India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam
Gandhi's War Crimes
நெற்றிக்கண் திறப்பினும் குற்றம் குற்றமே...உண்மைகள் ஒருபோதும் உறங்குவதில்லை, உறங்கவும்
Truth never sleeps - and it should not....
IPKF - Innocent People Killing Force
Dr. T. Somasekaram, Retd. Surveyor General
21 March 2004
"..the Indian Army came here,
massacred innocent Tamil civilians, raped our women and
plundered our valuables. The acronym IPKF will always
stand for Indian People Killing Force where we are
concerned.We will one day erect a memorial in the
heart of Jaffna town, in the centre of Hospital Road, in
memory of all the innocent civilians – ranging in age
from the very old past 80 to young children massacred by
the IPKF and to the women who were raped."
The simple fact of the matter is that a foreign country,
with designs of becoming a regional superpower, maneuvered
to send its Army here as Peace Keepers but massacred
thousands of innocent Tamil civilians, raped the women and
plundered valuables.If memorials are to be erected, then it
should be for innocent civilians massacred by the IPKF.
Let me provide a FEW samples from my personal knowledge.
These represent but the tip of an iceberg. I write as an
authentic son of Jaffna, born and bred there, educated at
Jaffna Hindu College and the only house my wife and I own is
Civilians Massacred by IPKF
Jaffna Hospital :- Doctors, Nurses and Patients inside the
Jaffna Teaching Hospital, numbering 68 in all. .Their names
are:- Dr A. Sivapathasuntheram, Dr M.K. Ganesharatnam, Dr
Parimelalahar, Mrs Vadivelu, Matron, Mrs Leelawathie, Nurse,
Mrs Sivapakiam, Nurse, Mrs Ramanathan, Nurse, Mr
Shanmugalingam, Ambulance Driver, Mr Kanagalingam, Telephone
Operator, Mr Krishnarajah, Works Supervisor, Mr Selvarajah,
Works Supervisor, Eleven (11) Minor employees and forty six
Duraiswamy brothers :- Two sons of late Sir Waithialingam
Duraiswamy, Speaker of the State Council, residing in their
ancestral home next to the Jaffna Clock Tower. One was R.
Duraiswamy (SLAS) Retd. Secretary. Ministry of Local
Government and M. Duraiwswamy Retd. Staff Officer Bank of
Mr. S. Sivasubramaniam, retired
Director of Irrigation, Mrs. Sivasubramaniam, his retired
teacher wife and their only son, a brilliant boy who had
studied at St. John’s College, Jaffna, scored 4A’s in the
GCE(Al) and was in the second year of Medical College.
Other Civilians Killed in Jaffna:- Prof. P. Chandrasekeram,
University of Jaffna, Dr R.W. Crossette Thambiah, Dr
Selvaratnam Former DMO Maskeliya, Dr S. Pararajasingham
J.M.O, L.F.M. Samuel Rtd. Teacher (St. Thomas College, Mt.
Lavinia & Royal College), K.J. Sambanthar Retd. DLO & Asst.
Land Commissioner, Jaffna, Mrs S. Sivanandaraja (mother),
Mohanraj (son) Technical Officer, Irrigation .Dept, Mrs
Kishnam, Mrs M. Sebastiampillai, Mrs N.R. Thuriappa, Mrs V.
Ruthiralingam, C.S. Aaron .
Urumpirai:- A. Subramanium Attorney at Law, Mr & Mrs
Pancharatnam, Rtd. Teachers, K. Navaratnam Rtd. Divisional
Supdt. of Post Offices, S. Nadarajah, Formerly SLBC, Tamil
Service, P. Arooran , M. Nadaraja, S. Rasanayagam Rtd.
Credit Controller CCC Ltd.
Anaikoddai :- Mrs M. Weerasegaram Pillai, (Mother), Pillai
Yasotha Weerasegaram (Daughter), Mrs S. Thanapalasingham
(Mother) Miss N. Thanapalasingham (Daughter) S.
Kulasegerampillai, Retd. Station Master, Mrs M. Arumugam
.Mrs R. Gnanamuttu , A. Candappu Rtd. State Officer, S.
Pirampadi, Kokuvil etc:- A large number of civilians were
killed in Pirampadi and Kokuvil and buried in mass graves.
The whole matter requires a book to do full justice.
