Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Jain Commission Interim Report

Indo-Sri Lankan Agreement: Evolution and its Aftermath
Chapter II - Indian Peace Keeping Force

Sections 8 to 15

8 Backdrop | 9 Induction of the IPKF | 10 Surrender of Arms | 11 Formation of Interim Administrative Council | 12 LTTE Resiles

IPKF operations: Initial Phase Oct 87 to Dec 87 - 13 General | 14 Operations in Jaffna Sector

IPKF Operations: Jan 88 to Sep 89 - 15 General | 15.1 Operations in Jaffna Sector | 15.2 Operations in Vavuniya Sector | 15.3 Operations in Trincomalee Sector | 15.4 Operations in Batticaloa Sector | 15.5 Expansion of the IPKF Mandate | 15.6 Organisations of Town Commandant Jaffna


8 Soon after signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement, Secretary to the President Mr. W.M.P.B. Menikdiwela wrote a letter to the Foreign Secretary Shri K.P.S. Menon that he has been directed by the President to inform that the Government of Sri Lanka is in need of urgent assistance to bring about the cessation of hostilities in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. A request was made to provide appropriate military assistance to ensure the surrender of arms and cessation of hostilities in the Jaffna Peninsula and, if required, in the Eastern Province as under the Agreement the responsibility is of the Government of India as a Guarantor for the implementation of its provisions.

Some Naval vessels were also required to be despatched to Colombo with immediate effect to stabilise the situation and to preserve the unity, stability and integrity of Sri Lanka. The Government of India was asked to respond immediately.(Annexure- A 3) Pursuant to this request, the Foreign Secretary, Government of India Shri K.P.S. Menon wrote back the same day to the Secretary to the President conveying that the Government of India is ready to provide assistance in full measure. The requirements of the Government of Sri Lanka were in terms of Para 2.14 and 2.16(c) of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement. Secretary to the President was informed that the Prime Minister of India assures that India shall cooperate fully in the matters touched upon in his letter. (Annexure-A 4)

Induction of the IPKF

9 The IPKF commenced its landing in Sri Lanka from 30th July, 1987.

In the Cabinet meeting on 5th August, 1987, President Jayawardene handed over copies of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement to all the Ministers and sought their views with respect to its implementation. Prime Minister Premadasa was present in the Cabinet meeting. As a major step forward in implementing the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement, President Jayawardene decided to appoint an interim administrative set-up for the Northern and Eastern Provinces pending elections to the Provincial Council.

President Jayawardene, in an interview appearing in Colombo's 'Sunday Observer' dated August 9, 1987, expressed optimism that the Agreement with India which was a landmark, would survive initial opposition and provide a lasting solution to the Tamils' separatist conflict.

National Security Minister Lalith Athulathmudali, in an interview published in the daily 'Island' dated August 4, 1987, said "Since the Agreement had been signed and peace had come to the troubled island, why not work to make it a success". He was of the view that once the Agreement was implemented properly, the apprehensions of the Sinhalese and the Muslims about some of the clauses in the Agreement would be removed.

There was a comparative peace in and around Colombo since July 31. This was attributed to the heavy induction of armed forces in and around Colombo and the presence of two Indian Naval ships off Colombo port in addition to the Government's concerted effort to educate the masses about the Indo-Sri Lankan Agreement. The law and order maintenance in the Colombo city was entrusted to the Police in the suburbs of Colombo and the Southern districts of the island were patrolled by the Army and para- military forces. Curfew hours were progressively reduced.

In the Northern region, following the signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement and reports of Tamil militants surrendering arms, a large number of people who had abandoned their homes near the Army camps in Jaffna Peninsula had started returning. Shops near the Palaly Army camp were re-opened and business started as usual.

Mr. Prabhakaran declared that he would stay away from the elections but his party would take part in the proposed Provincial Council elections. Mr. Balasubramaniam Kanagrazter alias Raheem of the LTTE stated that his party would contest all elections held in the North and East. The LTTE is planning to open an election office for the Northern Province shortly.

