Sri Lanka’s Tamil areas on alert as LTTE commemorations planned

The three-decade-long armed struggle, which started in 1983, was ended by the island nation’s military by killing the leaders of the LTTE in 2009.

BySouth First Desk

Published May 15, 2024 | 1:28 PMUpdatedMay 15, 2024 | 1:28 PM

File image of LTTE bike platoon

Sri Lanka’s security forces were placed on alert in the northern and eastern regions to counter attempts to commemorate LTTE members killed in the group’s bitterly-fought conflict for a separate homeland for the minority Tamils, ahead of the anniversary of the long-drawn battle’s end.

Security forces received information about events being organised throughout the island nation’s Tamil-dominated North and East to commemorate the outlawed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to mark the 15th anniversary of its final battle.

The three-decade-long armed struggle, which started in 1983, was ended by the island nation’s military by killing the leaders of the LTTE in 2009.

Although the military decided against deploying troops, a special task force of the military and the police would keep a close eye on the possible LTTE commemorations from Wednesday, 15 May to 20 May.

Security forces said that the distribution of pro-LTTE literature was seen at several commemorative events. At some events, calls were also made for the revival of the LTTE, which is under proscription internationally, including in India.

Police have said that any group trying to commemorate the LTTE would be arrested.

Also Read: Nalini & other Rajiv Gandhi killers contributed to LTTE’s decay

To commemorate the deaths

However, Tamil political and rights groups say the events planned are to commemorate their kith and kin, who died in the long-drawn-out conflict since the mid-1970s.

In Mullaitivu— the scene of the final battle— the main commemorative event is to take place at the beachfront in Vellamullivaikkal.

In Tamil-dominated Jaffna, university and civil groups began the ‘Mullivaikkal week’ on 11 May. Blood donation campaigns are being held in the memory of the fallen.

Porridge was distributed to mark the once-a-day serving civilians received when they were trapped in Mullaitivu when the final battles raged between the LTTE and the government troops.

Police arrested four people, including three women, in the eastern town of Sampur for violating a court order banning the LTTE commemorations, it said on Tuesday.

The LTTE ran a parallel administration in parts of the northern and eastern regions until May 2009.

The armed conflict officially came to an end on 19 May, 2003, when LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabakaran’s body was found in the lagoon of the northeastern region of Mullaivaikkal.

Also Read: LTTE ban extended for 5 more years: MHA

MHA extends LTTE ban

The Indian government on Tuesday, 14 May, extended the ban imposed on the LTTE by five more years for fostering a separatist tendency amongst the masses and enhancing the support base for it in the country, particularly in Tamil Nadu, besides threatening the territorial integrity of India.

The Union Home Ministry imposed the ban invoking the sub-sections (1) and (3) of section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

In a notification, the Home Ministry noted that the LTTE is an association based in Sri Lanka but has supporters, sympathisers and agents in the territory of India. The central government believes that the LTTE is still indulging in activities which are prejudicial to the integrity and security of the country.

It said that even after its military defeat in May 2009 in Sri Lanka, the LTTE has not abandoned the concept of ‘Eelam’ (an independent country for Tamils) and has been clandestinely working towards the ‘Eelam’ cause by undertaking fundraising and propaganda activities and the remnant LTTE leaders or cadres have also initiated efforts to regroup the scattered activists and resurrect the outfit locally and internationally.

“The pro-LTTE groups/elements continue to foster a separatist tendency amongst the masses and enhance the support base for LTTE in India and particularly in Tamil Nadu, which will ultimately have a strong disintegrating influence over the territorial integrity of India,” the notification said.

(With PTI inputs)