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Victory & Beyond | dailynews.lk

The guns are silent


The President sharing Kiribath with the soldiers

The first call I made when I saw the pictures on TV was to Neelan Tiruchelvam's son.

Neelan was our sounding board whenever we landed in Colombo, soft-spoken, camera-shy, this Tamilian in the Sri Lankan capital always had a way of making himself heard.

When he came up with a plan for devolution for Tamil-majority areas, he was mocked by many Sinhalas, and was sent a death warrant by Prabhakaran.

On July 29, 1999, Neelan, peace petitioner and human rights activist was killed in the most horrific way, as his car stopped at a traffic light on his way to work, a suicide bomber came up to his window and exploded.

What many who confuse the LTTE with 'Sri Lankan Tamils' seem to consistently forget is that Prabhakaran killed more Tamils than Sri Lankan forces and the IPKF are accused of doing. Not to mention more than 2,000 Indian soldiers.

From the early 80s he systematically co-opted or assassinated every Tamil leader who advocated talks, non-violence or elections in the North and the East. He is the only terrorist worldwide who has been given so many chances to come for talks, even though he only used every ceasefire he got to rebuild and regroup his forces.

He killed Premadasa when his emissaries were in dialogue with the Sri Lankan Government, attacked Chandrika when she was talking through Norwegian mediators - and killed Rajiv Gandhi after giving express assurances in Bhutan the LTTE wouldn't target our former Prime Minister. Betrayal became stock-in-trade for him-which is why the Sri Lankan Government's most effective offensive against him only came when it disregarded all calls for a ceasefire, despite the massive human cost.

The Sri Lankan army also benefited from two specific things, the Indian Navy's vigil of our coastline that closed Prabhakaran's exit routes, and US and Canada's vigil of its banks that closed Prabhakaran's funding routes.

One may always wonder why Prabhakaran kept all his leadership in one place at the end, or why he was wearing his ID and recognisable Tiger camouflage stripes when he died.

Vinaashkaale Vipreet Buddhi, I guess. (Loosely translated to: When the doom is inevitable, one loses the sense of logic and reason).

While it isn't sub-continental to rejoice over anyone's death, the truth is that no lasting solution to the conflict was ever possible in Prabhakaran's lifetime.

The Indian Government has a real role here, to build bridges both literally and figuratively and help in the reconstruction particularly educational infrastructure of the North and the East.

The other task-helping more than 90,000 refugees living in camps in Rameswaram return home to their schools and their jobs and their dignity.

A chance for an entire community to rebuild its identity of knowledge, hardwork and civilization, that for decades has been subsumed by one man's most diabolical invention, the suicide bomb.

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