According to 'Island', dated August 8, 1987, the National President of the Young Men Muslim Association has in a statement lauded the Agreement as a part that has laid the foundation for an era of peace and amity. It was widely reported in the media that the Agreement between Sri Lanka and India was an encouraging step towards the solution of the ethnic conflict.

Surrender of Arms

10 On August 5, 1987, the LTTE cadres surrendered arms at Palaly airport in a ceremony attended by Gen. D.S. Atygalle, Sri Lankan Defence Secretary and Maj. Gen. Harkirat Singh. Mr. Yogi, Leader of the LTTE's political wing laid down his pistol on the table and received from Gen. Atygalle the Presidential proclamation declaring general amnesty for all Tamil detenues. Later, six trucks full of arms belonging to LTTE were surrendered.

On August 9, 1987, LTTE handed over a rocket launcher and several small arms at Jaffna Fort, at Puloly and Palaly. On the same day, some arms were surrendered in Batticoloa and in Trincomalee.

Mr. Hardip S. Puri deposed that the initial response given to the IPKF was very warm. Relations of IPKF with Sri Lankan Tamils and the LTTE continued to be cordial. India continued its efforts to encourage the LTTE back in the democratic process.

Formation of the Interim Adminsitrative Council

11 Efforts were made to arrive at an agreement regarding the composition of the proposed Interim Administrative Council. An agreement was reached with the LTTE on 27.9.1987 for formation of Interim Administrative Council with LTTE's participation. Mr. Prabhakaran addressed a letter dated 27.9.1987 (Annexure-A 6) to Shri J.N. Dixit informing him that the Central Committee of the LTTE has agreed to the suggestion regarding the composition of the proposed Interim Administrative Council. The agreed minutes of the discussions held between Shri J.N. Dixit and his delegation with Mr. Prabhakaran and his delegation on 23rd, 26th and 28th September, 1987 were signed by Shri Hardip S. Puri, First Secretary(Political), High Commission of India, Colombo and by Shri K. Mahendra Raja, Deputy Leader of the LTTE on 28.9.1987 (Annexure-A 7).

It was informed to Shri Prabhakaran that President Jayawardene has agreed to establish an Interim Administrative Council for the Northern and Eastern Provinces as per the following composition :

(a) Chief Administration/Administrator in Council - One of the three persons included in the list submitted by the LTTE to be appointed.

i. LTTE - 5

ii. TULF - 2

iii. Muslims - 2 (one nominee of


iv. Sinhalese - 2

---------------- Total : 12

Shri J.N. Dixit, High Commissioner of India informed His Excellency Shri J.R. Jayawardene, President of Sri Lanka vide his letter dated 28.9.1987 (Annexure-A 8) with enclosures). He also conveyed that the LTTE as well as the TULF had agreed to participate in the Interim Administrative Council and the LTTE also conveyed its assurance to him that it will fully cooperate in the implementation of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord of 29.7.1987 and all related matters. LTTE also assured that as soon as the composition of the Interim Administrative Council is announced by the President of Sri Lanka, they will call off their agitation and fast unto death campaign etc. The enclosure to this letter consisted of proposals for the Interim Administrative Council and the suggested names for Chief Administrator/Administrator in Council, the names of 9 LTTE persons out of which 5 are to be nominated, names of 2 nominees of the TULF, President to appoint two Sinhalese of his choice to the Council, President may appoint two Muslims to the Council, one of whom to be one of the persons mentioned at Sr. No. 8 and 9 in the LTTE list. This is apart from the 5 LTTE nominees.

LTTE resiles

12 Having agreed for the participation in the elections to the North East Provincial Council after putting the signatures, the LTTE resiled from the Agreement and boycotted the elections.

Initially, the IPKF was inducted to assist the Sri Lankan Government to implement the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement. It was assigned a limited role of ensuring the surrender of arms by militant groups and supervision of the ceasefire. By 4th August, 1987, an approximate strength of 10,000 IPKF soldiers was deployed in this role. But the role of the IPKF had later changed from being the Guarantor of peace, as originally envisaged, to being a de facto military force fighting against the LTTE.

