T. Sabaratnam on Shankar
"Rajani, who was on the verandah of the main house, saw the army jeep
entering their compound. She ran through the house to the back door and shouted,
�Nirmala Akka, army jeep is coming.�
She warned her elder sister because she knew an LTTE fighter, Shankar, was
in her house. Shankar had gone to Nirmala�s house to convey the message Seelan
had sent from Tamil Nadu that he had reached India safely. Nirmala insisted that
Shankar should have lunch. �Today I have cooked chicken. You must taste it and
say whether it is tastier than your leader�s (Pirapaharan�s) preparation,� she
said. Seelan had told her repeatedly that Pirapaharan�s chicken curry was
�tops.� Nirmala served two pieces of chicken and Shankar was biting the first
piece when Rajani shouted about the arrival of the army jeep.
Shankar slipped through the back door and ran towards the rear wall and the
commando who ran to seal off the back entrance of Nirmala�s house fired at him.
Shankar was hit in the stomach. Holding the bleeding stomach tightly Shankar ran
nearly three kilometers to reach a safe-house where he handed his revolver to
his comrades and collapsed due to excessive loss of blood, thus avoiding capture
by the army and saving the weapon, both priority items in the LTTE�s code of
conduct. Shankar�s condition deteriorated fast and his senior colleague, Anton,
undertook the perilous task of taking him to Tamil Nadu by boat. Anton took
Shankar to Kodaikarai, one of the landing points of Tamil militants on the Tamil
Nadu coast, kept him in a safe-house and arranged for a doctor to attend on him.
Anton rushed to Madurai to arrange for his treatment, then he took Shankar to
a private hospital in Madurai. Doctors there declared that his condition was too
serious. Pirapaharan, who was in one of the LTTE training camps, was informed.
He returned immediately.
Baby Subramaniam, who was at the hospital when Pirapaharan walked in, called
the occasion poignant. Pirapaharan was highly emotional, he said. Pirapaharan,
took Shankar�s hands into his, lifted them and pressed his cheeks on them. He
put them back softly, went and sat near Shankar�s head and took it to his lap.
Then he gently stroked Shankar�s hair. Shankar looked up. He seemed to have
realized that his leader had arrived. He started muttering �Thamby. Thamby.
Thamby�� Pirapaharan was �Thamby� (younger brother) to all, even to those
younger to him. Shankar was six years younger.
Nedumaran was another who witnessed that moving scene. He has given a
graphic description of that event in many interviews. In one interview he said,
�They kept gazing at each other. It was impossible to guess what was going on in
their minds. Pirapaharan kept looking at him intently, as if he was silently
pleading with him not to go away.�
Pirapaharan was visibly shaken. He was seeing the death of one of his cadres
for the first time. A 22-year old youth, blossoming into manhood, was dying
sacrificing his life for the sake of the honour and dignity of his nation. Tears
rolled down Pirapaharan�s plump cheeks. The flame of life in Shankar gradually
Shankar, who was reading the Russian novel One True Man�s Story when he set
out to Nirmala�s house at Nallur on that 20 November morning died after seven
days of agony on 27 November, the day which has become a day of remembrance of
valour and self-sacrifice for the cause of freedom of the Tamil Nation and the
man, Shankar, became another �One True Man�s Story� of courage. Shankar�s death
was not announced publicly.
Pirapaharan felt the announcement of the death would encourage the army and
the police to hunt the militants. The LTTE then was a tiny organization. It had
not more than 30 cadres. Announcement of Shankar�s death would demoralize the
Tamil public and discourage youths from joining it. Shankar�s father was
informed, however. His father, Selvachandran Master, told me that two �Tiger
boys� had visited him one night and told him about his son�s death.
The LTTE announced Shankar�s death on his first death anniversary. Jaffna�s
walls were plastered with his photograph. Leaflets giving details about his life
and exploits were distributed. "