LTTE in Batticaloa

No. 91 Lake Road, Batticaloa is our house, where I lived for the first 14 years of my life! My mother adored the place, and all my happy memories are somehow related to this house. Today, the house is squattered by former Chief Minister of Eastern Province Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan, and his group/party Tamil People Liberation Tigers (TMVP).

The house was purchased by my maternal grandfather Senator Manickam from his cousin. It was then gifted to his daughter Kala, my mother. In the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s the house was at the centre of politics in Batticaloa. It hosted so many politicians from all over the country, and from all political persuasions!

My earliest memory in the house was the 1978 cyclone that ravaged the Eastern coast. I was 3 years old then. After the Indo-Lanka accord was signed, in September 1987 LTTE’s infamous Pottu Amman turned up one morning with a pistol and wearing face mask to kill my father, prompting my mother to hit him with a broomstick and visibly shaken Pottu removed his mask. Fortunately my father was in Colombo that day. A month later in October 1987, two LTTE gunmen turned up again, they were disarmed by friends of my father’s and tied up. An LTTE team with AK 47 assault rifles shot their way into the house to rescue both men. Again my father survived an LTTE attempt to gun him down.

In December 1989 when the IPKF withdrew, the LTTE advanced into Batticaloa town. My father was attending parliament at that time. Large contingent of LTTE gunmen burst into our house, killing two of the guards. They assaulted me, tortured me, and kidnapped me. I was merely a 14 year old. After relentless pressure exerted by various diplomatic missions, and helpful support by then State Minister for Defence, Ranjan Wijeratne, myself and my mother were released. Of course we were fortunate that the LTTE were having their honeymoon with Premadasa regime in Colombo at that time. Also, on the very same day LTTE leaders Balasingam and Yogi were travelling to Madras to meet Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanithi. It may have also played a part in our release.

After we were released, an Air force plane took us to Colombo. Within a week the LTTE chased my grandmother, looted our belongings and burned my father’s library that contained more than 5000 books. Today, I do not have any photos of my ancesters, not even a single photo taken during my childhood. All burned.

Within 5 months of being in Colombo, my parents were assassinated by the LTTE, and I left for England on 6 September 1990.

After the army took control of Batticaloa in 1991, my house was taken over by the Sri Lanka Army. It was occupied by SLNG until 2007/2008 when it was handed over to armed personnel of the break-away faction of LTTE, now called TMVP.

In 2009 when the war ended, and when I returned to Batticaloa a large board depicting the photo of Chief Minister was prominent on the wall of my property. Within a few months I requested the Chief Minister to hand over my property. He was a man who embodied a cross between a warlord and drug baron. He threatened me….

I subsequently met then government officials requested him to return my house, since it was the army that occupied it. Unfortunately the politics of convenience prevailed at my expense. With Pillaiyan’s and TMVP’s dubious human rights record I was warned not take any legal measures to oust him.

After he was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the assassination of Joseph Pararajasingam, the MP for Batticaloa, I took the difficult decision to evict him through the court of law. Today, I am facing severe threats and find myself fighting a mob with ruthless violent past. However, how can I let this criminals occupy our house????

Our country is liberated from the clutches of LTTE terrorists in 2009, but nine years on my house and my life is still in the evil grip of another bunch of Tigers led by Pillaiyan (Tamil People Liberation Tigers -TPLT). As far as I am concerned I haven’t returned home….

By Arun Tambimuttu

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