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The rise of the L.T.T.E. PDF Print E-mail
In early 1985, the P.L.O.T.E., L.T.T.E. and T.E.L.O. were considered fairly evenly balanced. At the time when 7 L.T.T.E. men were killed in a quarrel with the P.L.O.T.E. at Chullipuram, the L.T.T.E. preferred discretion to valour. When quarrels developed between the L.T.T.E. and the T.E.L.O., neither seldom did anything more than go out on motor bikes and take pot shots at "sentry boys" in the rival group. These sentry boys, who were youngsters with no military training and in their early teens, were usually deployed with hand grenades to throw and run if the alarm had to be raised. In reprisal for the killing by the Sri Lankan forces of 70 civilians in Valvettithurai and the damage to the homes of Prabhakaran and several other L.T.T.E. leaders, the L.T.T.E. on 14 May 1985 conducted what came to be known as the Anuradhapura massacre. A few L.T.T.E. men drove into Anuradhapura and gunned down about 150 persons with ruthless efficiency and got away. In the ancient Sinhalese capital, the government forces were caught off guard. This gave the L.T.T.E. the reputation of being an efficient "killer machine," that was to be both feared and respected. The many who approved of the Anuradhapura massacre little realised that such readiness to play around with lives of Sinhalese would result in making Tamil lives more insecure.

However, around January 1986, it was a general belief among Tamils that no single group could proceed alone against the might of the Sri Lankan army. Attempts by the Sri Lankan Army in early 1986 on an L.T.T.E. camp at Suthumalai and a subsequent thrust into Tellipallai, were repulsed by all the groups acting together, including the T.E.A.. The T.E.L.O. provided critical help in saving the day when troops landed by helicopter and attacked the L.T.T.E.'s camp at Suthumalai. This was publicly acknowledged by the L.T.T.E.. It had been rumoured for some time that the "Das faction" of the T.E.L.O. in Vadamaratchi had some differences with the leader Sri Sabaratnam. Das was an able military man -- and this faction was said to form the military backbone of the T.E.L.O.. The L.T.T.E.'s opportunity came when in April 1986 the Bobby faction of the T.E.L.O. treacherously shot dead Das and 4 of his colleagues. They were shot dead while visiting a colleague in the Jaffna Hospital. This resulted in the Das faction leaving the T.E.L.O. and going into exile, considerably weakening the T.E.L.O.. Towards the end of the month the T.E.L.O. moved several of its men outside Jaffna, ostensibly for operations against the Sri Lankan army. At the same time the L.T.T.E. moved many of its men into Jaffna and the word was put out that it was going to attack one of the Sri Lankan encampments. A crucial advantage possessed by the L.T.T.E. was a modern communications system with wireless sets. The L.T.T.E. took on the T.E.L.O. at the end of that month. The pretext was a minor tiff arising from both groups calling a hartal for the men they had lost at sea, about the same time. After one week of fighting the L.T.T.E. was supreme in Jaffna. The T.E.L.O. leader Sri Sabaratnam was killed on 7 May. The methods used by the L.T.T.E. were reminiscent of the shock tactics used against Sinhalese -- during the Anuradhapura massacre. In a way the Anuradhapura massacre had come home and the ghosts of the dead were to haunt us for years to come.

The manner in which the T.E.L.O. members were killed, shocked Tamil people everywhere. Many died without knowing what hit them. Twelve were killed near Manipay while they were asleep. Several were caught unawares, shot and burnt at junctions at Thirunelvely, Mallakam, and Tellipallai. Eight persons were killed at the camp behind the St. John's principal's bungalow. One person was thrust into a car, which was then exploded, leaving severed limbs strewn around. On hearing this the St. John's College principal, Mr. Gunaseelan, who was in hospital, had a relapse which forced him into an early retirement. Many of the T.E.L.O. members who were from areas outside Jaffna had to flee in fear without knowing the streets or where they were going. The people were so terrified, that few found the courage to give shelter to the fugitives. While this unprecedented display was on, people stood mutely at junctions and watched, as persons hardly dead, were doused and burnt. Hardly anyone protested, which is understandable. Some went home saying things such as: "We have produced our own Hitlers." Others gave a display of that opportunism that had become a characteristic feature of Jaffna. Some shop keepers offered aerated waters to those who had exhausted themselves putting on the show. Some students at the University attempted to take out a procession to stop the fighting but had to abandon it. The fighting was over in less than a week and Sri Sabaratnam was killed in circumstances which are not clear. Most sources agree that he was wounded in the shoot out, while his two companions escaped. Sri Sabaratnam then stood up and requested an opportunity to talk to Kittu, the Jaffna L.T.T.E. leader. He was then gunned down. Whether he was killed personally by Kittu and whether the order to kill him came from Prabhakaran himself, or from Kittu, are matters on which the various reports disagree. All this time the Sri Lankan army had remained quiet except for a bit of helicopter firing here and there. Outsiders saw the L.T.T.E.-T.E.L.O. clash as fatally weakening the militant cause. Kautiliya, a columnist for the Sunday Island asked satirically whether the L.T.T.E. had taken a sub-contract with the Ministry for National Security to take on the T.E.L.O..

