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Keeping memories alive 20th anniversary of Rajani’s assassination

by Dayapala Thiranagama

One night in 1983, soon after midnight Rajani woke me up and whispered to me that she had been asked to treat an injured boy from the Iyakkam (movement). For her, this was an act of compassion by a doctor towards her patient. For me it was a political act. I was frozen. I turned back and slept. I was caught up in the agony of belonging to the oppressor and the woman I dearly and unconditionally loved trying to ‘liberate’ her own community by undertaking her bit in the struggle. This whisper and the brief political argument that followed opened cracks in our relationship which grew wider and wider.

TC0917RT.jpg

Dr. Rajani Thiranagama

Rajani had an enormous influence on those around her. She was a mother of two young children, Narmada aged 11 years and Sharika aged 9 years respectively, at the time of her death. She was 35 years old. Rajani had begun to demonstrate an extraordinary courage and vision in her political activism defending human rights and took an uncompromising position whenever these rights were violated. The armed confrontation between the Tamil Tigers and the IPKF was at its peak at the time and no dissent was tolerated. She had had links with the LTTE and had treated injured Tamil militants before at the inception of Tamil tiger militancy. Then they were only a small band of armed men. Times had changed. Her assassins had been waiting for her on her way home after work at the Medical Faculty and she was gunned down near her home in Kokuvil, Jaffna on 21st September 1989 about 4.00pm.They came behind and called her by name. Then she was still sitting on the bike, turned back and looked at them. Eyewitnesses say that she tried to cover her forehead with her bare hands seeing the gunmen pointing the pistol at her head. They demonstrated extraordinary cruelty against a woman who had only her bare hands to cover her head against the bullets. Even after she fell on the ground they shot the back of her head with two bullets to make sure that she would not be alive to criticise them again. They showed no mercy towards the woman who had showed them such compassion and had treated them when they were injured. Her young daughters hearing the gun shots wondered who the victim would be this time.

The purpose of this account is to make some personal reflections and analysis on the life shattering individual experiences suffered by us as a young family in the unprecedented political upheavals for decades simply because we did not wish to be just observers. It also attempts to trace the political journey of two individuals with an intimate relationship in relation to the wider political process that engulfed the country.

First meeting

I met Rajani in September 1976 when the student unrest was rapidly spreading within Sri Lankan universities and there was a renewed militant student activity among the university students. An innocent student, Weerasuriya at Peradeniya had been gunned down by the police and the student militancy grew stronger in the face of such atrocities against the student movement. These were extraordinary times. The political unrest in the country had already begun to change our lives and our lives in turn were set to change the political course of the country, even in a small way, to a point of no return. I had just come out of prison for the second time after spending long years in prison in 1976. Rajani, a young Tamil woman with Christian religious background and radical political thinking had just started to influence the medics at the Colombo Medical Faculty with her thirst for justice and democracy against a repressive state apparatus that had a hallmark of historical discrimination and violence against Tamils. I had just become a university academic by this time. When we met and forged our relationship it was clear that our lives would never be the same again, for us, as well as our children who were yet to be born. We got married on 28 August 1977 in Colombo, without a ceremony, in the midst of anti- Tamil riots in Colombo. On the day we got married we stayed in Rathmalana with a Sinhalese friend of mine and her father loaded his shot gun and kept awake all night in order to protect us as a number of Tamil families had been attacked on the previous night in the neighbourhood. Our marriage brought together two ethnically, socially, politically and culturally diverse individuals into a relationship based on human understanding and deep love which appeared unshakable at the time. Once she wrote to me saying that her love for me was as deep as the ocean. With all these differences, one of the most interesting issues was how far our loving relationship with all its complexities would serve to protect our marriage during a politically divisive time when the two communities were at war and in which the Tamil minority was at the receiving end. Both Sinhalese and Tamil popular cultures had been at war with each other and the Sinhalese considered their culture was superior.

