06 March 2012

Have pro-LTTE Tamils heard of Raman Varathan Kumar?

Wars are made of a lot of things, including of course death and consequent sorrows.  There is a give and take in war and prices that have to be paid.  Wars end, sooner or later, and war-end is as good a time as any to take stock, write up the balance sheet and, if one has a conscience, assign oneself relevant quantities of guilt. 
When close to a hundred thousand perish over a period of thirty years it is easy for name to slip into number, faces to be erased and guilt to become amenable to general spread.  It is easy to absolve oneself of complicity.  Still, there must be times when people ask themselves ‘what did I achieve, what has my “contribution” generated?’

On March 2, 1991 the Minister of National Security of the then Government, Ranjan Wijeratne, was assassinated by the LTTE using a remote controlled car bomb.  A total of 19 people died in the blast, including five of his bodyguards and 13 civilian bystanders. Dozens were injured. 

To the extent that Wijeratne was considered ‘enemy’ of the Tamil Eelam Project, all -those who identified with that project and especially those who believed there was nothing wrong in using guns, bullets and bombs to achieve political goals would have celebrated.  That’s natural.  Some support by sending money, some by whitewashing crimes against humanity and some with the guns purchased from monies sent by the cheering squads.  The credit of ‘victory’ accrues to all contributors. The blame for defeat too, likewise.  And then there’s a man called Raman Varathan Kumar who sports the most incredible smile plying the streets of Colombo in a rented three-wheeler for whom these defeats and victories really don’t mean much. 

Raman Varathan Kumar was not rich. He was as poor as his Sinhala or Muslim counterpart living in one of the 500 plus shanty communities in and around Colombo.  He still is.  As they are.  March 2, 1991 was significant for him, far more than for the LTTE and its backers who even today rant and rave in various Western capitals after having supplied the terrorists with money and guns to kill and maim and thereby rained untold suffering on the Tamil community.      

On March 2, 1991, Varathan was about to go to hospital.  He was 26 at the time.  He had married his childhood sweetheart, Rajamani, five months before.  She was pregnant and had spent most of the previous night vomiting.  Varathan at the time was in the business of making and selling sweets, along with his brother-in-law.  He had hired a taxi.  The taxi driver had dillydallied at the Highlevel Hotel at Thunmulla, close to where they lived, Mailvaganam Watta.  He had been chit-chatting with the mudalali over a cigarette.  Varathan, anxious about his wife’s health condition, had to drag the driver, his friend David, from conversation and cigarette.  His world exploded right then. 

He was lucky, some might say.  Varathan was unconscious for three weeks.  During that time some suspected him of involvement.  When he regained consciousness he found he could not speak.  His mouth was dry.  His lips were wounded.  He told his story much later and that was that as far as suspicion was concerned.  His left collarbone was broken. He lost part of a leg. He had surgery done on arm, leg and stomach.  A shirt and a smile covered it all for the two years I have known him. 

He was lucky, some might say and they would not be wrong. He is alive, after all.  For three months he did not know what had happened to his beloved Rajamani.  Rajamani had died instantly.  She was carrying twins. 

Time passed. Other explosions stole the thunder of this explosion.  Varathan’s story appeared in many newspapers and memory of the incident was quickly wiped out by other tragedies.  Twenty years passed. Thousands died.  Through it all, the funding channels of the LTTE remained intact. Those whose ‘contributions’ purchased the bomb and paid for other ‘logistics’ went on to pump more money into Prabhakaran’s war chest.  None of them have apologized to Varathan.  Or to the countless Tamils used by that thug as cannon fodder, the thousands of children forcibly dragged from school and scholarship, the thousands held hostage and fed one glass of rice cunjee a day, the thousands whose properties, livelihoods and lives were destroyed beyond recognition.  No remorse, no apology. 

Varathan like the thousands of Varathans who fell victim to someone’s bloated ego, further emboldened by misplaced loyalty and the pursuit of a fantasy based on fictions did what he could do. He lived.  Through heartache and tear, loss and meaninglessness.  He married again. His wife Ratneswaree gave him two children, a boy (16) and a girl (10).  He runs a three-wheeler that belongs to someone else.  He harbours no grudge. He doesn’t go about as though someone owes him something. He just lives. To the best of his ability. 

Someone does owe him an explanation and an apology too. More than one ‘someone’.  Many of them are good at talking. Many have bucks they’ve readily parted with, bucks that have helped innocent people be slaughtered. 

Varathan is a father of two.  He is not the father of another ‘two’. Those two never saw light of day.  Their mother never saw them either. 

Raman Varathan Kumar has a lot to be thankful for.  He is not thanking those in Toronto, London, Paris and other such places in Europe and North America who claim to be speaking on his behalf, espousing his cause and building a land he can ‘belong’ better.  I think that’s significant. 



Peterk said...

Sad story. I hope the LTTE backers read this.

Anonymous said...

The LTTE backers now call themselves 'pro Tamil' thereby cleansing themselves of the terrorist connection.

They will justify their actions with exaggerated tales of wrongs committed by the 'Sinhalese.'

Unfortunately the confrontational posture of the TNA - notwithstanding talks with the Government - does not facilitate moderate Tamils from voicing their opinion or forming any effective links with moderate Sinhala people.

The Tamil politicians don't seem to have learnt anything from their flirtation with India in the 1980s. They still expect 'foreigners' to get them 'justice' despite glaring examples of the kind of justice that these 'western democracies' had delivered to places such as Cambodia, Laos, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

The Tamil diaspora in UK and no doubt elsewhere, who thought they had escaped the LTTE suffered too. My Tamil friends in UK who had businesses had to pay extortion or be mercilessly beaten up and the business bankrupted by the simple means of introducing rat droppings and mice to restaurants and informing the Environmental Services who promptly closed them or shut them until cleaned up. Sadly, although the LTTE had been beaten, this part of their fundraising had apparently not ceased. Now it should be even more profitable because they no longer have to spend any money on buying weapons, only propaganda.

Anonymous said...

Amnesty International Calls Cops To Quash Questions About Ties To Terror Supporters – OpEd