Subsequently the L.T.T.E. launched a propaganda campaign where two reasons were given for its action: 1.The T.E.L.O. were a group of criminals who had harassed the people and had robbed them. and 2. The T.E.L.O. was acting as the agent of Indian imperialism.

To substantiate these accusations, the L.T.T.E. announced that all recovered stolen items, jewellery, electrical goods and cars were being returned. In fact several cars taken over and used by the T.E.L.O. and allegedly stolen television sets and video-recorders were put on display near Windsor Theatre and were claimed by members of the public. But little or no jewellery was returned. However the jewellery robbed from Thurkai Amman Kovil [2] 1 at Tellipallai mysteriously reappeared and the wrath of the god was averted. Most people came to terms with what had happened and thought it was good. The first reason given by the L.T.T.E. had a strong influence in Jaffna town. The E.P.R.L.F. too returned several television sets and vehicles saying they were no longer needed. Several people who wanted the E.P.R.L.F. to keep these things found themselves left with no choice but to accept them. Amongst the E.N.L.F. partners only the E.P.R.L.F. found the courage to organise a protest rally for the killing of Sri Sabaratnam and the betrayal of the alliance. The E.R.O.S. remained quiet and began to be patted on the back by the L.T.T.E. as a good organisation, suitable for those who were not good enough for the L.T.T.E.. The press and the Church too came to terms with the new dispensation. The Roman Catholic Church under Bishop Deogupillai, who had been an outspoken critic of Sri Lankan army action did not use its strong base and its moral authority to protest against the fatal trend of cowardice and moral torpor within the Tamil community. The Morning Star, the journal of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India (C.S.I.) commented editorially in a piece under the title, The Merry Month of May, that it had been held that the militant cause had been weakened by what had happened. It went on to allude that this was not necessarily the case as was proved by the militants' success in repulsing the subsequent Sri Lankan offensive. Moreover it said that the people had stood shoulder to shoulder with the militants during the subsequent bombing of Jaffna. The Jaffna man was a very wise man who made a virtue of following the path of least resistance. That the path had to change direction frequently was of no consequence.

Claims have been made by the apologists for the action against the T.E.L.O. that India had ordered the T.E.L.O. to destroy the L.T.T.E., thus giving the L.T.T.E. no choice. The reason given for such an order, it is said, is that the L.T.T.E. refused to toe India's line. Even assuming that India had expressed such a wish, whether the T.E.L.O. took it seriously is another matter. Granting a certain amount of cockiness on the T.E.L.O.'s part, it is hard for an observer then in Jaffna to believe that they had seriously entertained such an ambition for the near future. They were disorganised and divided as well as lacking in a communication network. Looking at the circumstances and Sri Sabaratnam's remarks at Kalviankadu, it does not appear that the T.E.L.O. was looking for a clash. It has also been mentioned that the T.E.L.O. had at that time moved a large number of trained men out of Jaffna while the L.T.T.E. did the opposite amidst rumours that they were to take on a Sri Lankan army encampment.

A significant circumstance was a serious division within the T.E.L.O. made worse a month earlier by killing by the Bobby faction of 5 leading members of the Das faction. A similar circumstance minus the assassinations was to precede the L.T.T.E.'s taking on the E.P.R.L.F., 7 months later - namely, the split arising from differences between Padmanabha, the E.P.R.L.F.'s political leader and Douglas Devananda, the leader of its military wing.

A short time after the L.T.T.E.-T.E.L.O. incident, an E.P.R.L.F. leader told a leading citizen that his leadership had asked the L.T.T.E. leadership what they really wanted and to state the terms on which they could work together. He further added that no reply had been forthcoming.