Ethnic differences

Our ethnic differences would have appeared unbridgeable at the very beginning, as I was a product of the 1956 Sinhalese Buddhist social mobility that had been created by my parents’ generation of people who were part of the Panchamaha Balavegaya. (Sanga, weda, guru govi, and kamkaru) and in turn the 1956 and its perpetuation. Its ideology had shaped our thinking and political outlook as young people who had very little to do with the Tamil community and understanding of their issues. The political issues Rajani tried to grapple with as a young medic had in fact become intractable due to the ideological and political outlook perpetuated by the 1956 social mobility amongst the Sinhalese youth, which discriminated against the minorities in Sri Lanka. This was a big advantage for the JVP to build their pro- Sinhalese political project in the late 60’s, throughout the 70’s and 80’s. Rajani was able to understand this political trend when she studied and worked in the Sinhalese areas and in Colombo. The JVP’s pro Sinhalese project showed that the Tamil democratic struggle had to be fought by the Tamil themselves as it did not accept the Tamils had specific democratic and political grievances to be resolved. It was this kind of political rejection in the Sinhalese South that drew people like Rajani to support militant organizations in the Tamil community.

Social class

Socially, we belonged to two different social classes. Rajani had a middle class upbringing in Jaffna. I was brought up in a poor peasant family in the South and the only life chance opened to me was education. As a young boy I had walk to my school miles and miles with my bare feet. My childhood poverty and deprivation and how I had to overcome these as a young boy was very distressing to Rajani to the extent that I never wanted to explain the full extent of my past to her beyond a certain point. It was a lottery that I managed to succeed in my education. Rajani had no issue whatsoever about my social class vis-à-vis her middleclass background. She defended me strongly within her own middle class family members and outside whenever it came to their attention that I had not been living up to their middle class norms.

We were also politically different and in reality these political differences played a divisive role in our marriage. I had near religious belief in the Marxist-Leninist/Maoist political agenda and Rajani wanted to apply the revolutionary success stories in other countries to Sri Lanka as pragmatic examples of social justice. It was also due to this pragmatism that Rajani became closer to the Tamil Tigers in her own political journey. In the same way this core ideological belief of pragmatism benefited her to turn her energy and emotions into human rights campaigning later in her political life when she left the Tamil Tigers.

When I met Rajani I had only just left prison I still had scars of torture all over my body and while in prison I had never expected to live again let alone have a relationship. Rajani showed extraordinary courage to accept me as I was with all the differences between us, with my own social and political past which was such a contradiction to her own middle class life and aspirations. She had to battle it over with her family. Rajani had accepted that I would one day leave her and go in order to fulfil my political responsibilities. It was also accepted we would not meet again once I left the family. My generation had undergone a tremendous change in their mind set and all our personal needs and aspirations had to be suppressed for political justice and the emancipation of the poor. We also had a very deep sense of family ties and gratitude and the need to provide for our parents who underwent untold sufferings to bring us up. This sentiment and obligations we had suppressed in the belief that social justice followed by the armed revolution would resolve this for ever. Rajani had been coming to terms with a life with our children without my presence and her expressed determination to look after them on her own. This idea was no longer sustainable when the demands upon us required us to sacrifice our expectations and throw away our perceived traditional roles. This is what exactly Rajani did. We thought at the time that even if we were not there our children would be looked after by others, particularly our comrades.

1983 anti-Tamil riots

The 1983 anti- Tamil riots had an unprecedented influence on every Tamil’s conscience and their dignified existence became untenable: either you had to accept your unequal status and keep quiet or you had to fight for justice and democracy. For the Tamil community it seemed there was no way out.However, Rajani was still unclear about the political line to be taken in search of justice and democracy. My views were clear in this regard. I never wanted to join any political organisation which would not allow you to get out if you disagreed with them. Without that kind of internal democracy it becomes a very dangerous affair if they take up arms. Additionally, here was another issue which we did not pay adequate political attention to as youthful political minds: even nominal parliamentary democracies could withstand armed struggle and demonstrate flexibility in recreating political space defeating the resolve of armed combatants. In Sri Lanaka still the political space had not been closed. We were in a hurry and the political space for the democratic struggle had not been exhausted. The failure of the JVP armed struggle in 1971 and 1987-89 as well as Tamil Tigers’ recent military defeat has to be viewed in this context, despite its own organisational and structural weaknesses.

