I. Preamble by Michael Roberts
I was in Colombo from mid-April 2009 to early June and observed the local coverage of Eelam War IV at its bitter end. I was invited by Muralidhar Reddy[i] to write articles for Frontline on aspects of the politics surrounding the war. Though Frontline is a magazine produced by The Hindu consortium, I was not a regular follower of that newspaper on web — even though I had once been introduced to its owner and chief executive, N. Ram, way back in time by Chandra Schafter and had also had an extended chat with him in Delhi in 1995.[ii]
Thus the receipt of a Hindu report on President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s thoughts in mid-2009, expressed in an extended session with him conducted by N. Ram, serves up new material from my position. In step with my policy of raising significant episodes in the course of Eelam War IV to public notice,[iii] I hasten to place this exchange in the public domain.
I stress that after the Tigers were comprehensively defeated I believed that the Rajapaksa government had a wonderful opportunity to move towards assuaging Sinhala-Tamil enmities. But in my considered opinion then Mahinda Rajapaksa’s first performance started off on the wrong foot. Amidst a number of warnings and suggestions in an article presented in Frontline in early June 2009, I criticized President Rajapaksa’s pontifical assertion within his momentous “Victory Speech” in Parliament on 19th May 2009 for its insouciance in proclaiming that there were no ethnic communities in the island, only those patriotic (rata aadhaara karana aya) and those unpatriotic (rata aadhaara nokarana aya).[iv] In circumstances where Rajapaksa was presented as a reincarnation of Dutthagāmini and where many Sinhalese tended to equate the category “Sinhala” with the category “Sri Lankan” – so that the majoritarian part subsumed the whole, such nonchalant idiocy was extremely dangerous when postulated from a kingly autocrat in a moment of triumph (Roberts,” Pillars,” 2009 and 2010: 308-13).[v]
The reprinting of this important news item in Thuppahi will be complemented by Murali Reddy’s commentary on the Ram/Rajapaksa interview in his review of the immediate prospects facing the island peoples within an article in Frontline in July entitled “Sri Lanka. A New Dawn?” All three presentations are meant to encourage substantive articles in the near future in such outlets as Groundviews, Colombo Telegraph and Asian Tribune which evaluate Mahinda Rajapaksa’s commentary THEN in the light of his government’s subsequent performance, his election defeat and his politics now.
II. President Rajapaksa and N. Ram on the Tamil IDPs: “I want to re-settle these people as soon as possible: Rajapaksa” … Hindu, 6 July 2009
PRESIDENT RAJAPAKSA: “Their problem is movement, freedom of movement. Since there are security concerns, I don’t know how to do that immediately.” ‘We’re spending on electricity, on roads, on water. We can’t send them back to a place where there are just jungles.’
The human drama of some 300,000 Tamils fleeing the LTTE in the weeks before its elimination as a military force moved the world as it watched in shock, awe, and eventually great relief. What is their present condition in the Vavuniya IDP camps and what will be their future? And what is the nature of the political solution Sri Lanka’s government has in mind? President Mahinda Rajapaksa responds to N. Ram’s questions in this first part of an extended interview to The Hindu in Colombo. Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President, participated in the conversation, filling in some details and adding his insights. P.M. Amza, Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner in Southern India, was also present during the June 30 meeting at Temple Trees, the former official residence of Prime Ministers.
Ram: Mr. President, are you satisfied with conditions in the Vavuniya IDP camps where close to 300,000 Tamils are housed?
President: I sent some people close to me to the camps. They went and stayed for several days. They spoke to the girls, the Tamil children, and others. And they came and reported to me. I don’t rely on information only from the officials. We released people over 60. You know, a 74-year-old man, when he was released he immediately came here and went to Singapore. He was the man who had the money list, the other list. [Velupillai] Prabakaran had given lists to many, not to just one person. This man escaped; he was one of the leaders.
I would say the condition in our camps is the best any country has. We supply water. There is a problem with lavatories. That is not because of our fault. The money that comes from the EU and others, it goes to the NGOs and the U.N. They are very slow; disbursing money is very slow. We supply the water tanks; we have spent over [Sri Lankan] Rs. 2 billion. Giving electricity, giving water, now we are giving televisions to them. They have telephone facilities. Schools have been established. Some of the leaders are using mobile phones.