President J.R. Jayawardene wrote an article with the caption "India and Sri Lanka" published in The Hindu dated 23rd November, 1993.(Annexure-A 16) He gave a historical background of Sri Lanka prior to its Independence and after Independence of Sri Lanka and dealt with the problem of statelessness of Indians in the Island. He wrote, "there has been no serious difference between them (India and Sri Lanka) since freedom until the problem of some of the Tamils in the North claiming the right to form an Independent Nation called "Eelam' using force to achieve it, received the support of the Tamil Nadu Government, helped by the Central Government of India in the 1980s. This created tension between the Governments of India and Sri Lanka. Fortunately, the two Governments signed the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement in July, 1987 and solved that issue.

He further wrote, "unfortunately, one group that originally agreed, after a few months, broke that Agreement and took to arms against the elected Government of Sri Lanka. India that was befriending the Eelamists, gave them up and together with the Sri Lanka Government, opposed those who broke the Agreement and continued their violent agitation".

Shri J.N. Dixit deposed, "Hostility on the part of Prabhakaran started against us from 7th or 8th October 1987 when the IPKF launched 'Operation Pawan' against the LTTE. The expression of anger appeared in their broadcasts, pamphlets and leaflets from their London and Paris offices and even in some magazines of Tamil Nadu.

IPKF Operations: Initial Phase - General

13 The overall situation in the first week of October, 1987 in both the Northern and Eastern Provinces was becoming explosive due to violence engineered by the LTTE. The suicide by 12 LTTE leaders including Kumarappa and Pulendran, Regional Commanders of LTTE in Jaffna and Trincomalee respectively, at Palaly on October 5, 1987 triggered off violent reactions by the LTTE in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, on October 5-6, 1987.

Since six of the deceased leaders hailed from the Velvettithurai region, the reaction in that region was immediate. Two Sri Lankan policemen were beaten to death by the LTTE cadres in Velvetithurai on October 5. Later, the same day, six policemen were shot dead by the LTTE in Vavuniya. In apparent retaliation to the suicidal deaths, the LTTE killed 8 Sri Lankan Army personnel who had been held captive by its cadres since May 1987 and their blind-folded bodies were discovered lying near the Jaffna university campus on the night of October 5. Sri Lankan Army camps in Point Pedro and Thondamannar were attacked by the LTTE on October 5. LTTE cadres launched an attack on the Jaffna Fort camp on October 6 which continued till late in the evening. In Palaly, a 'Rupavahini' photographer was kidnapped by the LTTE cadres on October 6. In Kankesanthurai, the General Manager and the Deputy Manager of the cement factory were shot dead the same day. Armed Tamil youths raided Sagarpura village (district Trincomalee) which had recently been colonised and murdered 25 Sinhalese. Before that, the fasting leader Thileepan died at about 1050 hrs on September 26, 1987. The crowds estimated to be around one lakh were primarily from the Vadamarachchi region, a stronghold of the LTTE and had gathered at Nallur Temple in Jaffna, the venue of the Satyagraha. On his death, all business establishments had closed down and black flags were hoisted at road junctions in Jaffna. The people were in agitated mood but the LTTE cadres were controlling them from committing violence. At least, three buses were set on fire by the crowds. It is in this background that 12 LTTE cadres committed suicide.

President Jayawardene categorically told on 7th October, 1987 to Raksha Mantri and the COAS on a visit to Colombo that in case the IPKF took no action against the LTTE, he would be forced to call out the Sri Lankan Security Force to protect the Sinhalas. This left no option or reaction time for further planning and preparation and a fresh directive was issued by the COAS on 7th October, 1987, laying down the operational parameters. The salient aspects of the directive were :

(a) Seize/destroy the LTTE radio/TV transmission equipment in the Jaffna Peninsula;

(b) Seize or jam LTTE communication network;

(c) Carry out raids on LTTE camps, caches and strong points;

(d) Personnel manning LTTE offices in the East be detained and interrogated to gain information. In case of resistance,force to be used;

(e) Actions to further consolidate hold of IPKF in the region.