Rajani’s pragmatic mind and her compassion were drawn to the Tamil Tigers’ political project. Rajani left for England in 1983 on a commonwealth scholarship and by the beginning of 1984 Rajani had joined the Tamil Tigers in London. I visited Rajani in May 1984 in London. Following a very painful but comprehensive discussion it appeared that there was no space for the continuation of our marriage except our joint responsibility for our daughters. We decided to part and I went back to Colombo. Rajani had become a seemingly unwavering member of the Tamil Tigers’ military project. Once our relationship had appeared to be unshakable but there were no guarantees in a time of war that we could maintain it with such divergent political views. The deep human love that brought us together over our differences had vanished for forever ever. Rajani became very distressed but her political loyalty was placed above the loyalty that had existed in our relationship. We had decided to go our own ways as our political and personal differences were irreconcilable. Our differences had their own dynamics in a relationship that became dysfunctional.

After a couple of months of my return to Colombo, Rajani had resigned from the Tamil Tigers. She wrote a letter to me breaking the news and assured me that our relationship was still as strong as during our happiest times. Rajani acknowledged our separation in these words in all my trials and tribulations you stood by me in strong love but I was cruel to you…Rajani was always open and frank. For me still there was no guarantee that it could ever be the same again. On my part I had moved on. During this time the political suppression had become acute and I was keeping a low profile. Rajani would now be returning home to her beloved people and Jaffna, to resume her work in the University after completing her Phd.

Rajani arrived in Jaffna in 1986. She became the Head of the Anatomy Department. Rajani’s political transformation was becoming impressive. She was evolving as a human rights activist and her feminist outlook look brought a new political dimension to her politics and a pioneered a new kind of people’s political agenda in Jaffna. She became a tireless campaigner for freedom and democracy against the rule of the gun. She pioneered the formation of the University Teachers of Human Rights (UTHR J) with three other academics which drew anger and wrath from both IPKF and militant groups particularly the Tamil Tigers. Rajani and others recorded all the human rights violations from all sides in the conflict. She believed the human life was so precious that no human life should be eliminated for political reasons. She also supported and was actively involved in Purani, a refuge for destitute women. She became a remarkable mother, a tireless activist and respected academic in an environment that posed a great danger to every human being there at the time.

From time to time Rajani visited me with the children in Colombo in order to make sure that they did not miss their father. During this time she also began to write Broken Palmyra with some others in the UTHR this made her an obvious target of the Tamil tigers. When I read the manuscript I had no doubt what the outcome would be if it was published. I advised Rajani that she would have to lie low and that they would not spare her if she went ahead with its publication. She agreed but the UTHR (J) had to make the decision. By the time she was gunned down, it had not been even published. The Tamil Tigers knew that it was going to be published.

Rajani clearly understood the danger to her life if she continued campaigning but she did not wish to scale down her activities and stop what she felt she had to do. Such was her indomitable courage and determination during such difficult times in the history of Tamil militancy.

Rajani was buried in her family cemetery in Nallur on 25 September 1989. I walked with my two young daughters hand in hand, the most difficult, most painful and saddest of walks in my life. Along with her, the happy days of our family were buried and the family was never the same again without her presence. We have not been able to visit her grave for twenty long years. Each day her daughters passed without their mother, brought home to them their irreplaceable loss. They joined other children in Sri Lanka who lost their parents due to the war. The irony was that it was me, not Rajani who had expected to die in the struggle and she had accepted that her role would be to care for the children. But the total opposite happened. At the beginning of our relationship I never thought that I would end my political career for the responsibility of looking after my children. I thought that my involvement in Sri Lankan politics would result in my death. That did not happen. Instead Rajani gave her life for the human rights of the Tamil people and I had to be alive for the children. I looked after them until they were independent. But my tribute goes to Rajani. It was Rajani’s solid foundation she laid in their formative years that helped me to complete the task. This situation was not specific to my children or family. Such was the dramatic transformation of the political situation and its impact on individual members in the Tamil community within a short period of time of militant activity.

Before she was gunned down, in early September Rajani was in Colombo on her way back from England after a short trip and waited for me in Colombo before travelling back to Jaffna. But I could not make contact with her. She left Colombo in disappointment. Before leaving Rajani wrote a few lines on the back of the cover of the book she bought for me in London and left it for me. This was her last note to me.

To

Him, who lives out of the paradox of deep tenderness and love –with the strive of Bakunin’s characterization of ‘a revolutionary has no interest of his own, no cause of his own…no habits, no belongings he does not even have a name’ If in this era of cataclysm and overwhelming terror – when no victories are won or end seen - if it is only reverence that this woman can pay to him who carries fire in his heart and burning determination in his spirit let it be only that

Rajani 1989.