On the question of India, most Tamils had unreal expectations of altruism on India's part, while they revelled in thinking how smart they were in using India to get Eelam. They knew the nature of Indian politics and thought they could manipulate it for their ends. The two aspects of altruism and baseness that governed the Tamil man's perception of India corresponded to the sentimental and the real. Equally, talk of any militant group being independent of India was meaningless after the initial surrender in exchange for arms, training, base facilities and recognition. This would be sharpened later after September 1987 by the L.T.T.E.'s successive contradictory positions involving considerable amnesia. The real sufferers would be the Tamil people. The thought that India could have interests, legitimate as big power politics goes, weighed little on people's minds.

Following the L.T.T.E.-T.E.L.O. clash, the L.T.T.E. understood the feelings of ordinary people. Loudspeaker vehicles went about telling people not to talk about or analyse what had happened. This was the first publicly announced act of censorship. Previously the L.T.T.E. and the T.E.L.O. especially had visited newspapers to tell them not to write about certain incidents.

About 20 May, 1986, the Sri Lankan government launched a limited offensive to test the strength of the militant movement after the excision of the T.E.L.O.. The column that advanced from Elephant Pass turned back at Pallai. One group broke out of the Jaffna Fort and established a beach-head at Mandaitivu, providing a safe means of supplying troops at Jaffna Fort, for, helicopters landing inside the fort were subject to fire from nearby. The Sri Lankan army also succeeded in widening the perimeters of its camps at Thondamanaru and Valvettithurai. Until May the question amongst civilians was, when would the militants make an attempt on one of the army camps. The question now was when would the Sri Lankan army make an all out attempt to recapture Jaffna. It was well understood that the L.T.T.E. would make a formidable foe.

An aspect of L.T.T.E. dominance that made it acceptable to the general public was that robberies virtually ceased. The poor and the middle classes were left alone. The L.T.T.E. made mutually beneficial arrangements with wholesale merchants and big businessmen to the satisfaction of the latter. They could now enjoy their profits without the nuisance of being occasionally kidnapped for ransom. Before May 1986, if a man allegedly committed a fraud, the first militant group to discover it would descend on him, most likely in the night, to carry out an investigation. Occasionally, the victim would be lamp-posted (shot after being tied to an lamp post), or would be let off after negotiating an appropriate fee. After May 1986, several goods, aerated waters and cigarettes went up in price. In the best of times petrol sold at Rs. 19 per litre as against Rs. 13.50 per litre south of Vavuniya. Huge profits were made by dealers. Transport bottlenecks in a way proved a blessing to many peasants and labourers who were thrown out of work by the war. Many turned to transporting petrol to Jaffna on a small scale by bicycles and selling it by the bottle on the roadside. In this at least, the Sinhalese and Tamils on the border of the Northern province co-operated for their mutual prosperity. Another example of how the Jaffna economy worked was given by a head teacher from Chavakachcheri. Soon after the commencement of Operation Liberation on 26 May 1987, refugees from Vadamaratchi flooded into Thenmaratchi and the demand for rice was great. The normal price of a bag was Rs. 230/. A mill owner who had a very large quantity of rice paid Rs. 50,000 tax money and sold his stock at the rate of Rs. 400 per bag, making an astronomical profit.

It was now expected that the L.T.T.E. would soon make a bid for sole dominance. Only the E.P.R.L.F. (Eelam Peoples' Revolutionary Liberation Front) seemed to be in a mood to challenge the L.T.T.E.. The E.R.O.S. (Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students) and the T.E.A. accepted L.T.T.E.'s dominance. The E.R.O.S. was a much smaller group which one time acquired for itself in the popular mind a reputation for intelligence and discipline. But its allegiance to Marxism was more doubtful, together with its concern for Sinhalese civilians. The talk of some of its leadership and its ranks gave the impression that it appealed to gut feelings of narrow nationalism. Its killing of Mr. Kathiramalai, a Sarvodaya worker, left strong doubts about its commitment to fairplay.

