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LankaWeb – POHOTTU AS USA' S PROXY Part 7A – Lankaweb

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KAMALIKA PIERIS

Why did the two JVP uprisings happen precisely in 1971 and 1987, asked commentators. The answer is that they were both linked to the Eelam war.

JVP insurgency and the Eelam Wars both started around the same time. The first JVP insurgency started in the south in 1971. LTTE activities also started in the 1970s.       The JVP activities are well documented. Here are the parallel activities of the LTTE for the same period.

Senior DIG (Retd) Edward Gunawardena pointed out that terrorism in the north started in the early 1970s. The militant youth groups in the north engaged in many criminal activities in that period. There were robberies of banks, co-operatives, petrol filling stations and also passenger bus collections. There were many bank robberies and attacks on businesses in Jaffna in the 1970s corroborated   General Cyril Ranatunge.

There were attacks on police stations in the north in the 1970s. 34 police stations in the north were attacked. Police officers including retired officers and police informants were brutally killed, said Gunawardena. LTTE   attacked police stations in the late 1970s said Gen.Ranatunga.

 A majority of the attacks on police stations in north were master-minded by the LTTE, observed Gamini Samaranayake. PLOT, TELO, EPRLF, EROS and other groups, also launched attacks on police stations. Large guerrilla units numbering between 50 to 250 participated in these attacks, added Gamini.

Police informers were also killed in the north, said Gamini. The guerrillas branded informants as traitors to the Tamil cause for an independent state. These killings came to be known as `lamp post’ killings because most of the victims were tied to lamp posts before they were executed. A note was pinned to each of the bodies identifying them as collaborators.

Edward Gunawardena  observed that In May 1972, militant youths tried to topple a key high-tension electricity tower and also kidnap the children of a Tamil cabinet minister, Chelliah Kumarasuriyar.( Island 18.7.21 p 12  ) in 1975 Alfred Duraiappah was assassinated by a group which included  Prabhakaran.. Duraiappah had a significant vote bank among the Sinhalese, Muslims, the business community and the urban poor of Jaffna.

LTTE and JVP left each other alone. JVP had avoided mobilizing youth from Tamil villages, observed K.C.Logeswaran. JVP never killed a single Tamil or Indian soldier, said Chandraprema.  There is not a single confirmed account of a JVP attack on the LTTE or IPKF. JVP instead, used their arms on the Security forces, and on the JVP’s Sinhala opponents. JVP killed more Sinhalese than the LTTE he said. JVP only killed in Sinhala areas. 

The 1971 insurgency affected all districts except those in the north and east. JVP attacked police stations in the entire country except in the north and east.  JVP attacked 92 police stations.   They were all in ‘Sinhala’ areas, said Indradasa Godahewa.  In Vavuniya, JVP had penetrated deep into Vavuniya south which was Sinhala. Vavuniya south was a part of the 1971 insurgency.

There is evidence to show that the JVP was actively collaborating with the LTTE to chase the Sinhalese out, said Chandraprema.  The JVP, though armed, never tried to defend the Sinhalese, in the border villages, he said.  There was evidence to show that JVP was supporting the separatist Tamils, agreed   Godahewa.

There were allegations in 1987 that JVP was in collusion with LTTE in Trincomalee. This appears to be correct, said Chandraprema. There was an instance when an armed JVP contingent had met an LTTE contingent in the Trincomalee jungles and JVP warned the LTTE not to proceed as the army was in that area. 

In December 1987, JVP had entered Sinhala settlements in Aluth oya where settlers were armed, threatened them and took away 20 shot guns.    Sinhala refugees from Trincomalee, escaping after an attack on their village, said they were absolutely certain that their attackers were Sinhala. One had shouted obscenities in perfect Sinhala which showed that he was Sinhala not Tamil. 

LTTE reciprocated. No member of the JVP was ever harmed when the LTTE attacked Sinhalese, said Chandraprema. JVP had   established JVP cells in the Sinhala border villages   by the end of 1987. When LTTE swooped down on a Sinhala village they avoided going to the homes of JVP activists in the village.

JVP received training and ammunition from Jaffna. PLOTE and LTTE were reported to have sold weapons to the JVP.  The intention was to create a second front against the Sri Lankan armed forces.   EPRLF had provided training for JVP‘s Vikalpa Kandayama in north east Sri Lanka and in   India.  Gunaratna was told that they had received the training first and joined JVP after.