After Rajani wrote this, she went to Jaffna. Then I received a message on 22nd September which I never wanted to hear. Her death brought the demise of my political career. Rajani’s death also made our relationship brief but our memories have become life long with rich life experiences.

The commencement of Rajani’s political journey with the Tamil Tigers brings to the fore questions about why people join certain militant organizations where dissent will not be tolerated and where criticism might lead to death. I had discussed this issue with Rajani over and over again. The elimination of ‘traitors’ was a common practice in Sri Lanka in both JVP and Tamil militant organizations. Both the JVP and LTTE killed their political adversaries and these killings showed no mercy and some of them demonstrated unimaginable brutality.

Any responsible political organization must explain to the people why they had to resort to such brutal eliminations of their critics. The JVP has failed to do it so far and it’s unlikely that they would do it after so many years have passed since their gruesome murders were carried out. They have not ruled out that they would not do it again. They eliminated those Sinhalese who advocated granting the rights of the Tamil people under the 13th amendment during 1987-89. Both the JVP and Tamil Tigers should take this issue seriously as it is a demonstration of their democratic credentials. If they choose to eliminate their political dissent without dealing with them in a democratic manner now, there will never be room for democratic freedom in the future even if they were to succeed in installing their dictatorships over the masses of people. Rajani’s death and her political legacy shows that ordinary human beings, when faced with acute degradation of human freedom under the rule of the gun will never be silent and their political reaction will be more powerful than the gun. I salute Rajani for being one of such heroic women.Rajani was asked not to return to Jaffna in 1977 from England by the family and friends in the midst of a very destructive war during a time many professionals were leaving Jaffna, but she felt very strongly to get back to serve her community. Rajani refused to listen to the same advice just before her death on her return to Jaffna.

Rajani’s assassination had weakened the Tamil democratic movement. Those who are responsible for her death should accept their political mistake if the Tamil democracy is to become a mature, responsible and viable political force in the coming years. This is because her assassination was symbolic of the political indecency, dictatorial and anti-human nature of Tamil militancy that went off track, leaving a huge political vacuum in the Tamil community.

Even though Rajani was assassinated the political ideas she fought for will never be vanquished. The pro- people political ideas she developed and analysed in Broken Palmyra provides a very powerful critique of Tamil militancy which in the name of Tamil liberation was becoming a ruthless military apparatus and using people cynically to build a dictatorship.

The Tamil democratic struggle needs peoples structures in every sphere of life that would guarantee their rights and freedom and these structures should be strengthened against corrupt politicians and the rule of the gun.

To commemorate Rajani’s life and her contribution to human rights a commemoration meeting will be held on 25th September 2009 at 6.00pm at BMICH in Colombo by the Rajani Thiranagama Commemoration Committee.

25 Comments

I was a student of Jaffna College, Vaddukoddai for a year (1970), Ranjini was a class senior to me and was a bright, frank and dedicated student. Ranjini's father Mr Rajasingham was the Vice Principal and was a well known Mathematics teacher for the higher grades. It was a great privilege to have known this family.

Nirmala - Ranjini's older sister was a bubbling personality with a great smile who was the first student to welcome me at Jaffna College. The Rajasingham family made my first day memorable and I can still remember it.

Based upon what I saw of their belief and faith in their early years, I could not believe what occurred to the two sisters later in their life. Nirma marrying a Tiger leader and being poisoned and Ranjini marrying a Sinhala Buddist and being shot dead. This would have shocked most living and schooling around Vaddukoddai. The Rajasingham family was quoted as an example to those of us who enjoyed fun as against books.

In my opinion the Tamil/Sinhala war is created by a few selfish self cantered persons who do it to gain power. I studied in a large private school in Colombo and never felt any difference between the Tamil/Sinhala communities. Even when I was in Jaffna for a short period during my school days I did not notice hatred between the two. There was dis agreement at a lesser levels.

However the 23 July 1983 incident brought hatred and dislike. This was the day that prejudiced the minds of the so called Colombo Tamils. As Tamils we encouraged the Tigers and promoted them to carry out vengeance or revenge. I now say the Sinhala man was called a "Mottu Sinhalaya" and they kept to it. If not for the 23 July 1983 incident the war against terror would have lasted no more than 5 years and that land where I once lived would have been a paradise.