The middle of 1986 saw a series of sensational bombings carried out in the South. The main incidents were the explosion which destroyed an Airlanka Tristar passenger airliner which was being loaded for take-off at the Katunayake airport; the explosion in the C.T.O. (Central Telecommunications Office) building in the heart of Colombo Fort; the explosion at the Elephant House aerated water factory; and the explosion at the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (C.P.C.) depot at Anuradhapura. The civilian dead numbered several tens. Like the Anuradhapura massacre it was an adoption by the oppressed of the methods of the oppressor, and hence also the disease of the oppressor. The explosion at the C.P.C. depot at Anuradhapura also represented a move away from impersonal terror. An explosive charge was placed inside a petrol bowser from the Puloly Multipurpose Cooperative Stores (M.P.C.S.) that had gone to collect fuel from Anuradhapura. Several bowsers from Jaffna were in the petrol queue. It was reported that two persons who went in the bowser were amongst those killed. It was widely claimed in the international media that the parties responsible for these bombings were connected with the L.T.T.E., or the E.R.O.S. or both. The T.E.A. was also mentioned because of its association with the bomb meant for the Airlanka flight, which exploded instead at the Madras, Meenambakam airport in 1984.

No group claimed responsibility for these attacks. But according to Tamil sources living abroad, responsibility was claimed privately by senior persons in a militant group that ostensibly valued above all, intelligence, research and scholarship. There were also explosions in public transport buses carrying mainly Sinhalese passengers near Vavuniya. Two of the victims were an elderly Sinhalese gentleman and his son, who had been unswerving in their hospitality towards Tamil public transport workers.

Besides blurring in the minds abroad of the distinction between terror by the Sri Lankan state and that by Tamil militant groups, another consequence of this incident was to make petroleum fuels, aerated waters and gas more expensive and scarce in Jaffna.

It has been said by many that such acts against the Sinhalese population made the Sinhalese think seriously about the Tamil problem. It did make them think, but only in a perverse sort of way. One could see, for instance in editorials, the pressure mounting for peace talks when terror is seen as being too close for comfort. Equally, there was pressure for a final military thrust, during transient spells of seeming military successes, such as during Operation Liberation. This made the whole affair a destructive game involving extensive media manipulation in the absence of any change of heart and any democratic resurgence.

For the time being, life in Jaffna was relatively peaceful, barring occasional shelling by the Sri Lankan army. The L.T.T.E. concentrated on bringing all key institutions under its control. The Citizens' Committees caused no problems. Except at the University, this operation needed neither force nor intimidation. The L.T.T.E. was subtle and discerning in this matter. In the hospitals and in the administration, doctors and officials were left with enough discretion to protect their self respect. Dissent from individuals was tolerated provided this was not articulated through mass movements or other militant groups. An attempt at an L.T.T.E. sponsored Journalists' Union through some journalists who had come over to its side foundered, because the majority of the journalists found it too hard to swallow. The pretext given by the L.T.T.E. for summoning a meeting of journalists was that it was concerned that journalists in Jaffna were not being paid the salaries stipulated by the government in a gazette notification. The editor of the Uthayan, together with others, spoke to the effect: "The question of salaries is a matter for the journalists themselves, and not for a militant organisation. No one is going to control what we think or write." These brave words however, were not reflected in practice. Everyone knew that he would be a brave man to go beyond certain limits. The Eelanadu management dismissed a journalist, whose presence it apparently thought was embarrassing under the new dispensation. (This journalist, Mr. Shanmugalingam, has not been seen after being abducted by the L.T.T.E. on 6 November, 1989.) The L.T.T.E. went ahead with organising rural courts, vigilante committees and bodies such as cultural and development committees. The L.T.T.E. was privately cynical and disrespectful of persons who served on these bodies. A top L.T.T.E. leader once asked an old friend and senior journalist: "Those who were with us in the days when the going was dangerous and we were hounded by the Sri Lankan forces now refuse to touch us with a broomstick. But those who are joining us in large numbers now are persons whom we would have once classed as anti-social elements. Why is this?" The friend replied: "You should have no difficulty in finding out yourself."

The population of Jaffna fell in line. People who had once shown the spirit to resist the oppression of the Sri Lankan state now enjoyed the peace of the animals in George Orwell's Animal Farm. People would now get about unconcerned if a neighbour mysteriously taken away then disappeared. Some who were not prepared to do this were students of the University of Jaffna. In the circumstances they acted bravely during the Vijitharan and Rajaharan affairs. It is a comforting thought that the idealism of youth cannot be quelled.

