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The first Tamil militant to die for the Tamil Eelam cause
- 5 June 1974
Sivakumaran Statute in Urumpirai, 2004
....In 1970, Ponnudorai Satyaseelan founded the Tamil Manavar Peravai ( Tamil Students League), which was joined by Sivakumaran. Bandaranaike had in the meanwhile begun to take a hard line towards Tamils, cutting off foreign exchange for Tamil students going to India for higher studies, banning the import of Tamil films, books and Magazines from Tamil Nadu, and proscribing the small Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party in Jaffna.
The formation of Tamil United Front in 1972 led to the Tamil Elaingyar Peravia (TYL, Tamil Youth League) in January 1973. It was founded by some 40 youths, many of whom subsequently were in the forefront militant movement. The TYL drew support from Thangathurai, the TELO leader.
Satyaseelan's arrest in February 1973 set off the second round of mass arrests in Jaffna and virtually crippled the TYL as well as the older Tamil Students League. Several young men languished in prison until 1977, although some gained amnesty on the eve of the Kankesanthurai by-election in 1975.
By then two developments had occurred in the Indian subcontinent which had a bearing on the Tamils. One was the JVP insurrection which was stamped out. The second was the India Pakistan war which led to the birth of Bangladesh. Both events took place in 1971. The JVP was never popular among Tamils, although it did have marginal support in Jaffna.
In 1973, the Sri Lankan navy seized a boat belonging to Kuttimani filled with dynamite. Kuttimani fled to India, but was arrested and deported from Tamil Nadu to face a Sri Lankan prison sentence. Tamil Nadu was then governed by M.Karunanithi's DMK party.
Jaffna witnessed its first case of death by cyanide poisoning the next year. Sivakumaran had been lying low for a while, but took an active interest in the 1974 International Tamil Conference in Jaffna. He had been influenced by his parents' pro-Federal Party views. He studied at Urumpirai Hindu College- which was to several recruits to the Eelam campaign- up to the advanced level, majoring in Chemistry. He is the only one among the Tamils of that era who is remembered fondly even today by everyone.
He was a very sensitive person. He believed that despite the need for militancy, the Federal Party was important and often compared Chelvanayagam with Mahatma Gandhi and the boys with Subash Chandra Bose. He was a restless character. He would discuss all night, emphasising the need for an armed struggle.
Since breaking off from Thangathurai, Sivakumaran had set up his group, which came to be known as the Sivakumaran's group. The 1972 & 1973 mass arrests had slowed down his pace. His contemporaries say he was a shattered man after the Tamil Conference fiasco. He had worked for its success, and it pained him that nine people died for no fault of theirs. Since then he had passionately advocated vengeance-against Duraiyapah, the Mayor, and a Sinhalese police officer he held responsible for the deaths.
On June 5, 1974, Sivakumaran was trapped by the police.... He was 17 yrs of age and knowing about police torture if he were caught, he used to carry a cyanide pill. On that day he swallowed it without so much as an afterthought and died almost instantly. Thus was born Tamil Eelam's cyanide culture.
Hundreds thronged Sivakumaran's funeral. All shops in Jaffna downed their shutters in mourning and hundreds of pamphlets were distributed in the town and its outskirts, eulogising the martyr as Eelam's Bhagat Singh. At the funeral, several TYL members slashed their fingers and with the blood that dripped placed dots on their foreheads, pledging collectively to continue the fight for an independent state. Tamils later put up a bronze statue outside Jaffna in the memory of the young man - it showed a defiant youth, his clinched fist out stretched and dangling a broken chain.