LTTE — a ruthless militant organisation Press Trust of India Sunday, April 05, 2009, (Colombo)

6 04 2009

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which lost its last bastion of Pudukudiriyirippu to Sri Lankan forces on Sunday, gave a new dimension to militancy in the world by using suicide bombers and other guerilla attacks to maintain their struggle for a separate Tamil Eelam.

LTTE, led by Velupillai Prabhakaran — a school dropout from the secret jungles of Wanni in northern Sri Lanka for the past 30 years, has been accused of killing many Sri Lankan Sinhalese and Tamil leaders and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Starting as a liberation movement in the late 1970s to attain freedom for “oppressed” Tamils from the clutches of Sri Lankans, the LTTE later evolved as a ruthless organisation for whom violence became a legitimate tool to eliminate political opponents.

In its struggle for a separate Tamil homeland, 54-year-old Prabhakaran introduced suicide bombers, mostly young women, and targeted major government installations, including military headquarters and the lone international airport in Sri Lanka.

Prabhakaran founded the LTTE in the late 1970s and was first named as an accused in the murder of the mayor of Jaffna, the administrative headquarters of the Tamil Tigers’.

During the 1980s and early 90s, the organisation was also accused of committing terror acts in Tamil Nadu where it liquidated its militant rivals.

The LTTE is the only terrorist outfit in the world to have three armed forces wings — Tigers (ground), Sea Tigers (Navy) and Air Tigers — (Air Force).

Black Tigers, the suicide wing of LTTE, came into prominence when the Tigers’ launched their first suicide attack against a Sri Lankan Army camp killing 40 soldiers.

The LTTE became the first organisation in the world to employ women as soldiers in the battlefield.

Tamil Tigers and Prabhakaran, who were given refuge in Tamil Nadu under the then Central governments’ policy, lost sympathy in India after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi during campaigning in the state for the 1991 Lok Sabha polls.

It is alleged that Prabhakaran wanted to avenge the Indian prime minister’s decision in 1987 to deploy Indian peacekeeping force troops in Sri Lanka.

The Tamil Tigers are also blamed for the murder of the then Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa and a number of audacious attacks on the Sri Lankan Army installations.

The outfit has also earned the ire of human rights groups who allege that the LTTE recruits young children to fight against the Army.

LTTE, which is believed to be funded by Tamils living in Europe and other countries across the world, agreed for a ceasefire with Sri Lanka in 2002. But both sides continued to violate the Norway-brokered agreement which until it was formally abrogated by the Mahinda Rajapakse government.

Prabhakaran and the LTTE received a major blow when his confidant Colonel Karuna parted ways and formed his own outfit. However, he later converted as an opponent of the Tamil movement and is now serving as an MP.

Though his followers consider him as a freedom fighter struggling for Tamil emancipation from Sinhala oppression, various nations, including India, have banned his organisation and branded him as a terrorist.

The loss of Pudukudiriyirippu has confined the Tiger rebels to a 20 square km area marked as a ‘no-fire’ zone in northeastern Sri Lanka.

In January this year, the LTTE lost their de-facto capital of Kilinochchi in one of the biggest blows in 25 years of running battles, before being thrown out of another major stronghold Mullaittivu.