The two incidents took place in quick succession around early November 1986 and gave rise to what became the last mass protest in Jaffna against the violation of basic freedoms. It did not, like the mass protests against the Prevention of Terrorism Act in the early 1980's, exude a sense of buoyancy and forward movement. This was more a rearguard action. When it ended, many of its leaders had to go into hiding or seek exile. Many of the leaders and hundreds of ordinary women from the lower reaches of society had displayed rare courage in doing something that was both essential and at the same time was shirked by their so called betters. The two incidents concerned had independent origins.

Arunagirinathan Vijitharan was a third year commerce student from the University of Jaffna who was generally unknown until he was missing from his boarding house on 4 November 1986. The question was, why Vijitharan? He was by all accounts an ordinary fun loving student with no political affiliations. It was this aspect of it that left some doubts about the cause. Had he said something mildly offensive to a person of some importance as students are wont to do? One may never know.

An action committee was formed by the students. They did not accuse anyone. They simply maintained that the four functioning militant groups were responsible for the security of persons in Jaffna. Further, they had sentries everywhere, making it unlikely that persons could disappear without their knowledge. The militant groups were called upon to do their acknowledged duty and restore Vijitharan. Privately, the students admitted that they were afraid and were in no mood to confront any militant group. A senior University official who was talking to the militant groups on the matter, expressed the feeling that the students had acted too hastily in making the matter public. On the other hand, the students felt that if they kept quiet, the chances of students disappearing one by one was greater. Not having received a satisfying response, the students commenced a campaign of fasting on 19 November in which six persons, both boys and girls began a fast in a temporary cadjan shed in front of the administration block.

For the next ten days the University became the centre of attraction for all those who had been suppressing their feelings about what was going on. An important group of people who joined the students were residents, especially women, from Passaiyoor. That had to do with a separate incident, concerning the death of Edward.

Passaiyoor is a fishing village three miles East along the coast from Jaffna town. These people were Roman Catholics and were by nature spontaneous in their collective response to perceived aggression against them. Edward had returned from Saudi Arabia and the family was said to be sympathetic towards the L.T.T.E.. They had consulted the parish priest on the matter of a land dispute with a neighbour, and not being satisfied, had invited Malaravan, the Ariyalai leader of the L.T.T.E.. During the hearing, Edward's mother reportedly said something offensive to Malaravan, who in turn is said to have raised his hand against her. Edward then slapped Malaravan. Edward was later asked to call at the Ariyalai camp for an inquiry. Fearing what may happen, Edward contacted the parish priest. The latter went to the camp and got an assurance that Edward would be released after a short inquiry and that no harm would befall him. The parish priest accompanied Edward to the camp and waited. Edward was taken in. Twenty minutes later the priest was told that Edward was dead. The priest fainted and was admitted to hospital. Those who went to see the body said that hardly a bone was left unbroken. Then things took a turn that was unusual for Jaffna. A large group of women gathered at the local church and protested for several days, displaying hand written posters. The middle-class based women's organisations, including the Mothers' Front, had lost their voice in the face of internal oppression.

The university students went out and addressed students from the higher forms in schools, who in turn came out and joined by sitting on roads and joining processions. An element of irony was added to the proceedings when the L.T.T.E. leader V. Prabhakaran commenced a Gandhi style fast in Madras when the Indian police confiscated his arms and communications equipment. A non-violent protest was on for the return of instruments of violence. Rival processions for the student cause and Prabhakaran's cause sometimes crossed each other.

At this point many diverse opinions came to be expressed, most of them agreeing that the students should give up their fast. Some felt that the students were excellently performing a very necessary task; but the community did not deserve the deaths of those who were fasting. If they died, six prospective leaders would be lost while people would shrug their shoulders and go on as before. Then little would be achieved. Many were hostile. They thought that the Tamils were being divided in the face of the main enemy, the Sri Lankan state, when they should be uniting behind the L.T.T.E.. Students were made heart broken and angry by an opinion expressed by a member of the staff who said that the students were making an absurd issue over one missing person when several L.T.T.E. men were dying fighting the Sri Lankan army. They were dismayed that such persons could not see the issues at stake and that one could in time come to mean hundreds. Besides, passive acquiescence by the community in such developments during a fight for freedom, would lead to its opposite, thus negating all sacrifice, including the militants' sacrifice.

The Jaffna press played it diplomatically by giving equal prominence to statements by all parties. The E.P.R.L.F. backed the students. The E.R.O.S. characteristically sat on the fence. The students were painfully aware that their protest could become interpreted as anti-L.T.T.E. and backed by rival militant groups who did not wish to confront the L.T.T.E. directly. A speech delivered by an E.P.R.L.F. leader at the university, the contents of which did not receive prior approval from the students, gave further room for this impression.

