The Indian Colonel who raised a salute to the Tamil Tigers – Tamil Guardian
A former Indian special forces Major spoke of how his own father, a retired colonel, raised a salute to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as he returned from “the most challenging” deployment of his career with the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF).
Speaking on The Ranveer Show, Maj. Abhay Sapru recalled his time with the IPKF when they it was deployed to the North-East and his experience with the LTTE.
He called his time on the island the most challenging of his career, despite having served in other areas such as Kashmir, stating that “if you ask this with any of those who served in Sri Lanka” he had “complete confidence” they would reply the same.
“See the most dangerous fighter is the guy who's intelligent and motivated,” said Sapru. “And if he's trained and unleashed on a terrain of his own choosing, he's the most dangerous man.”
“The American Special Forces said ‘the right man in the right job is the most devastating weapon’. The Tamil tiger was exactly that.”
He recalled the heavy casualties the IPKF faced, stating “every infantry battalion that went in suffered casualties”. “My own unit which is a [Special Forces] unit lost three officers killed five captains wounded… 32 other ranks…. when I joined senior Majors were going into operation and everybody lost people.”
“If you're not motivated you are going to hold yourself back in combat,” he continued. “And in Sri Lanka everybody was raising this issue at some stage or the other. What are we doing here? Why are we here?”
“The Tamil was always treated as a second class citizen,” said Sapru, as he dscribed the background to Indian military intervention. “There were Tamils who went in the last 100 years, who were taken by the Brits for rubber plantations, there were Tamils who had been there from the Chola times - you know they were the old Tamils. Nevertheless, they were treated as second-class Citizens. Therehad been resistance from time to time and at some stage a whole bunch of these Tamil parties came up – EPRLF, LTTE, PLOTE etc. etc.”
“And at that stage a whole bunch of these people under pressure of the genocide - sort of genocide - being committed by the Sri Lankan forces were coming into Tamil Nadu.”
Sapru’s own father – now a retired Indian colonel - was involved in training the early Tamil militant groups in the 1980’s he recalled.
“He was very impressed with them,” said Sapru. “Some of them didn't even know how to tie a shoelace and when we booked out an eight hour training program… the senior leader came up and said no make a 13 hours, make it 14 hours. That's the kind of motivation they had. Then you unleash them, train them, arm them and unleash them on their own terrain. They were deadly.”
Sabru also recalled a discussion he had with his father after returning from his own deployment with the IPKF.
“I remember he was a very seasoned soldier,” he said.
“I came back from Sri Lanka and I remember the first evening he didn't ask me anything. In the evening, we sat down over a drink. Then he looked at me and he said ‘So what do you think of the boys? It's my boys.’”
“I said, ‘Well they were good. We lost a lot of men and losses.'"
“And I think I saw a little smile and a twinkle in the old Colonel's eyes. He looked up and then he raised a salute to the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka. ‘Serves you bastards right. Bullying with the boys aren't you?’”
“He was very impressed with them.”
See the full interview above.