Debacles suffered by our forces under Chandrika’s reign – Part I
Posted on January 9th, 2018


Victor Ivan’s notorious Bandit Queen Chandrika in her dementia keeps on telling the blatant lie that it is she who completed ¾ of the 30 year’ of war.  Although this claim is not even believed by her trusted friends and acolytes this article is to disprove her malicious claim with some detailed accounts of facts outlining the misery and setbacks suffered by our armed forces during her reign.

Ron Gluckman an American reporter who has been covering Asian Affairs since 1990 in a cover feature for Asiaweek in  August 1996 said that Chandrika Kumaratunga has survived as a politician, scraping by with a series of risky maneuvers, but piece continues to elude Sri Lanka as the killings continue. He says that several people interviewed for this article have, in fact, been assassinated, including Lakshman Kadiragamer.  The writer says that at the time of his writing the army was advancing toward the northern Tiger-held town of Kilinochchi and fighting has left over 200 people dead and forced out some 155,000 from their homes

Ron Gluckman says although Kumaratunga returned the favour, making her mother prime minister for an unprecedented, but largely ceremonial, third term in 1994, it is an uneven alliance. Mother and daughter are polar opposites. Kumaratunga speaks her mind in spontaneous outbursts. Her lively, mischievous manner contrasts starkly with her quiet, calculating mother. A shrewd strategist, Bandaranaike, 80, is a fervent nationalist.  In contrast no matter how many saris Kumaratunga wraps around her stocky frame, and despite her public expression of the Buddhist faith, few see her as anything but a Western outsider next to Mrs. B., as her mother is known. The current rumour sweeping Colombo, in fact, is that Kumaratunga is a wild swinger who parties late.

The article states that Kumaratunga was criticized recently for being overseas when the LTTE set off bombs in a Colombo train station and wiped out the entire northeastern army base of Mullaittivu, leaving at least 1,200 dead. Though the president was supposedly on an official trip to London, she was later reported in Egypt with her children and had to cut short her holiday. Ron Gluckman says that Mrs. Bandaranaike herself has disagreed often with her daughter, conveying the opinion that Kumaratunga is sometimes reckless in her presidential judgment.

The writer says that her tendency to tardiness has become a national complaint and on a state visit to India last year, she kept President Shankar Dayal Sharma waiting for 40 minutes — even though she had no appointments beforehand and this subject is a topic in the presidential palace too. “She’ll be coming soon,” a member of her 700-man security team advised him one day. An hour later, all he can offer was, “Soon.” Still later, he strolled by chuckling: “Very soon, I think. He comments that some say her tardiness is a sign of inexperience and inefficiency.

The writer points out with the power and water problems, the war has come home to everyone and the country’s infrastructure is falling apart, and critics contend that the president has no viable plan to rebuild the economy and her regime is gripped by a terrible inertia, quoting a veteran journalist in Colombo he says that no decisions are being made, no motion is going on and the country is actually found to be moving backward.

The writer Ron Gluckman says that this is the mood on the street too, where residents have watched Sri Lanka’s annual economic growth of 10% to 15% dwindle to official rates of about 5% while independent analysts say the real figure will likely be under 4% in that year, prices are rising faster than wages, and the war in the north rages on with mounting casualties and no end in sight. Quoting a government worker he says that Kumaratunga has promised to end the war and hold elections within a year but she has not fulfilled both promises.

The writer points out that even her ambitious plan to grant greater autonomy to the Tamils may fail to yield much goodwill as Kumaratunga has not even secured the backing of moderate Tamil leaders and members of the influential Buddhist clergy continue to stir simmering racial tension with complaints about the erosion of the island’s territorial integrity.

He states that he got a glimpse of how much this regime’s appeal was slipping at the president’s own home. Kumaratunga hosted a party for 150 of Sri Lanka’s most influential lawyers — and one visiting reporter. The lawyers were among her biggest supporters in elections two years ago, yet I was soon surrounded by a hissing mob. “The lady has lost her grip,” says one visitor. Adds his friend: “The president is ineffective. She has become our biggest problem.”

Surely this was not what the president had in mind earlier in the day, when she told me: “These are my most loyal supporters. It will be good for you to hear what they say.”

The writer explains that it is just one more case of bad judgment for Sri Lanka’s bad-luck president. For all her energy, idealism and dedication to human rights, Kumaratunga comes off most like Asia’s version of former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. Her goals are impeccable, but her execution, thus far, seems faulty.

Kumaratunga is stubbornly self-righteous like Carter and, to her immense credit, just as high-minded about human rights and justice. But unless she learns to be a better politician, she seems set to follow Carter’s lead and be remembered not as the crisis-solver that Sri Lanka cries out for but as one of the finest leaders Asia never had.