Two of the student leaders were former members of the P.L.O.T.E. and the E.P.R.L.F.. However, available information strongly suggests that they were not principally anti-L.T.T.E., but had rather become disillusioned with the anti-democratic militarism of all the groups, now enjoying Indian patronage. There was strong pressure on the students to give up the protest, and the L.T.T.E. too was embarrassed by it. But the problem was how to end it. A mutually acceptable formula had to be found. Even admirers of the protest felt that it had gone on long enough and that no further purpose would be served by its prolongation. A number of persons and organisations came to patch up a settlement, including the University Teachers' Association (U.T.A.). Some wanted to do some good. Others had reasons which were more complex.

The L.T.T.E.'s conduct was puzzling. They could have in the first instance said that they sympathised with the students and would make every effort to trace Vijitharan. Then there would have been no protest. But they took an aggressive line. School children who joined the protests were threatened by leading L.T.T.E. men at both Mahajana College, Tellipallai, and near Jaffna Hindu College. In the latter instance a student's name was singled out. The U.T.A. invited Kittu for a meeting in the Senior Common Room, where he was introduced as "our General." The session was marked by the silence of the staff, making one wonder why the meeting was called. Kittu took the line that if a militant group had abducted Vijitharan, they are not going to admit it amidst all this protest. He may be released, he said, far away at some distant time. He also made the point that traitors like Selvabala cannot be given amnesty on the grounds that they were students or on any other pretext. He was referring to a student from the Jaffna College Technical Institute who was said by the L.T.T.E. to have been armed and paid by the Sri Lankan army to assassinate Kittu and other key L.T.T.E. leaders. Selvabala was killed after he made a Singapore style T.V. confession on the L.T.T.E.'s station Niedharshanam.

Eventually a formula for ending the fast was reached. The L.T.T.E. gave a pledge to look for Vijitharan. Like many of the tales of intrigue, the truth about Vijitharan may not surface for years to come. For the University students, it ended for the time being their role in public affairs. With all their weaknesses and drawbacks, their role had been a noble one. They had been forced into tasks where others more mature and experienced than they ought to have given the lead. For the Tamil people, another light had gone out. Vimaleswaran, the student leader who led the protest fast, paid a heavy price for his defiance of the new order. He was assassinated in July, 1988.

The natural defiance of the women from the lower classes remained a remarkable feature as opposed to the pliability of upper class women. Village women in the East went out with rice pounders to stop the internecine fighting during the L.T.T.E.-T.E.L.O. clash. When the L.T.T.E. took on the E.P.R.L.F. on 14 December 1986, women from some low class villages in Jaffna near Keerimalai and Mallakam defied the L.T.T.E. by sitting on the roads armed with kitchen knives and chillie powder. The same women were to prove a nightmare to the Indians when they arrived. After October 1987 some of these women in the Pt. Pedro fish market decided that they would charge the Indians higher prices. This was noticed by a customer who took his turn after an Indian soldier. When asked, the fisher lady replied, "They came here to eat, did they?"

One newspaper editor who came out well during the affair was Mr. S. M. Gopalaratnam of the Eelamurasu. He had once served as editor of the Eelandu and was made editor of the Eelamurasu a short while before the protest. During the crisis he wrote several bold editorials and articles. The need for unity amongst Tamils was something he felt strongly about. When the L.T.T.E. took on the E.P.R.L.F. he wrote an editorial expressing his concern for the hundreds of youths who had died in disillusionment with a feeling of being abandoned. He said that the Tamils' failure to unite had left them exposed before their enemies. Barely two months after he took over, the paper passed under L.T.T.E. management. However the L.T.T.E. treated him with respect and quite often he had his way. An unsolicited tribute was paid to S.M.G., as he was fondly called, by the management of the University Senior Common Room: During the time S.M.G. wrote his independent editorials the Eelamurasu was the only paper to by kept out of the Common Room. With the new L.T.T.E. management of the paper from 1 January 1987, the paper reappeared in the Common Room after a month. As regards S.M.G., the L.T.T.E. may have shown higher standards than that citadel of intellectual freedom. The L.T.T.E. often respected those who dealt with them honestly.

By Rajani Thiranagama
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