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Sri Lanka's Deputy Defence Minister Ranjan Wijeratne
15 August 1990
Sri Lanka's Deputy Defence Minister, Ranjan Wijeratne, is a brave man who never does anything in half measures. On the 18th of June 1990, he declared in the Sri Lankan Parliament, to the cheers of his Sinhala compatriots:
Mr.Ranjan Wijeratne's cheering Sinhala 'cohorts' must have had visions of a shoot out between their head hunting Deputy Minister and Mr. Velupillai Pirabaharan. Some of them, who had heard that Mr.Pirabaharan practises shooting in the early hours of the morning of each day, may have had doubts about their Defence Minister's ability to hold his own. But Mr.Ranjan Wijeratne was quick to reassure them and, perhaps, himself as well. He said, albeit, a trifle defensively:
Deputy Minister Wijeratne was as god fearing as he was brave and he sought to comfort himself and his Sinhala listeners with the thought that Mr.Pirabaharan was not a divine being who had come from the heavens.
Mr.Pirabaharan was only a human being and the Deputy Minister assured his audience that 'we will deal with him' though he did not spell out the specifics of the 'dealing' that he had in mind. Mr.Wijeratne's reticence was, ofcourse, understandable.
Be that as it may, it would be unwise, to dismiss Mr.Ranjan Wijeratne's outburst as that of a political novice who had momentarily lost his temper. Deputy Minister Wijeratne's jingoism also surfaced in a written answer tabled in the Sri Lankan Parliament - a written answer which presumably reflected the considered response of the Sri Lankan government headed by President Ranasinghe Premadasa. Mr.Wijeratne stated:
The brave Mr.Wijeratne was clearly enjoying himself and in an interview with India Today reported on the 15th of July, when he was asked whether he was underestimating the LTTE, the perceptive Deputy Minister replied:
It seems that Deputy Minister Wijeratne was unable to rid himself of a certain fascination for the pants of those whom he described as the 'baby brigade'. But lest his listeners thought his jingoism was worse than his bite, Mr. Wijeratne was at pains to establish his credentials as a man of action. He referred, with becoming modesty, to his own track record as the man who 'finished' the JVP:
And so, it appears that Mr.Ranjan Wijeratne will not only 'flatten' the LTTE, but that he will also 'finish' it; that he will not only make the LTTE 'wet their pants', but that he will also make them 'run without their pants'; and that he will not only 'go for their leaders' but that he will also challenge guerilla leaders to come out in the open so that he may go for them.
But then we must take Mr.Ranjan Wijeratne seriously - after all he is the Deputy Defence Minister of Sri Lanka and he is a brave man who never does anything in half measures.
Furthermore, the brave, modest and god fearing Mr.Wijeratne was in no mood to compromise. He declared to his cheering Sinhala 'cohorts':
And what, pray, is this 'nonsense' which Mr.Wijeratne wants the LTTE to stop? The 'nonsense' which the LTTE must stop is its struggle for the recognition of the existence of the Tamil nation in Eelam.
To the leaders of a Sinhala nation which seeks to masquerade as the 'Sri Lankan nation', it makes no sense to stop the masquerade and face up to the political reality that there exists in the Island of Sri Lanka two nations - the Tamil nation and the Sinhala nation.
But Mr. Wijeratne and the government to which he belongs will learn, in the crucible of hard experience, that the ultimate nonsense is to refuse to accept that which already exists - the Tamil nation in Eelam. Mr.Wijeratne and the government to which he belongs will learn, by experience, that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are themselves but a manifestation of the stubborn will of the Tamils of Eelam to be equal and free.
The Sri Lankan government will learn by experience that stability will not come to Sri Lanka, or for that matter, to the Indian region, except on the basis of recognising the existential reality of the Tamil nation in Eelam and the political force that that nation generates and will continue to generate in the years to come. And, experience will prove to be a strict instructor.