I had a special meeting on the disposal of waste. I sent a special team of specialists to see how mosquitoes can be eradicated.
We know there are shortcomings. Slowly, we have to overcome them. In some camps there are no problems. What these people I sent told me: they are satisfied with the housing, the shelter. They have undergone much worse conditions earlier [when they were under the LTTE’s control]. Their problem is movement, freedom of movement. Since there are security concerns, I don’t know how to do that immediately.
So I said: “We have to identify these people. So if anybody takes the responsibility, we are ready to send them.” We have called an all-party meeting for Development and Reconciliation. The reconciliation part, all parties must participate. The TNA [Tamil National Alliance] must participate.
Resettling displaced Tamils
NR: Why can’t more Tamil IDPs be sent back to the places they hail from, provided of course their security and wellbeing can be assured? Why not a grand gesture of sending tens of thousands of people to safe places where they can be looked after – at this stage, in the Eastern Province, the Jaffna Peninsula, and the Indian Tamil areas?
President: You must remember it is only one month, my friend. I said on the 20th of May that as soon as possible, we must send them to places where they can stay. My problem is that we have to get the certificate of de-mining from the U.N. We have already sent people back to several places; you can get the details. As soon as we get the clearance, I’m ready to do that. But before that I must get the clearance from the U.N. about the de-mining. I can’t send them to a place without basic facilities. Now we’re spending on electricity, on roads, on water. We can’t send them back to a place where there are just jungles. Every square centimetre has been mined by the LTTE. If something happens, I am responsible.
Lalith Weeratunga (Secretary to the President; LW): Sri Lanka is adopting a very good system. We are de-mining the paddy fields first; then you can get into rice cultivation. The other thing is that the U.N. has been so slow in de-mining. It’s the Indian companies that have been doing the good work.
President: And the [Sri Lankan] Army. They’re doing the best work.
My personal feeling is that as soon as possible, we have to re-settle these people. We have to send them to the villages. But my problem is that to provide security for them, I will have to recruit another 200,000! I don’t want to do that. Now I am recruiting Tamils to the Army and the police. I was always for that. I said: “Have a Muslim regiment and a Tamil regiment.” All these people started opposing it for political reasons: “No Muslim regiment, no Tamil regiment.” Not by the Sinhalese who welcomed that, but by the Tamils, by the Muslims.
You know, the mothers of our soldiers – some of them though their sons had been killed by the LTTE – when we told them that these people [Tamil civilians fleeing the LTTE] were coming and we must send them food and meet their other basic needs, these mothers contributed. The mothers of ex-soldiers contributed. Bikkus contributed. But not some Tamil businessmen. I had to remind them, shout at them, plead with them to get that support.
NR: Another issue is three doctors under detention: one may be an LTTE man; the other two are government doctors. Why can’t they be released now?
President: I told them to organise a press conference. Let the doctors come and say what they have to say.
LW: They were lying through their teeth [about civilian casualties in the No Fire Zone]. And they are public servants, paid by the government. If they go scot-free, it will set a very bad precedent.
President: Everybody is worried about the doctors. So let them explain to the public, to the journalists, who can question them, why and on what basis they said what they said. Let the pro-LTTE journalists also question them.
The question of Tamil leadership
NR: How do you see the post-Prabakaran situation evolving politically?
President: My view is this. Most Tamil people believed they had a leader – whether he was right or wrong. This man [Prabakaran] made them proud. It was a ruthless organisation, it killed people, those are all immaterial for others. They thought: “There is a leader who is keeping us up in the world.” Suddenly that leadership vanished, after thirty years. Immediately they couldn’t digest it. Many of them know he was wrong. It will take time. Some of these people, the older people, can’t accept it yet. Still the Internet — ‘KP’ [Selvarasa Pathmanathan, the former head of the LTTE’s ‘Department of International Relations’ and chief arms procurer who is at large and on Interpol’s most wanted list] and the rest are sending messages, right? “You don’t worry, the organisation is still there,” and so on. Their propaganda machinery is alive, to get the money. Things that they bought individually, they are not giving it. There are Sinhalese businessmen here who invested the LTTE money. We know it but various powerful people protected them.
My fear is this. Now, to collect money again, somebody will have to plan something here. Just one incident. Just to upset the world and then to show they have started the movement – so that they can continue to collect the money. They think that will help. But we are very vigilant.