Ariyalai (my village)
Ariyalai is at the eastern end of Jaffna town and the A9
highway passes through it. This was one of the four routes
the Indian Army took to enter and capture Jaffna. From Oct
10, 1987, we, living in Dehiwala, lost all contact with our
relatives who lived in Ariyalai, among them my wife’s 71
year old mother, her sisters and their children, my close
friends from my boyhood days in Jaffna. For twenty one (21)
days, there was a continuous curfew imposed by the IPKF with
half an hours notice. The local and foreign media were
completely cut off from the scene of operations and terrible
things – yes, I use words carefully, TERRIBLE THINGS, were
done to the Tamils in Jaffna. Rumours were rife. The
militants said 30,000 civilians were killed. But I searched
for reliable evidence, and these started trickling in, from
late October 1987.
One reliable class of evidence is the number of persons
known to me personally, quite a number are blood relatives,
who were killed. Among those killed were a 45 year old
cousin brother, S. Shanmugasuntharam, Electrician, Jaffna
Municipal Council, married, with two children, shot while
going to his paddy field in East Ariyalai. No one could
reach the body; jackals and dogs ate the flesh and his
brother Sinnathurai told me that the limbs and other parts
were in different part of the paddy field and he gathered
them and buried them in the paddy field. Sinnathurai had
wept tears of a different sort in 1981 when he told me what
he found on the day following the burning of the Jaffna
Library, where he worked as an Assistant Librarian. But let
us remain focussed on the IPKF in this article.
An 84 year old uncle, S. Thambiah, father of the well known
Journalist T. Sabaratnam, was killed inside his home by an
Indian artillery shell. His daughter Pathma and
grandchildren had taken refuge inside Ariyalai Sri
Sithivinayagar temple and were unaware of what had happened.
One of my childhood classmates, Poologasingam, who lived
nearby and had also not gone to the temple as a refugee,
discovered what had happened, cut a pit in the garden, put
my uncle in a sack and buried him there. No last rites; no
cremation. Poologasingam went near the temple and shouted,
"Pillai Pathma, Appah Vaikundam poddar; naan thevai
yathanich seythu poddan” (Child Pathma, your father has gone
to heaven; I have done what was necessary).
My cousin Sabaratnam’s loss did not stop with his father.
His mother in law, 80 year old Mrs. Thambimuttu was a
refugee inside the temple. But an old lady cannot easily
adjust to conditions inside a tightly packed temple – and
Hindu temples do not have toilet facilities, as devotees are
expected to come in a ‘clean’ state. So she went to her home
within 250 metres of the temple for her morning ablutions.
She was walking back feebly, with the aid of a walking stick
and holding a flickering lamp, and was within 50 metres of
the temple when she was shot dead by the Indian soldiers,
from Sri Parwathi Vidyasalai which they were occupying. They
discovered who they had killed and set fire to the body
where it lay, using a tyre. She and my late mother Mrs.
Saraswathy Thamotharam had been classmates in Chundikuli
Girls’s College, Jaffna. She had been a source of comfort to
my mother when we lost our father when mother was 28 years
old and had to face the grim prospect of feeding, clothing
and educating my brother (7 yrs) and myself (2 yrs), with
not even a pension as father had served for less than 10
years. I felt so deeply about her loss that I ventured into
The Gentle Old Aachi
The gentle old aachi,
Weak and wobbly with age,
Walking with her pollu,
Slowly to the temple.
Husband gone long before,
Children retired or about to,
Grandchildren in their prime,
Great grandchildren by the dozen.
Weak of eye, weak of limb,
Fond memories of yester year,
Longing to meet her God,
Slowly walking to his abode.
Om Ganesha!, What hit me?
What burning pain,
What great thirst,
She writhed briefly on the road,
And then lay still,
White saree bathed in blood.
The gentle old aachi,
Felled by an alien bullet,
Fired by an alien hand,
In this our free land,
The gentle old aachi,
Shot like a dog and burnt at the spot.
More than our relatives, we mourn the death of the elder
son of the chief priest of our temple, Subramaniya Kurukkal.
Young Kannan Iyer, 24 years old, very fair, very handsome,
well versed in Hindu neethi and also a fully qualified
Accountant, was managing his own Accounting firm in Jaffna
and assisting his father in carrying out the temple duties.
He told his father on Deepavali Day in Oct 1987, when the
father was getting ready to go to the temple to open the
inner sanctum and light the lamps inside, to stay at home
and that he would go by bicycle by a circuitous route to the
temple to light the lamps. The inner sanctum had not been
opened or lit after the influx of refugees. Only Brahmin
priests can enter the inner sanctum. Instead of going to the
temple, he went to heaven.