Operations in the Jaffna sector

14 The decision to disarm LTTE by use of force was taken on 9th October, 1987. On the night of 9th and 10th October, 1987, operations were launched by the IPKF to capture the LTTE radio station at Tavadi and TV station at Kokkuvil, the printing presses of two LTTE sponsored newspapers were destroyed. This led to LTTE inspired demonstrations by civil organisations and the LTTE indulged in the following offensive actions against the IPKF :

(a) Automatic and Mortar fire on IPKF post at Tellipallai;

(b) Ambush of CRPF convoy near Tellipallai (four jawans killed);

(c) Hijacking of 10 Para Commandos jeep and killing of all five occupants;

Large scale operations to capture and clear LTTE from the Jaffna Peninsula were launched from 11th October, 1987, in phases, so as to capture Jaffna town, clear Jaffna area, Vadamarachchi area and the remaining areas.

After about a fortnight of active operations, control of Jaffna was wrested from the LTTE forcing its cadres to flee into the Vanni Jungles.

On 5th November, 1987, a fresh directive for the subsequent phase of operations was issued to the IPKF from the Army Hq. and in November-December, 1987, operations to further degrade the LTTE potential continued. The overall situation at this stage was that the IPKF was in full control of Jaffna Peninsula. It was not in complete position of Central districts of Vavuniya, Mannar, Killinochchi and Mullaitivu. The assessment of the Indian High Commission at this point was that IPKF had completed the major portion of its task and the LTTE could be militarily neutralised in another eight to ten weeks provided it did not get financial and other warlike assistance from Tamil Nadu.

The Indian High Commission stated that President Jayawardene was no longer inclined to appoint an interim Administrative Council with LTTE representation and might pull back from his commitments if India decided to recommence dialogue with the LTTE. However, the supply of arms and assistance through Tamil Nadu to the LTTE continued and it became apparent that LTTE would continue the fight till it was able to salvage a face saving agreement. A 3-day unilateral ceasefire declared by the IPKF from 20th November onwards drew no response from the LTTE.

IPKF Operations Jan 88 to Sep 89 - General

15 Along with the proposal to hold elections in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, it was decided to induct additional troops to augment the force level in the Island for creating the requisite order and environment for holding of elections. During this period, operations of varying intensities continued against the LTTE in all the sectors except for a period of 10 days from 15th September to 25th September, 1988 when a unilateral ceasefire was declared by the IPKF in the hope that the LTTE would come forward and join the democratic process by participating in the elections.

Operations in Jaffna sector

15.1 After the initial battle for Jaffna town and clearance of the Peninsula, operations in the Jaffna sector were mainly confined to low level counter insurgency operations. The areas remained under IPKF's effective control barring a few stray incidents of IED blasts and exchange of fire. One major incident was the ambush of the IPKF patrol (2.8.1989) in the market place of VVT by the LTTE.

Operations in Vavuniya sector

15.2 After the IPKF assumed control of the Jaffna Peninsula, the militants retreated into their hideouts in the jungles of Vavuniya. Over a period of time, the LTTE militants re-activated and re- established a large number of camps in the jungles. This sector strategically and geographically acts as a pivot for any move from North to South or East to West. By the end of December 1987, the LTTE had started extorting taxes and revenue from vehicle owners as well as from towns and villages. Because of the low density of population, dense jungles and intimate knowledge of terrain, the LTTE were generally able to withstand the operations of the IPKF. The Vavuniya sector remained the most active sector throughout and the IPKF casualties in this area were the highest after the casualties suffered during the initial operations in Jaffna. The LTTE also managed to carry out a large number of successful ambushes against the IPKF patrols.

Operations in Trincomalee sector

15.3 The thrust of the operations was on cordon and search, raids and ambushes and to disarm and gain ascendancy over the militants. The operations were generally conducted at company and battalion level. The long coastline of Trincomalee district was being used by the LTTE for carrying out coastal hopping for move of arms and militants. The Formation, therefore, concentrated on launching numerous and frequent small scale operations based on hard intelligence. The only major operation was launched in September 1989 on receipt of information regarding a large number of camps in the area North East of Trincomalee. The brigade sized operation lasted from 12th September to 16th September and the Formation has claimed 40 militants killed and 228 wounded during the operations. Barring this, no major operation was launched by the IPKF in this sector. However, the LTTE continued its tactics of ambushing convoys and patrols of the IPKF whenever the opportunity arose. 

