Follow @southasiaanalys

Sri Lanka: update no 8:


Note 34

Death of Manickadasan, the PLOTE Leader:

Manickadasan, the military commander of PLOT was killed in a clay more explosion on 2nd September at his camp six miles north of Vavuniya town. Manickadasan had just got down the steps after a meeting, to receive a senior Sri Lankan official when the claymore mine went off killing him and his two lieutenants Elango and Vino. His bodyguard Thavam was seriously injured. Initial reports that he was killed by a "suicide" bomber were found to be incorrect..

His "lucky" camp was virtually a fort, hard to penetrate even by his own party men. All visitors and even Plot cadres were checked at two points before they were allowed inside the camp. The camp itself was well defended. The bomb could not have been embedded in the roof without the active connivance of an insider who perhaps over a period of time must have been won over by Manickadasan’s enemies. In the last few months there have been intermittent clashes between TELO and PLOT cadres near about Vavuniya over the collection of taxes, forcing the intervention of Sri Lankan Army. But the professional way that it has been done shows that it could not have been the doing of TELO.

Manickadasan had the survivor’s instincts. His camp survived the initial onslaught of Sri Lankan Army, in the beginning of eighties, then the IPKF and then again the Sri Lankan army. In each case he managed to get into the good books of the dominant force and continued to maintain his camp. Like many others Manickdasan had his share of torture and killings and his camp was notorious for ruthless collection of taxes and elimination of all those opposed to PLOT which included their own cadres.

It should be said to Manickadasan’s credit that he had one good quality in him. He was fiercely loyal to his leader late Uma Maheshwaran despite all the misdeeds of the latter. Till his death he was in active pursuit of Uma’s killers! His death is a great loss to the military wing of the PLOT.

He was one of the few surviving original members of Tamil militants who had their training with the PFLP in West Asia. He survived the Wellikada massacre where most of the PLOT sympathisers were killed by the Sinhala prisoners in the last week of July 1983. He escaped from the Batticola prison soon after ( another notable escapee was Varadaraja Perumal of EPRLF) and established himself near Vavuniya

Operation Ranagosa:

A major offensive under the code name Ranagosa 5, started in the early hours of 12th September. Sri Lankan troops moved out of their camps towards LTTE held areas from three directions-Pallamadu, Periyamadhu and Chirattikulam. The attacks were preceded by heavy artillery and air strafing. Due to stiff resistance from LTTE cadres the army could not make any gains. The engagement lasted the whole day. Official sources from the Army declared that LTTE lost 53 of their cadres while the LTTE acknowledged the loss of 19 cadres only. Sri Lankan army losses appear to be heavy. The attacks were mainly restricted to the northern and western portions of Mannar district. The objective appears to be to go along the Highway A 32 up to Velliankulam as part of the strategy to open the alternate main supply route. Velliyankulam being not far from LTTE strongholds of Tunukkai and Mallavi, it is not going to be an easy task for the Sri Lankan army either to capture the town.

As pointed out in earlier updates, the Sri Lankan army appears to be stretching itself too far and with limited forces at its disposal has not been able to sustain its advance for long. Already the army is losing control in Batticola district. Even Amparai which normally had been free was affected. Some major incidents during the period were.

* On 18th August, at a place north of Oranthan, LTTE attacked an army post and an armoured vehicle convoy. 11 members of the security forces were killed.

* The same day, one giant transmitter tower was destroyed at Nuwara Eliya..

On 21st August Batticola airport as well as an army camp was attacked.

* On 22nd August, the SL army camp near Oddusudan area was attacked. The LTTE lost three of its cadres.

* On 25th August, one SL army patrol was attacked and six were killed.

The LTTE appears to be achieving its objective of keeping the Sri Lankan troops engaged and not letting them reinforce each other for any major offensive. The opening up of an alternate MSR (main supply Route) is therefore not going to be an easy task.

Dr. S.Chandrasekharan                                                 13.9.99