If anyone is interested, I shall take him or her to speak to
Kannan Iyer’s mother. His father, the chief priest of our
temple, performed the ancient Hindu marriage ceremony for me
and my wife in 1962. He repeated it for our elder daughter
and son-in-law in 1982. He is a learned and pious man and he
has the spiritual resources to withstand the loss of his
elder son. But tears flowed down the cheeks of his wife for
the entire 45 minutes we spent with them in March 1988, five
months after the joy of their life was snuffed out by the
Indian army. To me, this is the worst crime of the IPKF
assault on Jaffna. The life of a young and brilliant Brahmin
priest, who would have risen to great heights promoting
Saivaism, was snuffed out wantonly – and this on Deepavali
day when he set out to open the sanctum sanctorum and light
a lamp inside the temple.
Twenty six persons lost their lives in my village alone,
during the Indian army’s campaign to gain control of Jaffna
Peninsula in October-November 1987.
The IPKF Operation in Jaffna did not stop with massacres of
civilians. A large number of women were raped. The following
quotation is taken from Prof Daya Somasundaram’s book
Scarred Minds – The Psychological Impact of War on Sri
Lankan Tamils. Prof Daya Somasundaram is the Professor of
Psychiatry in the University of Jaffna and concurrently
Consultant Psychiatrist, General (Teaching Hospital) Jaffna.
He was one of the four authors of the book, Broken Palmyrah,
which was critical of the LTTE, a co-author of Mental Health
in Cambodia, where he served as a Consultant Psychiatrist.
"Rape by Indian Soldiers
From time immemorial, plunder and rape have been
considered the spoils of war. A form of ‘psychopathic
liberation’ resulting in looting, rape and heavy
drinking is reported to follow major stressful events
(Kinston and Rosser, 1974). Although the total number of
rapes during the Indian army operations are not known,
it seemed to reach epidemic proportions. It has been
verified that quite a large number, ranging from young
girls who had just attained puberty to old women well
past the menopause stage, were brutally raped.
What is said about violence in general is applicable to
sexual violence. However, aggressive sexual assault has
its own unique characteristics and consequences. Thus,
Rape is a violent crime in which sexuality is
used to express power, anger and aggression, with a
core meaning of devaluation, humiliation, sheer
terror and most intimate violation of the self for
the victim. What is translated to the victim is the
life-threatening nature of assault, her
helplessness, her loss of control and her experience
of herself as an object of the assailants’ rage
Rape became common in the context of total war as it
obtained in the months of October to December (1987),
when all the customary discipline and restraint
operative in the army disappeared. As discussed earlier,
there appears to have been a policy decision to apply
terror in the face of early losses and frustration over
the prolongation of the conflict. The public was seen as
being too sympathetic to the Tigers, harbouring and
helping them against the Indian army. Thus terror became
an instrument of control, a punishment for the lack of
support and a lesson to the public. The army
hierarchical structure worked to allow the jawans to
carry out the acts on their behalf, although at times
lower-rank officers also vented their pent up
frustration in this way. But rape was much more gruesome
as it was aimed specifically at women. It was carried
out with considerable brutality and impersonality, where
the victims were publicly defeminised and destroyed.
Rape can be seen as a loss-event for the victim where
she loses her trust in others, self-respect, sense of
security, chastity and virginity, social identity and
becomes liable to secondary victimization due to social
norms and values. The psychological reactions to rape
have been described as a three-stage phenomena with an
initial state of ‘shock and disbelief’ with disruption
of normal behaviour. This may be followed by feelings of
guilt, self-blame, and physical complaints. If the
resolution to the psychological trauma is incomplete,
long-term consequences include depression (40 per cent
of victims), psychosomatic problems, sexual dysfunction,
specific rape-related phobias, impaired task
performance, social maladjustment and risk of suicide
attempts (Mezey, 1985).
In our cultural setting, sexual violence takes on a more
serious significance and has a severe psychologically
traumatizing effect on the victim and her close
relations, including her husband. Chastity is
traditionally considered one of the supreme virtues of
women, to be safeguarded with the same diligence as
their life. The screams and pleading of a young,
attractive girl, whom three soldiers were trying to rape
at gun point, still echoes in my ears. She fell at their
feet and begged, ‘Please, brother, shoot me, but don’t
do this…’ Fortunately for her, her pleading got through
to an officer who took pity and let her go, after
slapping her. A young rape victim in Tinnavelly
immediately attempted to commit suicide by jumping into
Loss of virginity in a young girl even if against her
will, meant that she could not aspire to marriage in our
society and if already married, there is a good chance
that she will be abandoned. All rape victims are
socially ostracized and this usually extends to the
family also. It is not surprising that rape victims were
not forthcoming to report such incidents and usually
swallowed the suffering and injury silently.