In this whole thing, we have to think aloud. I have warned my party people, all party people, whether Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim, that “I don’t want any statement, anything that creates a disturbance among our three communities.” Now my theory is: there are no minorities in Sri Lanka, there are only those who love the country and those who don’t. They tried to twist that but I still maintain that position.
NR: That was in your speech of May 19.
President: Yes, in Parliament. And in my Parliament speech, I spoke in Tamil also. And I spoke only in Tamil when I gave a small message when we started the new ITV Tamil channel, Vasantham.
LW: The public service is learning Tamil. Some are following courses of 40 hours of spoken Tamil.
President: I learnt that in one school the master said: “If the President can learn Tamil, why can’t you all? You are students. You must learn Tamil.” We are paying people in the public service for learning Tamil, to encourage them.
LW: There is a one-time payment if you pass Tamil. But if they go for classes also we pay. H.E. [His Excellency] has issued a directive that with effect fromJuly 1 we will not recruit people to the public service unless they know Tamil – and vice versa, that is, Tamils must know Sinhala, Sinhalese must know Tamil.
President: Let them learn, let them learn. I can remember that in 1970 as a young MP I said that we must teach all Sinhalese Tamil and all Tamils Sinhala. If that had happened, I think there would have been a different world.
NR: There was this famous and prophetic statement in the 1950s [in 1956, when Sinhala was made the official language]: “Two languages, one country. One language, two countries.”
President: Yes, by Colvin [Dr. Colin R. de Silva, the LSSP leader who between 1970 and 1975 was a key Minister in the Cabinet of Sirimavo Bandaranaike].
Towards a political solution
NR: Now about your political solution. You talked about the 13th Amendment plus.
President: I am waiting for them. The TNA representatives must come and participate in the discussions [on the political solution]. I am getting delayed because they haven’t done this yet. [On July 2, leaders and representatives of 22 political parties, including the TNA, participated in the inaugural meeting of the newly constituted All Parties Committee to build a consensus among political parties for development and reconciliation, giving priority to the speedy resettlement and rehabilitation of the war-displaced.] I am waiting but it will be after my [re-]election [as President]. I must get the mandate. After that, the political solution comes. Even tomorrow I can give that — but I want to get that from the people. Even today somebody said: “The 13th Amendment. We are not for…” I called them and gave them a piece of my mind. I called our party leaders and told them: “Now what I’m going to tell you, you’re not going to tell anybody. It’s between you and I.” Only party leaders were there. But today a professor from a university called me to say, “Thank you very much.” I said: “For what?” He said: “This morning you have warned all the people about racism. And what you said has been highly regarded. This call is to thank you.” I asked, “How do you know?” He said: “No sir, I just heard.” This professor, a Tamil man, had immediately got the news. “Whether it is Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim, I am telling you all. No racism. Don’t try to create problems for me.”
[As for the political] solution, I’m willing. I know what to give and I know what not to give. The people have given me the mandate, so I’m going to use it. But I must get these people [the TNA representatives] to agree to this. They must also know that they can’t get what they want. No way for federalism in this country. For reconciliation to happen, there must be a mix [of ethnicities]. Here the Sinhalese, the Tamils, and Muslims inter-marry. In my own family, there have been mixed marriages: Sinhalese with Tamils, Sinhalese with Muslims. This is Sri Lankan society. No one can change this.
NR: You have this idea of a Second Chamber.
President: Yes, I want to get representatives from the Provinces involved in national policy-making. And if there is anything against a Provincial Council, they can protect their powers constitutionally. I have an arrangement in mind — this is what we call ‘home-grown solutions’ — but the idea needs to be discussed and the details settled. I don’t want to impose any arrangement.
III. President Rajapaksa and N. Ram: “We knew they would never lay down arms and start negotiating” – Rajapaksa, Hindu, 7 July 2009
PRESIDENT RAJAPAKSA: If I was the leader of the LTTE, I would have gone underground and I would have been in the jungles — fighting a guerrilla fight. One thing I never did was to underestimate the LTTE: Mahinda Rajapaksa.
In this second part of an extended interview to The Hindu at Temple Trees in Colombo on June 30, President Mahinda Rajapaksa answers N. Ram’s questions on his outlook on the LTTE, his approach to it in peacetime and in armed conflict, and his assessment of its fighting capabilities and of Velupillai Prabakaran’s strategy during the endgame. The first part was published on July 6.