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A report published in the Frontline weekly magazine of the Indian  newspaper The Hindu said that under the second phase of Operation Oyatha Alaigal (Unceasing Waves) of the LTTE  in September 1998, the LTTE captured Kilinochchi, thereafter creeped into Paranthan, south of Elephant Pass, in a series of short, swift campaigns that went unreported in the Colombo media, the camps at Karadipokku, Paranthan Junction, the Paranthan Chemical Corporation complex and the camp that was at Umaialpuram, between Paranthan and Elephant Pass, were taken. Umaialpuram and Iyakachchi were the two points where the troops at Elephant Pass could get drinking water as the water within the Elephant Pass base was too brackish for consumption.)

The first stage of the LTTE campaign to take control of the peninsula had been launched on December 11, 1999 .The camps at Vettilaikerny and Kattaikadu on the east coast and Pullaveli to the north of E lephant Pass were taken in a land-sea joint campaign. With the fall of Vettilaikerny, Kattaikadu and Pullaveli, the land-sea supply routes to Elephant Pass were cut off, and the only way through was along the A-9 Highway from Chavakachcheri. Under these conditions the Army brought in the elite 53rd Division trained by the United States and Pakistan to relieve the pressure on the 54th Division deployed in the Elephant Pass sector; it was stationed at the Pachilaippalli and Vadamaratchy East Pradeshiya division camps.

Under the second stage of the LTTE campaign, a multi-pronged assault, unfolded on March 26, 2000 . A joint operation led by Vasanthan of the Charles Anthony Infantry division and Veerendran of the Sea Tigers took control of the Chembiyanpattru-Maruthankerny-Thalaiady complex that housed the 3rd operational headquarters on the Vadamaratchy east coast.

These were on the land strip between the Bay of Bengal and the Jaffna Lagoon. The army then vacated the camps at Maamunai and Amban; the soldiers relocated to positions to the west of the lagoon.

Simultaneously, a squad from the LTTE Siruthai” (Leopard) Commando brigade raided Pallai, the largest junction to the north of Iyakachchi on the A-9 Highway, and decommissioned at least 11 pieces of artillery.

A contingent led by the LTTE’s deputy military chief Balraj then took a swathe of the Jaffna-Kandy road between Pallai and Eluthumattuvaal. These included the areas around Arasakerni, Ithavil, Indrapuram. Muhamaalai and Kovil Kadu. With this, the LTTE effectively cut off the main road link between the Elephant Pass/Iyakachchi camps and Jaffna.

Among Brigadier” Balraj’s many military feats the crowning achievement was the fight he put up in 2000 at Ithaavil on the A-9 Highway that interdicted transport between the Elephant Pass garrison and the supply lines along the Kilaly – Ezhuthumadduvaal-Nagar Kovil axis for 24 days at a stretch. It was this manoeuvre that contributed crucially in the subsequent fall of Elephant pass on April 22nd 2000

On March 26, 2000 the LTTE’s Kilinochchi commander Theepan led a team of men across the dried-up Chundikulam lagoon on the southeast of the peninsula and established positions in the Mullian and Vannankulam region. But the team ran into the Forward Defence Lines and was prevented from advancing towards Elephant Pass in the Vathirayan area.

The third and decisive stage of the LTTE campaign was played out around noon on Tuesday, April 18, 2000. A Leopard commando raid saw the LTTE take control of the Maruthankerny causeway, which enabled it to proceed westwards on the Maruthankerny-Puthukadu Junction road, which links the east coast and the A-9 Highway. The Puthukadu Junction is between Iyakachchi and Pallai. The LTTE proceeded along the southern areas of Muhavil, Soranpattru and Maasaar, after demolishing a 40-foot bund put up by the army as a d efence measure. The Tigers headed south on the A-9 Highway and reached the northern sector of the Iyakachchi camp. In effect, Elephant Pass and Iyakachchi were marooned.

Thereafter, the LTTE mounted a fierce attack on the Iyakachchi camp from Kovil Vayal and Sangathaar Vayal. As the fighting intensified, the Tiger cadres to the southeast of Elephant Pass broke through and began assailing the camp. The armoured and artillery units led by Bhanu pounded the base and moveded forward. The telecommunication tower in the Elephant Pass base was damaged severing all telephone lines to the north.

At a critical juncture the bulk of LTTE cadres led by Balraj abandoned the A-9 Highway and joined the fighting around Iyakachchi after setting up two cut out” posts to the north of Pallai and south of Eluthumattuvaal to prevent an army advancement. Heavy fighting in and around Iyakachchi began on April 20,2000. The Tigers positioned themselves to the south of the camp and cut it off from Elephant Pass.