There may have been a transfer of explosion technology between the LTTE and JVP, as well, said doctoral researcher A.J. Behra.  JVP had used powerful land mines similar to those used in the north by the LITE. Intelligence reports had indicated that JVP was receiving regular supplies of explosives from overseas, he added.

 PLOTE had trained JVP in land mine attacks. The first was in 1988 at Kapparathota in Weligama electorate, said Shamindra Ferdinando. In 1989 PLOTE was seen in Akuressa training JVP in land mines, reported Chandraprema  An explosive expert from PLOTE had given JVP training in improvised land mines in the jungles between Matale and Batticaloa,  as well.

 The first landmine of JVP was the work of a PLOTE operator, said Gunaratna.  JVP   exploded its first experimental land mine in Kumbiyangoda in Matale.  A Tamil instructor had been present.  JVP carried out a series of land mine attacks.  Landmines in Weerawila and Hungama killed six policemen.

The JVP did not fade away after April 1971 as it would have done, had it been a purely local affair. Instead, JVP met secretly and reorganized.    They launched a second insurgency in 1987. The second JVP insurgency   of 1987-89 ran parallel to Eelam War 2.  Nalin de Silva pointed out that the JVP insurrection of the 1987-1992 period should also be investigated, not only the Eelam war.

The timing of the second JVP insurrection was significant.  1987 was the year of the Vadamarachchi campaign in Jaffna. This campaign, set for May and June, was certain to succeed. 1987 was also the year when JVP started its second insurgency in the south. The 1987-1989 JVP insurgencies forced the army to fight on two fronts, up in the north against the LTTE and down in the south against JVP. This, it was hoped, would enable the far weaker LTTE win the Eelam war.

In April 1987, JVP attacked Pallekelle Army camp in Kandy and took away a quantity of automatic weapons. A trained ex army man, led the operation. On June 7, 1987 three days after the Indian  parrippu air-drop of June 4, 1987,  the JVP’s Armed Wing, the Deshapremi Janatha Vyapaaraya  stormed the Katunayake Air Force Base and the Kotelawala Defence Academy, Ratmalana and seized 14, T-56 assault rifles, 53 sub-machine guns, two light machine guns, six pistols and 3,300 rounds of ammunition.

In October 1987 JVP attacked Kallar army camp in Trincomalee  and after a 20 minute gun battle,    took away a huge amount of weapons, including six T56 and three LMG spare barrels.  This was JVP‘s largest haul of weapons.  JVP attacked Kallar camp at the height of the IPKF sponsored LTTE attacks on Sinhala peasants in Trincomalee, observed Chandraprema.

In 1988, JVP attacked Katunayake air force base a second time and took away weapons and ammunition.  In the same year, JVP also attacked Pannala National Air Force training camp and the army training camp at Kumbukke in Horana. There was also an unsuccessful attack on Panagoda army camp.

JVP tried to ruin Sri Lanka‘s economy. JVP hit economic targets in Sinhala areas in 1971 and 1987.  A cotton processing factory had been set up in 1956 at Mirijjawila near Hambantota, to encourage cotton cultivators in Hambantota and Monaragala. During this period cotton was a popular crop in the Eastern part of Hambantota and Monaragala, and cotton was cultivated under rain-fed conditions. This factory functioned satisfactorily and it started processing their home grown cotton. It was set on fire in 1971. It was never re-started.   JVP burnt down 245 out of 545 agrarian service centers in the country along with paddy stocks and storage facilities in 1987-89.

Garvin Karunaratne, who was GA, Matara during the 1971 insurgency observed that the insurgency affected the economy of the south.  Many well to do people from the rural areas, immediately transferred themselves and their moveable possessions to the towns.

Thanks to the JVP, the well to do people in the rural areas, the estate owners, the rice millers, lorry owners and traders all left the rural areas for the cities.   In my subsequent visits to Matara I met many a rice miller and many a merchant who were the live wire in their rural habitat in Kamburupitiya, Hakmana etc. They had got rid of their rural possessions and migrated to the Matara town.

The development of the rural areas requires the services of every entrepreneur and entrepreneurs come from the rich families with enough money to invest. They are not in the rural areas now. That was the legacy left by JVP with their two insurrections, concluded Karunaratne.