Ram (NR): Mr. President, when you were elected in 2005 what was your expectation of this conflict? This is what you said in your 2005 presidential election manifesto, Mahinda Chintana: “The freedom of our country is supreme. I will not permit any separatism. I will also not permit anyone to destroy democracy in our country…I will respect all ethnic and religious identities, refrain from using force against anyone, and build a new society that protects individuals and social freedoms.” In that policy statement, you also projected the “fundamental platform” of your initiatives as “an undivided country, a national consensus, and an honourable peace.” So what was your real expectation when you assumed the office of President? You had no plan, it appears, to go on an offensive.
President: I was very clear about terrorism. I didn’t want to suppress the Tamils’ feelings. But I was very clear about the terrorism from the start. That’s why as soon as I knew that I was going to win, I invited Gota [his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who took charge as Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law & Order on November 25, 2005; a battle-hardened professional with 20 years of service in the Sri Lankan Army, he played a key role in the successful Vadamarachchi Operation against the LTTE in 1987 and subsequently, in 1990, in Operation Thrividabalaya to rescue Jaffna peninsula and the Jaffna Fort from LTTE control.] I said to him: “You can’t go. You wait here.” That’s why I selected as commanders of the Armed Forces people who would get ready to do that.
Then I sent the message to the LTTE: “Come, we will have talks, discuss.” I was trying to negotiate. I was very practical. I said: “You can get anything you want. But why don’t you all contest for this, have elections? Now you are people who have weapons in your hands. Ask the people to select. Have elections for the Provincial Council. Then we will negotiate. I can negotiate with an elected group. But with a man with weapons, I can’t negotiate.” The biggest mistake he [Prabakaran] made was this. He said I was a practical man, a pragmatic man.
Lalith Weeratunga (Secretary to the President; LW): H.E. [His Excellency] was appointed on the 19th of November  when he made his inaugural speech, where he invited this man. Then on the 27th of November came Prabakaran’s Maaveerar speech, in which he said the President was a pragmatic, practical man [the LTTE supremo announced that his organisation would “wait and observe” the new President’s approach to the peace process “for some time” because “President Rajapaksa is considered a realist, committed to pragmatic politics”]. When he said that, H.E. said in a speech: “I am willing to walk that last mile.” Then on the 5th of December, they attacked 13 innocent soldiers who were taking meals to their comrades and they were without weapons. That is how it started.
President: Even then I didn’t do anything. But then I knew what was going on. Then only I started my defence, I would say. Then Gota said we would have to increase the strength of the Army. All that was planned by them [the professionals]. I said: “What do you want? Get ready.” But I went behind them [the LTTE] pleading. But I knew people were getting worked up in the South. Then I warned the LTTE: “Don’t do this. Don’t push me to the wall.”
LW: Then you sent me to talk to one of their leaders.
President: I sent him. I sent Jeyaraj [Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, a veteran politician hailing from the Tamil minority group of Colombo Chetties and Cabinet Minister of Highways & Road Development; he was assassinated by an LTTE suicide bomber on April 6, 2008].
LW: In 2006, I went through many checkpoints without being checked. H.E. said: “Just go. Don’t identify yourself.” Later he told them: “I sent someone. You people couldn’t even find out who it was.”
President: I pulled up the Defence people, saying: “If I can send a man there, what is your security?” I told them after several months: “He [Lalith Weeratunga] is the man who went there. Do you know that?”
LW: To that extent he went.
NR: To see the weaknesses?
LW: No, to negotiate.
President: To negotiate and see the weaknesses also! Then I sent Jeyaraj. He told them some home truths in Sinhala, which they understood. “You will be killed [if they continued along this path].”
NR: Then came the Mavil Aru incident.
President: That was the time they gave me the green light!
NR: But you were well prepared by then, August 2006?
President: Yes. But before that, they tried to kill the Army Commander.
LW: In April 2006, when they tried to assassinate the Army Commander, the President said — this was in the next room — “as a deterrent, just one round of bombing, then stop it.”
President: Yes, I said: “Just go once.” We were very careful. We did our best to find a way out through talks.