Dayapala may god bless you and your family and may the Sinhalese and Tamils rejoin and the land of ours be a peaceful place for mankind.

Posted by: Ranjit | September 15, 2009 11:49 PM

Mr. Dayapala Thiranagama

A very poignant, lucid and revealing article. I have read many other about late Dr. Rajini Thirnagama. But thank you for giving us an angle no other could have given. This article to my mind demands a book to be written - by none other than you.

I hope you would consider to do so. The Dr. Rajini Thiranagama episode of the meltdown of Sri Lanka's history should be remembered through your eyes.

Posted by: Daniel M. Asaipillai | September 16, 2009 01:09 AM

Thanks Dayapala Thiranagama.
We will never forget her.

R Maran

Posted by: R Maran | September 16, 2009 01:32 AM

Dear Dayapala Thiranagama,

Please do post her pic, preferably a happy one with her family. I would like to see the brave woman who took on the Tigers boldly.

Thanks
Nanda

Posted by: nandakumar | September 16, 2009 02:25 AM

This is really a story of epic proportions. Reminds me of Dr Zhivago.

Posted by: SriLankan | September 16, 2009 07:39 AM

Rajini is a true heroine of our time. The issue Dayapala discusses here in terms of internal democracy of militant movements is a crucial determining factor in the emergence of a liberated society from such a militant campaign.

JVP's elimination of political disidents, especially the ones who were not part of the state aparatus, resulted in terrorising the most progressive elements of society draining crucial supportive elements from it's campaign. The fact as Dayapala mentioned that no self evaluation has been done by JVP to date on this subject creates enough doubts about JVP's true credentials as a social revolutionary movement.

The idealogical background of VP and his close associates clearly indicated that LTTE would never be a progressive force & therefore it would never succeed (though people like Bahu for some reason appear to have missed this point).

The consequences as we experienced during the last few decades have been a real tragedy for both Sinhala & Tamil communities, especially, the most disadvantaged, poor & vulnerable segments of these two communities.

The paths taken by these so called revolutionists/liberators almost permanently divided the oppressed segments of both Sinhala and Tamil communities against common oppresors permenently weakening their strength to rise against perpetuating discrimination and oppression. More distressfully, it set these oppressed segments against each other. There is no need to look any further to understand this other than looking at the thousands of dead from both sides of the divide and pose the question.....who are/were they?

Thank you Dayapala in sharing memories which are of great historical value which needs to be preserved as sign posts for future generations who might be bold enough to tread the path you and Rajini took.

Posted by: Hela | September 16, 2009 07:49 AM

Dear Dayapala Thiranagama, You are a gentleman and bestowed with great values of human life. I read Broken Palmyra and gave it up half way. Truth came to light and the co-authors became rascals in the hand of America. In my strong belief the LTTE never resorted to political indecency like killing someone for his opposite political views. When I was in Vanni in 1994 I asked them about this accusation, that the SL govt. as the biggest propaganda. They told me that there was no truth in that. Anyone who had given information about their members to the SL govt. intelligence, and that led to the killing of their member, they would punish him that way. But, before that there would be enough time for him to apologize and reform him. Once he accepts his mistake, he would be encouraged and helped to live a happy life in Vanni itself.That was EPDP's game. Unfortunately the great Dr. Rajini Thiranagama didn't live that long to appreciate the growth and maturity of the Tigers and how they behaved in the De-Facto govt. Tamils will always have respect for her and remember her. My gratitude to you and our wishes to your daughters.