 JVP also planned to eliminate the local administration at village level. In 1971 JVP killed government representatives in the village, such as grama sevaka, postmaster, station master, and co-op manager. The first killing took place in Tangalle. In 1987 insurgency, grama sevaka were not welcomed in the villages. In April 1989 an unprecedented number of government officials, grama sevaka, were killed, said Gunaratne.

JVP was firmly anti- Buddhist. Ven.Ellawela Medhananda was engaged in locating the ancient Buddhist monasteries in the north and east, despite objections from the LTTE .JVP set out to kill Ven. Medhananda. JVP’s Kirti Vijayabahu had sent Ven. Medhananda a letter threatening to kill him.  His temple also received a letter telling Medhananda and his assistant to leave the temple.  Medhananda had slept the night in the school, hidden in a mezzanine. JVP came to the school in the night and searched for him, while Medhananda watched fr0m his hiding place.

The very first attack on the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy, was by the JVP not the LTTE .JVP attacked the Dalada Maligawa, Kandy on 8 February 1989. Eyewitness accounts, including a former JVP member who took part in the attack, describe the incident in detail. Former JVP member, Adhikari alias Kosala, had participated in the attack. A fully-fledged member, Adhikari had received arms training, and participated in several operations on behalf of the party, including the 1987 Pallekelle Army camp attack, 1987 Bogambara prison attack and Digana bank heist. 

According to Adhikari, the first meeting to plan the attack was held at the house of a JVP co-ordinator named Sunanda, in Kandy. In that meeting, Sunanda explained the motivation behind the attack.  He said that if they stole the Tooth Relic, which had been residing in the country for at least 1,700 years, would have made the people to rise up against the government which couldn’t even protect the sacred property.

Next week, another meeting was held at the same place, with the presence of D.M. Ananda alias Kalu Ajith, the JVP leader of Western and Sabaragamuwa provinces, and Somawansa Amarasinghe alias Sanath, In that meeting, Adhikari proposed a place in Medamahanuwara, to hide the relic after getting hold of it. He was asked to be present near the Queen’s Hotel, Kandy around 2.00 – 2.30 pm the next day.

There Sarath, one of his colleagues in Digana bank heist, introduced him to 4 boys and 2 girls. The girls, dressed in white lama saris were carrying two trays filled with flowers. Adhikari’s task was to bring the group to the entrance to the Maligawa. There he would meet two gentlemen, who would be carrying pens attached to their pockets. After that he was to proceed to Kundasale where he would receive the casket which contained the tooth relic.

But the plan went wrong. The two girls had gone past the checkpoint near the entrance, without being properly searched, and waited for the others to follow. A guard had become suspicious and had come forward towards the girls. The other members of the group then arrived. They had snatched the guns hidden inside the flowers on the tray; and shot at the guards. Guards had returned fire. The following firefight left at least two attackers dead.

During the 2001 Parliamentary election, JVP denied that the JVP was involved in the attack. The politburo of the party issued a statement denying that the attack ever took place. These statements were rejected by the Diyawadana Nilame and Mahanayake theros of Malwatte and Asgiriya chapters .Diyawadana Nilame said “There was blood-letting at the Sri Dalada Maligawa and five persons were killed in the JVP attack”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Temple_of_the_Tooth_attack)

In the early 1970s JVP gave the impression that they were champions of the Sinhala race. This would have been done to capture Sinhala youth for the movement. After 1977 JVP changed its stance. JVP discarded its pro Sinhala attitude. JVP recognized the right of Tamil people for self determination and by 1980 they were supporting the secession of Tamil areas, said Godahewa. DJV had links with the international community which supported devolution, said Sampanthan.

JVP supported Tamil Separatism. JVP has consistently taken a separatist or anti-national stance. For years Ravaya argued that the LTTE couldn’t be militarily defeated and did their best to demoralize troops and sabotage the efforts of the security forces, observed Malinda Seneviratne.

JVP said in 2015 that seats in the new parliament must accommodate fair representation for the ethnic and religious minorities.  The Tamil and Muslim minorities in this country have been in distress for decades and been taken for endless rides by the two main parties. JVP/NPP said in 2019.  JVP/NPP however was a trustworthy ally.  

The JVP/NPP programme calls for devolution of political and administrative power to the regions, said its spokesman in 2019. The NPP demands release of political prisoners, protection of Muslims from injury and insult, establishing a new Truth and Reconciliation Commission, empowering the Commission on the Disappeared to deliver justice to families of victims, releasing military occupied lands, terminating ethnic based colonization and economic upliftment of war affected areas.

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