On 27July 1975 the news of the assassination of former Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiappah had spread in the Peninsula like wildfire forecasting a darker era to unfold with untold misery.
Late Alfred Duraiappah who gave Jaffna a facelift with new infrastructure facilities remained a popular Mayor despite him being considered a ‘traitor’ in the Tamil political scene.
Although a Christian Duraiappah, who had married a niece of another political stalwart and legal luminary late G.G. Ponnampalam, a Hindu, had tremendous faith in Hinduism.
So it was on 27 July 1975 while he was coming out after worshipping the deity at the Varatharajaperumal Temple in Ponnalai, a hamlet which is in the Karainagar region, he was gunned down at point blank range by Veluppillai Prabhakaran who was a teenager at that time and known in his circle as ‘Thambi’ (brother).
It was nearly after fifteen years, in the early nineties, the LTTE Leader V. Prabhakaran admitted openly in his interview with TIME magazine that it was with the first shot he fired at Alfred Duraiappah he had kicked off his Eelam struggle.
The interview was done by TIME magazine’s Sri Lankan correspondent Kendall Hopman a senior Sri Lankan journalist.
The emergence of the separatist war in the North and the East had its ups and downs with several Tamil militant outfits flexing their muscles, with the slogan of Eelam.
The dominant militant outfit
Emerging as the dominant militant outfit by annihilating other militant organizations the LTTE was even considered as the sole power to fulfil the political aspirations of the people in the North and the East.
However, when the LTTE met its ‘waterloo’ on 18 May in Mullivaikal with the death of its leader V. Prabhakaran who had virtually created his own ’empire’ in the North with several successful attacks including the victory gained in overrunning the Elephant Pass military base, the outfit had hardly done anything to strengthen itself politically, right from the beginning, although it had engaged in the Thimpu talks in Bhutan in 1984.
It was with the collapse of the peace process facilitated by Norway in 2005, the vacuum that prevailed conspicuously on the political side of the outfit became very clear which even made the LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham to say before his death that Thambi (Prabhakaran) was going to get hammered from all sides.
The Eelam armed struggle intensifying from 1983 had led to the death of nearly 100,000 people including scores of Indian soldiers and former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi along with Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa.
The Eelam struggle which continued for three decades that was even considered as a ‘misguided missile’, remained catastrophic to the very people who were made to think by the LTTE that the outfit was their liberator.
With the last phase of the war being terribly destructive, the innocent civilians who had experienced the agony of all forms of terrifying conditions of the Eelam struggle facing internal displacements were pushed into a state of being ‘between devil and the deep blue sea’, when the LTTE was being cornered in Mullivaikal.
So the final phase of the Eelam war in 2009 leading to alleged war crimes with scores of deaths and involuntary disappearances, the first shot Prabhakaran fired at Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiappah to launch his Eelam struggle had only backfired devastating his Eelam dream as well as destroying the lives of thousands of people who were under his iron grip for nearly three decades.
Prabhakaran had once said in an interview that he was very happy when he got his first revolver. He even said that it was in a corroded state and later he had repaired it in a manner for him to be trigger happy.
With the LTTE establishing its network internationally, the outfit had created its beach head in the coastal areas of Nanthikadal and Mullivaikal in the Mullaitivu District to bring its arms and ammunitions from its ships in the international waters.
The funds collected abroad by the LTTE from the expatriate Lankan Tamils were immense which had even made the LTTE to become the first rebel group to have its sea and air wings to attack its enemy positions.
In the post-war period the foreign military experts who had visited the areas where the fierce battles had taken place were surprised to see the fast attack craft and other heavy weapons produced by the LTTE itself to target the enemy.
The LTTE leader claimed that he was overwhelmed when he got his first revolver though it was in a corroded state. However when the Eelam war came to an end on 18 May 2009, along with the recovery of the LTTE leader Prabhakaran’s body, soldiers were even surprised to see the arms and ammunitions found in the possession of the LTTE.
The top Generals of the Army had even said that some of the weapons they found in the possession of the LTTE were ultra modern and they were in perfect condition.
Last Thursday (18) a large number of civilians, gathered in Mullivaikal, the ‘waterloo’ of the LTTE, to mourn their kith and kin, who perished in the final phase of the war.
As far as the military exploits of the LTTE are concerned, the first shot fired by Prabhakaran on 27 July 1975 in Ponnalai, Jaffna to commence the Eelam struggle has now gone down in history after three decades as a ‘backfired armed struggle’ to be remembered forever.