Feature Article

Tributes to Black Tigers draw parallels between Anuradhapura mission and IPKF times

[TamilNet, Thursday, 25 October 2007, 22:58 GMT]
While bidding farewell to the 21 Black Tigers before their departure for Anuradhapura mission, the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (LTTE) leader V. Pirapaharan told them that they will remain in his heart as guiding spirits providing willpower and moral strength in steering the current struggle for liberation. He compared their sacrifices to those of Kumarapppa, Pulendran and Thileepan, which inspired him personally in his determination to face the Indian forces successfully two decades ago, said Kalaikkoan, an instructor of Lt. Col. Rayan Academy for Tiger special forces, addressing a memorial event held at Puthukkudiyiruppu Thursday.

LTTE's northern and eastern commanders Kumarappa and Pulendran, with ten other cadres, took cyanide and killed themselves while in detention in Palaali in October 1987, protesting their arrest despite immunity granted following Indo-Sri Lanka accord. Thileepan, an LTTE political wing leader, succumbed to his fast-unto-death campaign in September 1987 demanding the Indian government to fulfill its pledges.

Black Tigers in airbase raid
Lt. Col. Ilangko
Black Tigers in airbase raid
Lt. Col. Veeman
Black Tigers in airbase raid
Captain Pancheelan
Black Tigers in airbase raid
Captain Eezhappiriya
Giving details about the Anuradhapura mission, Mr. Kalaikkoan, who was personally witnessing the communication of Black Tiger commandos with Vanni, further said that control of the airbase and the destruction of aircraft in the hangar were accomplished in the first 20 minutes of the operation. "We counted 8 through the names and numbers of the aircraft our commandos were reading out. But they also said there were many more in the hangar which they couldn't count due to fire and blast."

The operation was headed by Lt. Col. Ilangko, who launched the mission at 3:20 a.m.

Captain Pancheelan, who came to Vanni from Batticaloa, played a significant role in a key defensive engagement. He was specialized in navigating the jungles.

Captain Eezhappiriyaa, a female commando, who was specially trained in handling anti-aircraft guns, took control of the guns inside the base, and started blasting the installations at the airbase using Sri Lanka Air Force's own guns.

The highly guarded airbase was being expanded to house supersonic MIGs and Kfirs.

Shortly after taking control of the base, the LTTE aircraft flew in and bombed at the Sri Lankan troops who tried entry into the area under commando control and forced them to withdraw, Kalaikkoan said.

The Sri Lankan spy aircraft which was discovered a little later, at a hidden part of the airbase, was destroyed by Lt. Col. Veeman. "We were able to hear the blasts over the communication equipment," Kalaikkoan said.

"Until noon, the following day, the commandos bravely faced the Sri Lankan soldiers who tried to re-enter the heart of their airbase."

Lt. Col. Ilangko, who led the mission, succumbed to his injuries while still fighting, around morning 8:30. He had joined the Tigers in 1995. With more than 14 military operations behind him, and especially remembered for his achievements in Operation Unceasing Waves III (the overrunning of Elephant Pass military garrison in year 2000), he had been continuously appealing to be chosen as a Black Tiger commando for more than 9 years till he was finally provided the opportunity in 2006.

"All of them willingly embraced death, after telling us not to worry about them, but to go ahead in the struggle."

In his speech, Kalaikoan, the former director of LTTE's Navam Academy, indicated that the whole operation was planned by the LTTE leader Pirapaharan himself.

"They left no enemy aircraft behind."

LTTE leader paying homage to the Black Tiger commandos of Anuradthapura mission [Photo: LTTE]
LTTE cadres and civilians paying homage to the Black Tigers in Ki'linochchi



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