Posted by: N.Balasubramaniam | September 16, 2009 10:31 AM

Dear Dayapala,
I was there when HRW's Helen screened the film in London about Dr Rajani T. I asked a question about how do you know for sure it is Tigers. I saw how reluctant you and children initially was to reply to that. You thought I was pro tiger I think. I asked the question because I knew few Tiger supporters were there who argued with me it is not so. This is a verry nice tribute for Rajani. The question you asked here - very valid - why people join certain militant organizations where dissent will not be tolerated and where criticism might lead to death...I was almost about to Join JVP and although they denied it now thery were militant as much as LTTE albeit for opposing views. Both organisations were miltaristic and facist and annihilated by eqally brutal Regims. The best we can do for Rajini's memory is to fight for political freedom, freedom of expression and for equalt rights. Most urgent need is to free Tamil civilains from welfare camps. I can imagine Rajini would have been forefront helping these civilians and fight for their sake. She gave her life for a freedom of chocie. Freedom against brutality.
One last irony here I have to remark and sorry for that. We can celebrate her life more freely now in Colombo or in Jaffan without anyone calling her a traitor. Unfortunatley that freedom came from eqally brutal response from the Government. This what I cannot understand and try to understand still.

Posted by: Gamaya | September 16, 2009 04:13 PM

Dear Dayapala,
Thank you for sharing your personal life and shared with Rajani to rest of the world for the benefit of the humankind. I share and feel the loss of a wonderful human being, human rights activist, mother, daughter, wife and guru. You brought uncontrollable tears to every human being, which we felt in the recent months during the wanni war and all along the Tamil and sinhala survival struggle.

I would like to share two of yours and Rajani's views:

"If they choose to eliminate their political dissent without dealing with them in a democratic manner now, there will never be room for democratic freedom in the future even if they were to succeed in installing their dictatorships over the masses of people."

"She believed the human life was so precious that no human life should be eliminated for political reasons."

By sharing the same view as Rajani another reason, death penalty is eliminated in the judiciary system in certain democratic countries.

A human being or a society or a judiciary system, is not capable enough to eliminate the life of another human being, which they have no control over creating such life.

My appreciation and wishes for your courage and commitment to your children

Thaya
PEACE ON EARTH

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2009 11:06 PM

Dear Dayapala,
Thank you for sharing your personal life and shared with Rajani to rest of the world for the benefit of the humankind. I share and feel the loss of a wonderful human being, human rights activist, mother, daughter, wife and guru. You brought uncontrollable tears to every human being, which we felt in the recent months during the wanni war and all along the Tamil and sinhala survival struggle.

I would like to share two of yours and Rajani's views:

"If they choose to eliminate their political dissent without dealing with them in a democratic manner now, there will never be room for democratic freedom in the future even if they were to succeed in installing their dictatorships over the masses of people."

"She believed the human life was so precious that no human life should be eliminated for political reasons."

By sharing the same view as Rajani another reason, death penalty is eliminated in the judiciary system in certain democratic countries.

A human being or a society or a judiciary system, is not capable enough to eliminate the life of another human being, which they have no control over creating such life.

My appreciation and wishes for your courage and commitment to your children

Thaya
PEACE ON EARTH

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2009 11:06 PM

Thank you for the article on this brave and admirable woman from my profession. I hope that you have found solace in the two daughters she left you to nurture.

Posted by: Ram2009 | September 17, 2009 04:56 AM

Dayapala! A well written and poignant tribute to your beloved wife. Rajani's death was notable among the many brutal killings of the Tigers over three decades who glorified killings in the name of liberation and transformed the Tamil society into a state of selective dementia - horrified at the sufferings and killings of Tamils but not just accepting but celebrating and rejoicing in killings and sufferings of any scale inflicted on others by the Tigers. It is pathetic to read the comment by N Balasubramaniam above - it just confirms the state of denial and the almost religious reverence to a murderous group.