LW: There was a whole series of negotiations, in Geneva and elsewhere. They [the Tigers] didn’t even want to talk.
President: So these military operations did not come without negotiation or without any reason. But from the start, I was getting ready for that [the military operations]. I knew — because I had the experience, you see. We knew that they would never lay down arms and start negotiating.
LW: In this connection let me tell you about the President’s interesting conversation with Mr. Solheim [Eric Solheim, the Norwegian politician and Minister who helped negotiate the 2002 ceasefire and was a controversial participant in the Norwegian mediatory efforts]. I was there, it was about March 2006. Mr. Solheim came to see H.E. after he became President, and said, in the midst of other things: “Prabakaran is a military genius. I have seen him in action,” and this and that. The President said: “He is from the jungles of the North. I am from the jungles of the South. Let’s see who will win!” It was very prophetic. Later the President met Minister Solheim in New York and reminded him of their conversation on the “military genius,” the jungles of the North and South, and who would win. The East had by that time, in 2007, been cleared and the President said: “Now see what’s going to happen in the North. The same.”
NR: When did you first get an idea that the Tigers were vulnerable, that they were hollow in some sense, that you could hit deep?
President: From the beginning I had the feeling that if you gave the forces [the Sri Lankan armed forces] proper instructions and whatever they wanted, our people could defeat them. Because I always had the feeling that what they [the LTTE] were showing was not the reality. But in a way, we were wrong. They had numbers, they had weapons. They would have attacked not just Sri Lanka, they would have attacked South India. The weapons they had accumulated could not have been just for Sri Lanka! The amount of weapons our armed forces are discovering is unbelievable. And I knew when our intelligence was saying: “They have only 15,000 fighters,” I knew it was not that number. I was not depending on one source. I knew that the LTTE had more than that. One thing I never did was to underestimate the LTTE.
NR: So you say they were the most ruthless and most powerful terrorist organisation in the world.
President: Yes, the most ruthless and richest terrorist organisation in the world. And well equipped, well trained.
LTTE’s final strategy?
NR: What do you think was their final strategy? Prabakaran holed out with all the LTTE leaders and their families in that small space, that sliver of coastal land. It shocked the world. But what were they expecting? D.B.S. Jeyaraj, who writes for us, has a theory that they wanted to do a daring counter-attack.
President: I think what they wanted was to escape. In the final phase, they were waiting for somebody to come and take them away. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have gone there. Because they had the Sea Tiger base: that was the only place where they could bring a ship very close — even a submarine. They selected the best place for them: on one side the sea, then the lagoon, and there was a small strip. But then it was not they who actually selected the place: they ‘selected’ it but the armed forces made them go there. The No-Fire Zones were all announced by the armed forces. After Kilinochchi, they were saying: “No-Fire Zones, so go there.” So all of them [the LTTE leaders and fighters] went there. These were not areas demarcated by the U.N. or somebody else; they were demarcated by our armed forces. The whole thing was planned by our forces to corner them. The Army was advancing from North to South, South to North, on all sides. So I would say they got cornered by our strategies.
LW: Kilinochchi was captured on the 1st of January 2009. And the whole operation was over on the 19th of May. So there was ample time [for them to get away].
Conduct of armed forces
President: Yes, I can’t understand why they had to fight a conventional war. Prabakaran could have gone underground. If I was the leader of the LTTE, I would have gone underground and I would have been in the jungles — fighting a guerrilla fight. They couldn’t do that now because we, our Army, mastered the jungles. They were much better than the LTTE in this [mode of warfare]. Thanks to the Special Forces, the Long-Range Forces, and the small groups, the group of eight. That worked very well. And I salute our forces for their discipline.
LW: For example, there was not a single instance where the Army was found to be wanting in its conduct towards women.
President: That girl, when she surrendered — they were deciding, there were six or seven [LTTE women fighters] — she says in her statement: finally, two or three ate cyanide and killed themselves; and then two or three girls said, “all right, we will see whether we will be raped, whether we will kill ourselves or be killed by rape, we will take this risk.” The schoolteacher, this educated girl, surrendered. Nothing happened. She can’t believe this. She was paid by the government for fighting us! By the way, we are now going to get all the government servants [from the Northern areas that used to be controlled by the LTTE] and I am going to tell them: “Forget your past. You work there in these organisations, you can’t just wait there. We are paying you.” Now teachers must go and teach and others must go to their posts and work.
