been closer to the hearts of the Tamil people than what the Government had been, before the end of the war between the Tigers and the Security forces.
Yet, people were forced to suppress their own mind for the past several years. With the gradual fading away of the horrific memories of the last days of the war, the memories of loyalty to the rebels are also proportionately emerging to the surface.
Also with the difficulty to rebuild the lives of the former rebels as well as the ordinary people in the former war torn areas, the frustration seems to automatically demand a deviation from the writ of the establishment.
The demands for the release of the detainees taken in under the PTA, lands occupied by the security forces during the war and the failure on the part of the former and present Governments to convince the people as to what happened to the people gone missing during the war keeps the frustration alive.
Meanwhile, the race among the Tamil politicians for power also pushes themselves to play the Tiger card with one attempting to outsmart the other in glorifying the LTTE.
“The Pro-LTTE mindset is a complicated issue for any Government to handle. Yet, the emotional send-off recently given by Kilinochchi area residents and rehabilitated former LTTE cadres to former Civil Security Department’s (CSD) Commanding Officer in Mullaithivu, Kilinochchi and Jaffna, Colonel Rathnapriya Bandu after he was transferred from Vanni speaks volumes about the modalities of defusing “Pro-LTTE mindset” and reconciliation.