Monday, May 18, 2009

Tigers vanquished in their own lair

The tigers have been vanquished in their own den. It’s been 26 years and more since Velupillai Prabhakaran began his quest for an independent homeland for the Tamils, a minority, in Sri Lanka. Nobody here (Tamil Nadu particularly) or elsewhere would have quite imagined that Prabhakaran, the charismatic and handsome leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) would be killed in the way he was – trying to escape from the Lankan special forces. Also killed were Prabhakaran’s son Charles Antony and leaders Soosai and Pottu Aman.

It was a sad end for a man who probably espoused the Tamil minority cause in Sri Lanka like no other. But Prabhakaran was also responsible for many suicide attacks, bloody fights and what history will always remember him for, his planned assassination of Indian Prime Minsiter Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. How life plays out, when you consider that Prabhakaran’s death occurred barely two days before the day Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated 18 years ago!

Prabhakaran will always be remembered not only as the founder of the LTTE, but as the person who moulded a rag-tag group of poorly armed men into one of the most dreaded insurgent groups in the world. He himself brooked no dissent and is said to have been ruthless and exceptionally daring.

In Colombo and elsewhere in the island nation, Sri Lankans celebrated, burning Prabhakran’s effigies. Sri Lanka's army chief, Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, who backed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa proved too much for even Prabhakran to handle, declared: "We can announce very responsibly that we have liberated the whole country from terrorism."

However, having known the LTTE and its powers of resurfacing, it may be too early to write the organisation off. Only time will tell. Right now, Colombo is on high alert, and so is Tamil Nadu.

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