And the money that they [the Tamil civilians fleeing the LTTE] deposited: on the first day it was 450 million [Sri Lankan rupees] together in the two banks, People’s Bank and the Bank of Ceylon. And considerable quantities of gold. The Army has become a very disciplined force.
Reddy, B Muralidhar 2009 “Cornered Tigers. The Sri Lanka Army takes control of the administrative and political capital of the LTTE,” Frontline, 26/2, 17-30 Jan 2009.
Reddy, B. Muralidhar 2009 “Final Act,” Frontline, 26/4, 14-27 February 2009
Reddy, B. Muralidhar 2009 “An Escape from Hellhole,” Hindu, 25 April 2009 http://www.hindu.com/ 2009/04/25/stories/2009042558390100.html.
Reddy, B. Muralidhar 2009 “End Game,” Frontline 26/10, 9-22 May 2009
Reddy, Muralidhar 2009 “Multiple Displacements, Total Loss of Identity.” The Hindu, 27 May 2009, http://www.hindu.com/2009/05/27/stories/2009052755811500.htm
Reddy, Muralidhar 2009 “Final Assault. A first-hand account of the war and the civilians’ plight as Eelam War almost comes to a close,” Frontline, 26/11, May 23-June 5, 2009, http://www.frontline.in/navigation/?type=static&page=archive.
Reddy, Muralidhar 2009 “Final Hours. An eye-witness account of the last 70 hours of Eelam War IV,” Frontline, 26/12, 6-19 June 2009, http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2612/stories/20090619261200900.htm
Muralidhar Reddy 2009 “Sri Lanka. A New Dawn?” Frontline, 26/15, 18-31 July 2009, http://www.frontline.in/navigation/?type=static&page=archi
Michael Roberts 2009 “Dilemmas at War’s End: Thoughts on Hard Realities,” Island, 11 February 2009 and www.rgroudnviews.org — also reprinted now in Roberts, Fire & Storm, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2010, pp. 265-74.
Michael Roberts 2009 “Dilemmas ay War’s End: Clarifications & Counter-Offensive,” Island, 17 February 2009 — also reprinted now in Roberts, Fire & Storm, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2010, pp. 275-87.
Michael Roberts 2009 “Some Pillars for Lanka’s Future,” Frontline, vol. 26/12, 6-19 June 2009, http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2612/stories/20090619261202400.htm … Also reprinted in Roberts, Fire & Storm, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2010, pp. 303-311.
Michael Roberts 2010 “Some Pillars for Lanka’s Future,” Fire & Storm, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2010, pp. 303-311.
Michael Roberts 2016 24 July 2016, “Where Ratwatte and CBK Stood Strong: Coping with the Elephant Pass Debacle in April-May 2000,” 24 July 2016, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/where-ratwatte-and-cbk-stood-strong-coping-with-the-elephant-pass-debacle-in-april-may-20
Michael Roberts 2016 “David Miliband’s Imperious Intervention in Lanka left in Tatters,” 5 July 2016, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/david-milibands-imperious-intervention-in-lanka-left-in-tatters/
[i] Reddy and I had met at a luncheon gathering once at Sanjay Srivastava’s house in Delhi in early 1995 when I was researching into communal violence in India. It was only this year 2016 that I asked Reddy –with whom I have interacted regularly since 2009 – how he chose to invite me. He said that his superiors wanted a Sri Lankan commentator and that a scholar such as Uyangoda would have been rejected. Apparently my “credentials”’ were acceptable (reasons not known.
[ii] When in early April 1995 I heard that Ram was due to visit Delhi, I set up this interview in order to seek photographic images on communal violence in India from his media arms. However, a few days before we met the LTTE had sunk two SLN ships in Trincomalee harbour and our focus became the war in Sri Lanka and Ram’s own involvement at the political level in 1987.
[iii] For instance, see the recent articles Roberts, “Miliband… Tatters,” 2016 and “Elephant Pass Debacle,” 2016.
[iv] Serendipitously, during a Skype chat on 2nd October 2016 SWR de Samarasinghe of Tulane University in Washington remarked on the fallacious foundations of this statement in Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Victory Speech.
[v] This essay will be placed in Thuppahi soon. Its reference points include other substantive articles, viz.,