Posted by: indrajith | September 17, 2009 06:27 AM

N.Balasubramaniam | September 16, 2009 10:31 AM

It is true that there is no real proof that LTTE killed Ms. Rajani Thiranagama, but I think it was the LTTE who must have killed her. My close friend Vivekananthan took her immediately after the incident to the hospital in his black morris minor car. He is and was a Sai devotee and returing from a Sai Bajan on a Thursday evening with his wife, daughter and another woman. Three medical students, 2boys and a girl, went along with him to the hospital. There were only two actors in the field. One was LTTE and the other was IPKF. Sri Lankan army was not at all in the scene, though they are/were capable of any amount of cruelty surpassing LTTE by a huge margin. It was initially believed that IPKF was behind it but later the truth transpired from the University Students. One should know the situation at that time. IPKF dominated the area and all the LTTE bigwigs went underground in Alampil, Niththukai Kulam and Palya aandan kulam areas. I worked in these area as a young engineer. Major decisions were taken by sixteen and seventeen year boys as they were the area leaders. Order to kill might not have come from Pirabhakaran, but he would not have lost a few hours of sleep because of it. Another incident took place during the same period. Still I am ashamed of it and I would like to record it here. I was going on an inspection of school works around Neervely and a lot of local people blocked my car shouting, wailing and crying. A girl was shot and injured and they wanted me to take her in my car to the hospital. I took her but I asked them who shot her, fearing that if it were LTTE then they would come after me. It turned out to be IPKF firing. I then felt calm. Incidentally my car was also a black morris minor. Like me, the hiring car owners at Thinnevely junction feared LTTE and all drove away their cars and the junction was deserted of any car to take Ms. Rajani Thiranagama to the hospital. I do not glorify Ms. Rajani Thiranagama because she was killed by LTTE. Nether do I belittle her of any short comings. My sisters studied at Chundikuli Girls College and my sister and my wife taught there. They all know very well Ms Nirmala Nithyananthan and Ms. Rajani Thiranagama and of very high opinion of them. I have once adversely commented on an article by Ms. Nirmala Nithyananthan in Tamil Week. My younger sister was not happy and told me that Nirmal was a very nice girl. I replied that I did not accuse her but I pointed out that she was bashing LTTE for everything, a lopsided LTTE bashing.

Ranjit | September 15, 2009 11:49 PM
Ranjit, If you can justify the disenfranchisement of Upcountry Tamils, enactment of Official language act within 24hours, murder and mayhem unleashed on Tamils in 1956, 1958, 1962, 1977, burning of Jaffna public libraray on 31 May 1981, killing of more than 50 people in Kumthini boat by Navy at Nainativu(all pre 1983 events)then I see no point in discussing about anything with you. It is the policy of the Government led to all these bloodshedding and it will continue to be so. The present is a lull in the flow of blood in public. Lot of heads are hanging with gunshots unknown and unheard. That is all.

Hela | September 16, 2009 07:49 AM

Keeping 300000Tamils behind barbed wire fence is proportionally equivalent to keeping 3million Sinhalese. The Sinhala public is not disturbed. Furthermore, they elect the same government with huge majority in the local government elections. In a way Sinhala public wants a submissive and meek Tamil population with no desire to protest. This thinking will keep the blood flowing and unfortunately it will mostly from Tamils. Tamils resisted because they thought that were oppressed by the Sinhala dominated state. You are ready to help one class of oppressed and turn your eyes away, not to see other class of Oppressed.

Dayapala Thiranagama,

"As a young boy I had walk to my school miles and miles with my bare feet." Sounds familiar. I had my first trouser to go to Peradeniya University to do the Practical test after Grade 12 examination. I had my pair of shoes and the slippers at the same time. I think this was the same with about 50% of the population, both Sinhala and the Tamil, at that time. For me, Ms. Rajani Thiranagama died knowing not why she was killed. So were many intelluctuals, imbeciles, doctors, engineers, clerks, farmers and those from all walks of life. We glorify someone's death and ignore others.These are the naked truths. So long as these naked truths are not addressed, there will be many more killing in naked, hands tied behind, to the applause of many.

K.Easwaran

Posted by: K.Easwaran | September 17, 2009 09:44 AM

Dr. Rajani Thiranagama's death is very unfortunate to our Tamil community. My husband (who was a studdent) still remembers her and tells how they suffered without her.

I am not a LTTE supporter. But I don't think they killed her. In Mid 90s Atputhan (he was also killed) Wrote about Tamil millitants in "Thinamurasu" (I think he was an editor that time and it was appreciated by several people ) he wrote that Dr. Rajani Thiranagama was killed by EPRLF not by LTTE.

Posted by: Ananthy | September 17, 2009 11:12 AM

Dear Mr.Dayapala Thiranagama...very touching and very emotional! When I was young I’ve heard about Rajini….by your writing I see her in front of me! I feel you and your children are part of my family now. May God Almighty bless you & your children with health, wealth and Happiness!