These incidents of rape, the lack of protection for
women and the rumours that spread, created great fear
among the women of Jaffna. The threat to womanhood was
very real in the months of October and November. Most
women experienced sexual anxiety and felt exposed and
vulnerable. Many fled to areas they felt were safe, a
large exodus reaching Colombo in December, when
transport became available. Those left behind started
acting with circumspection by following the well-meant
advice of sympathetic, Tamil-speaking jawans of ‘wearing
saris, putting poddus and staying indoors’.
At the beginning, there was lack of action by the
commanders, probably because they had to maintain troop
morale in a difficult situation during the first two
months and rape itself became part of army action.
Later, disciplinary action was taken with identification
parades and punishment, usually in the form of public
thrashing and transfer to another unit. After December
the jawans were more discreet and circumspect. By 1988,
the higher authorities showed much sensitivity to the
issue of rape, probably due to the wide publicity
outside Jaffna. They even brought in female police and
paramilitary to ally the fears of local women.
The public outcry and wide publicity of this aspect of
the Indians’ occupation that gained momentum from
December reflected the deep-rooted feeling of insecurity
and the cultural significance of this threat to our
This ends the quotation from Prof Daya Somasundaram’s
book. But there was other evidence as well.
Inside Ariyalai Temple Inside our village temple, Ariyalai
Sri Sithi Vinayagar Kovil, where people had gathered as
refugees, young village girls were molested by the Indian
soldiers inside the temple. Dr. W. Paramanathan, great
grandson of Proctor V. Casipillai who had rebuilt the temple
in 1900, after its destruction during the Portugese
occupation, was an eye witness. “My blood boiled; but I was
helpless” he told me. In fact, being a young man, he was
taken out twice to be shot as a Tiger and only the strong
pleadings of his aunt Miss K. Charavanamuttu, retired
Principal of Vadamarachchy Hindu Ladies College saved his
life. Dr. Paramanathan has migrated to the United States and
is living there.
The 21 day curfew proved to be a golden opportunity - in a
real golden sense – to the Indian soldiers. They broke into
every house, broke open every almyrah and stole the
valuables inside. As everyone knows, all Jaffna Tamil Hindu
women wear a lot of gold jewellery. When they had to flee at
half an hour’s notice, they could not remove all their
valuables. When the families returned, they found their gold
jewellery, imported watches and Parker pens missing. In
1987, India was still a closed economy and these imported
items were not available in India. Not merely the soldiers,
even the officers helped themselves. This is what the Island
of 22 Feb 1988 reported.
"IPKF Major Returning to India Apprehended - Alleged
A Major of the IPKF who is said to have returned to India
from Jaffna on a month’s holiday is alleged to have been
apprehended at Chandigarh airport with having carried
jewellery believed to be contraband.
A news report appearing in the 'Rani Weekly' of January 31,
1988 published in Tamil Nadu state that this Major serving
in Jaffna had flown to Madras by plane and then to
Chandigarh in Punjab on a month’s holiday. The Police there
had searched him like any other passenger and found in his
possession “100 sovreigns of jewellery consisting of
bangles, broken chains, necklaces etc
The story states "The Police suspect that he might have
snatched them from Sri Lankan Tamils. But he says they were
bought by him. The magazine asks, If they were bought by
him, could the jewellery be broken in pieces?"
The behaviour of the Indian Army in Jaffna was so atrocious
that even Sinhalese politicians were moved to protest. After
all, we share this island home. Prime Minister R. Premadasa,
Minister of National Security Lalith Athulathmudali,
Minister of Rehabilitation Lionel Jayatilleke and Opposition
Leader Anura Bandaranaike condemned the atrocities in strong
language in Parliament on 21 Jan 1988. Please see Hansard
Vol 47, Section 14, Hansard Vol 50, Section 2 . In fact, the
Prime Minister spoke of a 79 year old woman having been
To summarise, the Indian Army came here, massacred innocent
Tamil civilians, raped our women and plundered our
valuables. The acronym IPKF will always stand for Indian
People Killing Force where we are concerned. I was
collecting this material to submit to the International
Criminal Court, when it was about to be set up.
Unfortunately, the crimes of the IPKF are time barred; the
Court considers only cases after it was set up in July 2002.
If not for this time bar, there is enough evidence against
the Indian Generals and others higher up to indict them
before the Court. Instead of facing the Court, they and
former High Commissioner Dixit are writing books and making
money out of the tragedy.
We will one day erect a memorial in the heart of Jaffna
town, in the centre of Hospital Road, in memory of all the
innocent civilians – ranging in age from the very old past
80 to young children massacred by the IPKF and to the women
who were raped.