Iyakachchi cap fell on April 21 2000. The LTTE entered the camp and destroyed ammunition dumps and buildings. Thereafter, the theatre of war shifted to Elephant Pass. The LTTE advanced on Elephant Pass from the north, northeast and southeast. There was heavy exchange of fire all through that long night, and even as the fighting was on, the army began to move out. By 11-30 a.m. on April 22, the large garrison at Elephant Pass vacated” it. The LTTE marched in at 2-30 p.m. the same day. The flag was hoisted on Apr il 23 2000.

The security forces vacated Elephant Pass only after they received orders to that effect from the defence establishment. Army commander Srilal Weerasooriya instructed Chief of Staff Lionel Balagalle to issue the order, which was sent by personal courier to Elephant Pass. Commanding Officer Brigadier Egodawela received it at 10 p.m. on April 21 2000.

Just see the humiliation underwent by our troops forced from Elephant Pass.  The retreating troops initially started moving out to Pallai, 14 km away, along the A-9 Highway, but when the LTTE thwarted them, they took to a disused rail track and a sandtrack to its west. From Pallai, the soldiers headed west for the relative safety of Kilali. But when Tiger mortars pounded this route, the army used another circuitous route – a dirt track going northwest from Elephant Pass to Kilali through Kurinchatheevu, Oorvanikanpattru and Thanmankerny. On this longer route, however, many soldiers succumbed to heat and dehydration, apart from the unceasing LTTE shells.

Nevertheless a good number of the troops moved out from Elephant Pass, mostly on foot. Before leaving, they spiked some artillery pieces, but even so the LTTE seized some powerful guns, including 152-mm artillery guns, and a number of tanks and armoured cars, besides other arms and ammunition. A preliminary list released by the LTTE revealed a mind-boggling armoury. Elephant Pass was in many ways a military debacle for Colombo then.

Although there were more than 15,000 troops in the Elephant Pass base and there were fewer than 5,000 LTTE cadres in the peninsula, the army was defeated because it was a demoralised force at that time. The defence establishment’s decision to move the troops out of the Elephant Pass base was, however, forced on it primarily by a shortage of drinking water. The camp was equipped with machinery for desalination of water, but it had broken down and not bee n repaired.

The Elephant Base base also had ample quantities of canned food and dry rations; and after taking over the camp, the LTTE distributed these to civilians in the Wanni area.

Defence Ministry sources estimated that over 1,000 LTTE cadres were killed in the three phases of fighting from December 11, 1999. The LTTE claimed that only 303 of its cadres were killed during the campaign, including 35 casualties in the final battle for Elephant Pass. The Tigers further claimed that over 1,000 soldiers were killed; the Army, however, said that only 80 of its men were killed and over 100 were missing in action. Subsequently the Tigers returned through the Red Cross the bodies of 126 soldiers, of which 28 were identified. Among the top Army officers who were killed were Brig. Percy Fernando, Col. Bhatiya Jayatilleke, Col. Neil Akmeemana and Lt. Col. Hewage Hewawasam. All of them were promoted posthumously.On the Tigers’ side, the women’s brigade chief, ‘Lt. Col.’ Lakshiya, was reported killed.

The Elephant Pass debacle shocked people across the country. And the government sought to put a brave face on the defeat saying that the setback” at Elephant Pass ought to be seen as a natural phenomenon in wars of this nature and we have to accept both victories and setbacks in the same manner.

Although the LTTE victory at elephant pass was hailed as a turning point in the war at that time the situation changed gradually with the passage of time. All areas under LTTE control were wrested back in stages by the Sri Lankan Armed forces during the 2006 -2009 period under the reign of Mr. Mahinda Raujapqksa.  Elephant Pass itself was re-taken in the first week of January 2009. The war itself ended in May 2009 with the LTTE military debacle at Mullivaaikkaal.

Thus the LTTE’s famous victories, Elephant Pass, Pooneryin.Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Pallai ans Paranthan etc and the euphoria surrounding it proved to be ephemeral, ultimately.

(To be continued)

One Response to “Debacles suffered by our forces under Chandrika’s reign – Part I”

  1. ranjit Says:

    Original bandit queen is a good woman. She fought against criminals and shared her loot with the poor people not like our vicious bandit queen who stole public money and went and hide in England. This woman insulted our president Mahinda Rajapaksa saying he is greedy for power and glory but look at her now what she is doing by becoming SLFP organizer for Attanagalla. Aren’t she have any shame? She is a witch who has come back to hand over our beloved Motherland to outsiders and her friends in Tamil diaspora. I don’t know why people listen to her. She is a devil with revenge all over her body and soul. She is an enemy of Sinhala buddhist population although she boasts about her achievements in the past. She is an agent of the west and the Indian parasites. Better she leave and go and live with her friends and supporters in the west. Get lost bandit queen the wicked traitor to our Motherland.

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