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A Story of an Impoverished Man’s Murder by the LTTE’s Guns

Translated from Tamil into English by N. Aseervatham

On 4 June 2005, Saturday afternoon around 12:40 pm, Rajadurai Thangarajah (Thappan) was shot and killed by the LTTE in the village of Uduppiddy in Vadamaratchi, Jaffna. He was returning home on his bicycle after purchasing vegetables at the Uduppiddy market. Two LTTE cadres followed him on a motorcycle and shot and killed him.

The murder of Thappan is one of the several thousands of killings that have come to cast a dark shadow over the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle. Thappan was the maternal uncle of Sutha alias Sriharan an important member of Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO). The LTTE arrested Thappan soon after it decimated the TELO in 1987. He was imprisoned at the LTTE’s Polikandy camp. Even after inquiring from various LTTE leaders over six days, his family obtained no information about Thappan’s whereabouts. Finally on the sixth day with the help of Mani Teacher, the stepmother of the present wife of LTTE Sea Tiger Leader Soosai, it was learned that Thappan was held in then Jaffna Commander Kittu’s camp. The LTTE agreed to allow Thappan’s wife and children to meet him. On that day, when he first saw his wife and children, Thappan crouched down in pain and was unable to walk. His entire body was bruised and bleeding after being scraped with the thorny edges of palmyrah leaf stems, and his wounds were infested with and bitten all over by ants. He told his wife to go and beg for his release from Nalliah master (then a dignitary of the LTTE). He said that after torturing him with palmyrah stems and ants, they buried him up to his neck in hot sand. The LTTE claimed the money from the Killinochi bank robbery by TELO was handed over to Sriharan and wanted him to return the money. Mahattya (then second in command of the LTTE) told him, “you don’t have to return the money now, just confess that you have the money.” Thappan felt he could not simply confess and then face the consequences. It was then that they threw him on top of the anthill.

The LTTE then charged-sheeted Thappan with ten crimes.

In truth, the Killinochi Bank money robbed was lent on interest to Thurairasa, Irasathurai Rasenthiram, and the second son of Yogamma, all living in Kommanthurai. Nobody knows what happened to that money after TELO was attacked by the LTTE. Thappan was released (back in 1987) after forty long days of torture.

In 1988, when the Indian Army arrived in Kommanthurai, they called the public for a mandatory meeting at the Kommanthurai School. Thappan also went to the meeting. Following that, the LTTE started to harass all those who attended the meeting. The LTTE attempted to arrest Thappan again. Hearing of his impending arrest, Thappan escaped to India. Since there was no one to help him in India, he returned to Colombo and from there went to Killinochi and worked as labourer. Some people advised him to return to Jaffna rather than suffer a lonely life. But when he went back, he was arrested by the LTTE and detained at the Pathalai Prison in Jaffna. He was again tortured and asked about the Killinochi Bank money. And he was again released by the efforts of his wife and children.

From that day to the end, his life was a struggle amidst poverty and he had not settled his two daughters above thirty years in age. As a landless farmer, he tilled the ten lachams of land owned by his older sister to earn a meagre living.

Six months ago, the LTTE sold the land on which he was working to Thurairasa using forged deeds. Thappan refused to leave the land that had been in his family for generations. Three months ago, when he returned to his fields, Thurairasa and wife, Thurairasa’s younger brother Natkunam and Veesithambu’s second daughter’s husband caught Thappan, tied him to a tree and beat him. Thappan’s elder sister and wife complained to the police and he was untied and released. But the police refused to accept Thappan’s complaint. Then they attempted to get TNA Parliamentarian Sivajeelingam to push the case, but Sivajeelingam also did not help. Finally, they got a lawyer in Nelliady to register the case for attacking him. Not only that, they also registered another case to reclaim their land. The hearings for those court cases were to be on 6 June 2005 and 7 June 2005. Thappan was murdered just before the court dates.

The person who ordered his murder is Thileepan Thevarasa, a LTTE intelligence wing cadre now working in Batticaloa. Thileepan is also a cousin of the wife of LTTE Sea Tiger Commander Soosai. And Thileepan is married to Thurairasa’s daughter.

This one among many such incidents is demonstrative of the LTTE’s true attitude towards impoverished farmers. No legal order has been sympathetic towards the plight of the poor. It has been two decades since TELO was wiped out. But the LTTE continues to visit vengeance on those like this poor farmer connected to it, in contrast to the privileged status it has now granted top ranking TELO men Sivajeelingam, Selvam Adaikalainathan and a few other cronies.


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