Operations in Batticaloa sector

15.4 This sector consisted of the districts of Batticaloa and Amparai. The population in this sector was a volatile mix of Tamils, Sinhalas and Muslims. The operations in this sector were therefore so orchestrated that a stronghold of Batticaloa town was maintained to prevent it from becoming a 'little Jaffna". The other priority was the destruction of Beirut base which housed a large number of LTTE camps. In the initial stages, i.e. early 1988, a large number of small scale operations were launched to flush the militants out. The operations were very successful and a large number of militants were killed/captured and a sizeable quantity of arms and ammunition recovered. As a consequence, by end of July, 1988, near normalcy prevailed in the entire sector and the area remained under firm control of the IPKF but for minor incidents. Towards the middle of 1989, the LTTE in collusion with the Sri Lankan Army, made strenuous attempts to engineer communal violence in Muslim dominated areas of the Sector such as Kulmunai and Samanturai. However, due to effective control measures and cordon and search operations, the situation remained under control.

Due to the consistent intransigent attitude of the LTTE, its violence against the innocent civilian population forced the IPKF to resort to force and exercise the military options. At its peak, a total of 54,802 IPKF personnel were inducted in Sri Lanka.

In the resultant clashes, there were heavy losses of life on both sides i.e. IPKF and the LTTE. IPKF lost a total of 1165 with 3011 wounded. LTTE cadres killed were 2610, with 773 cadres injured and the LTTE persons apprehended were 1115 and the total weapons captured were 1573. In order to set on the democratic process, the IPKF organised elections on November 19, 1988. The candidates of EPRLF and ENDLF were elected unopposed in the Northern Province.

Expansion of the IPKF mandate

15.5 In the post-Agreement period, serious intra- military clashes took place. The mandate of the IPKF was expanded to include :

(a) Additional responsibility of disarming the militants;

(b) Assisting in the maintenance of law and order;

(c) Improvement in law and order situation in the North Eastern Province;

(d) Restoration and resumption of normal functioning of govt. and financial institutions and restoration of essential services;

(e) Re-settlement of Tamils displaced within the Island;

(f) Provision of security to candidates, polling stations, booths and polling staff during the elections to the North Eastern Provincial Council and the Presidential elections held in November-December, 1988 respectively.

Within a short time, the IPKF was to restore normalcy in the Province and ensuring the functioning of educational institutions, hospitals, banks,post and telegraph facilities, electricity services, transport etc.

Organisation of the Town Commandant, Jaffna

15.6 The IPKF set up an organisation by the name 'Town Commandant, Jaffna' headed by a Brigadier. This organisation was created in October, 1987. The immediate tasks, which were undertaken by the Town Commandant, were :

i. Resettlement of displaced persons within the island;

ii. Provision and distribution of civil supplies;

iii. Restoration of electricity and water supplies;

iv. Medical aid for civilian population in each Divisional Hq.

v. Civil Affairs Cell.

The Civil Affairs Cell was created to look after the multi-farious civil affair problems in the respective areas. The major tasks performed at the Civil Affairs Cell were :

i. Assist the local Civil Administration in the effective functioning;

ii. Restoration of public utility services;

iii. To facilitate operation of transport services, food and civil supplies, banking, education, medical services and reconstruction activities;

iv. Receive public grievances, assist in their solution through the local citizens' committees, government agencies etc.;

v. Planning and undertaking reconstruction and rehabilitation activities and handling of funds for the same.

vi. Management of refugees and displaced persons.

Between December 1987 and March 1989, over 25,000 refugees were repatriated. IPKF was responsible for providing security and necessary assistance for the management of these refugees on arrival in the island. The IPKF also provided assistance in settling approximately four lakh displaced persons within the North Eastern Province.



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