Mullaitivu: Remnants of Tiger Terrorism
After the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 19 May 2009, I longed to visit Mullaitivu though I visited Sri Lanka two to three times after April 2010, I was unable to make that visit.
Every time I visited Sri Lanka, something or other unexpectedly used to crop up and I was engaged with meetings, interviews and invitations for lunch or otherwise dinners and I was forced to skip the Mullaitivu visit.
Anyhow, at last, I managed to visit Mullaitivu. It was in December 2011, I visited Mullaitivu and I was met by Mr. S. Kanagaratnam, President’s Coordinator for the Mullaitivu district, to guide me to the spots where remnants of Tiger Terrorism are located.
At this point of time, I must clearly state that right from the beginning I opposed all forms of violence and terror and because of that I earned the wrath of Prabhakaran and his outfit - Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Due to my non-violent approach, I was on the run and was forced to take all sorts of precautionary measures to safeguard me and my family.
The final battle between the Sri Lankan security forces and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ultimately ended with the victory to Sri Lanka and Prabhakaran, his wife (Mathivathani) his two sons (Charles Anthony and Balachandran) and daughter (Dwaraka) were killed in the war.
At the end of the war more than three hundred thousand Tamils ended up as Internally Displaced Persons and were in the IDP Camps in Cheddikulam. Once the land mines were cleared the Internally Displaced Persons were resettled in their own places of residence, except for a balance of 5,000 persons to be resettled soon, most probably before the end of this year.
The Internally Displaced Persons- majority of them were those who came to Vanni by December 1995, after the fall of the Jaffna district to the Government forces.
It is important to recall that it was on 10 December 1995, Sri Lankan Army defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Jaffna and wrested the control of almost whole of the Jaffna District. The Sri Lankan military has captured control over the Tiger’s stronghold of Jaffna.
The retreating LTTE urged the civilians especially those from the Valikamam region to leave their homes and flee and threatened that the Sri Lankan Army was on a mopping up operation and would be dangerous if civilians got caught in the hands of Sri Lankan Army.
Around 250,000 civilians fled the area by December 1995, and out of that lot who fled, about 25, 000 went to Vadamaradchchy and another 25,000 to Thenmaradchchy and the balance to Vanni. Reports revealed that nearly 10,000 who went and settled down in Vanni returned to Jaffna after 2002 to 2006 taking advantage of the Peace agreement between the Tigers and the Sri Lanka Government. Also nearly another 10,000 went to the South.
I learnt that whoever fled their homes after the capture of Jaffna by Sri Lankan Security Forces, they were stopped by the LTTE gunmen while fleeing and demanded to pay money. I was told that those who fled out of panic had to cough up nearly Rs 5,000 or more to the LTTE for their family’s safety .
Right through out, LTTE fleeced the Tamils with all sorts of levies and taxes and the people paid them as they have to survive at any cost.
After nearly 30 years, I went to Chunnakam where I had my house. When I went to my house, suddenly I developed a severe pain in my chest as I suddenly felt that 30 years of my life have gone in a jiffy and I stood before my dilapidated house with a heavy heart and tears.
For nearly thirty years I was on the run to safeguard myself and my family. But at last, I am here in my house like a phoenix bird rising out of the ruins and rubbles and my house which has been destroyed by all those who occupied it in our absence, without my knowledge and permission. A house which I built with my two hands in 1982 - is there stood before me without tiles missing bits and pieces in the roof, windows, window frames, doors and door frames missing.
Before going to my home in Chunnakam, I went to Mullaitivu to see for myself what amount of damages Prabhalkaran - the so called failed political and military leader had done to the Tamils and to Vanni.
I went to Vanni with my wife and friends in a motor-van from Colombo. We reached Mullaitivu in the morning and we were met by Mr. S. Kanagaratnam who took me and my party to his house in Mulliyawalai.
After taking a bath - after long long years, by drawing water from the well and we had our breakfast, then we began our program of visiting the remnant sites of Tiger terrorism that still remains in Mullaitivu.
First thing we did was that all of us went to worship at the Vattapalai Amman Temple-in the last thirty years, that was the first time my wife and I went to a kovil for worshipping.
After worshipping, along with Mr. Kanagaratnam I visited the Armed Forces Service Headquarters located at Koppapulavu.
We met the Mullaitivu Security Forces Commander Major General B. Mark to obtain permission to visit the restricted areas in the district.
Major General Mark received me well. I introduced myself as the Editor of Asian Tribune and he said that he was pleased to receive me, my wife and my party and we were served with tea at his office. In the meantime he instructed his officers to inform all the Army Sentry points about our arrival and also the number of the vehicle we were travelling. He also gave his cell number and told me if there is any problem to contact him.
In the beginning we decided to see the wreck of MV Farah III, the Jordanian ship anchored at East Mullivaikkal. On 23 December 2006, MV Farah III, Jordanian cargo ship carrying 14,000 tons of Indian rice, developed engine trouble 17 miles off the coast of Mullaittivu.
Sea Tigers of LTTE went in six boats and intercepted the vessel, scared the ship’s crew by firing and boarded the vessel. Forcibly detached the anchor and the vessel ran aground close to one nautical mile off the coast at Mullaittivu and robbed the entire cargo of 14 tons of rice
25-member ship’s crew was detained by the Sea Tigers and later handed over to ICRC on December 25 at Kilinochchi.
LTTE removed radio communications, navigational equipment including radar and generators from the vessel for their operations.
To Be Continued
- Asian Tribune -