Posted by: Sakthi | September 17, 2009 01:09 PM

Rajini was an extra-ordinaryily fine human being from a family of activist Lankans who looked at a future for all Sri Lankans from an inclusivist perspective. To her, we were all Sri Lankans first. If she wished she could have effortlessly found a comfortable life outside Sri Lanka for her and her family in a world that would have welcome her with a warm embrace. To her we were all under siege by a society gone beserk– so she came back to save all of us from more than the twin evils that appeared pre-dominant on the surface. Her young, talented and beautiful life was snuffed away, brutally, in a fascistic climate by faceless assassins. The fragrance of her name will always be cause celebre when Lankans across the racial divide - who love and care for the future and unity of their country - meet. Rajini was felled by demented forces in the false notion of misguided nationalism. Her work should be carried forward by Sinhalaese, Tamils, Muslims and others. Her dream should not die.

ISS

Posted by: Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan | September 17, 2009 06:58 PM

My tribute to Ranjani, may god bless her soul. Thank you for sharing your story, and I wish all the best for your children.

Ruby

Posted by: RubyC | September 18, 2009 08:32 AM

The Broken Palmyrah was a superb and brave piece of work but the authors' bias was obvious and that continued to show in subsequent UTHR(J) publications. They used a soft lens on the EPRLF's transgressions and there were many in the time of the IPKF. The EPRLF was only condemned when no other explanation was possible - often the IPKF 'carried the can' for the EPRLF.

Unlike the JVP and LTTE who fed off the suffering masses, the EPRLF was a middle-class (upper-caste) socialist outfit and those social and cultural ties bind firmer than any sense of solidarity with the masses. Perhaps therein lies an explanation for Rajini's dislocation from the two facets of the 'proletariat' that had once enamoured her?

Posted by: Gini Appu | September 18, 2009 05:24 PM

Rajini was betrayed by two of her students,many of us know who thease guys are and it my understanding that they are doing quite well in an European country, having left their organization and the medical school many years ago.It is high time that some one started to name the names,those who attended the Jaffna Medical School in 1989 should be able to help us with this task.
Rajini, we shall not forget you.Thank you very much much Dayapala for sharing your thoughts with us.
Cheers,
Siva

Posted by: Siva | September 18, 2009 06:36 PM

The LTTE MURDERED her and Neelan Thiruchelvam, and Laksman Kadirgamar, and Jeyaraj Fernandopulle,... Etc Etc Etc...


You FOOLS who think the LTTE did not do this are so blinded by your belief that they are still your FREEDOM FIGHTERS... you have such a pathetic soft spot in your heart for those TERRORISTS who basically took the opportunity of a Freedom struggle and mutated it into a ruthless Gun point fascist outfit that has done nothing for Tamils except destroy your entire Culture, and Community.

Posted by: Devinda Fernando | September 19, 2009 09:37 AM

She tried to show them (LTTE) the right way...she got punished for that...but she predicted very well.

புலிகள் சந்தர்ப்பங்களைவிட்டு பிழையான முடிவுகளை எடுத்தார்க்ள் என்பதைவிட புலிகள் இப்படித்தான் முடிவெடுப்பார்கள் என்பதுதான் அடிப்படை நியதி இதனை 25 வருடமுன்பே எம்மைப்போன்ற பலர் கூறியதுதான்... and she was one of them.
She was brave enough to encounter them.

My response to Ananthy EPRLF or LTTE does it make any difference? Kiling an inocent woman is wrong.

Posted by: V.Kumar | September 21, 2009 03:25 AM


Brother Devinda,

Of Neelan, Rajini, Kadirgamar and Jeyaraj F most seem to agree LTTE did Neelan in.
Question mark about Rajini. Several Cbo newspaper features suggested Kadir and Jeyaraj were strictly Southern contracts.

ISS

Posted by: Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan | September 21, 2009 08:51 AM

*** Several Cbo newspaper features suggested Kadir and Jeyaraj were strictly Southern contracts. ***

Well that's just it isnt it Senguttavan? You FOOLS only look for news that suits your beliefs, then ignore the Rest that does not fit WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN CONDITIONED to BELIEVE.

Jeyaraj was Killed by a SUICIDE BOMBER (For GOD's SAKE it was caught on Camera!).... if that does not point to the LTTE... then you are MORE DELUSIONAL than I thought. And if you look at motive... He was a TAMIL who was Mahinda's Right hand man, he was extremely Vocal against the LTTE when this war broke out... The Obvious reason he was a Target is he basically was a Huge CONTRADICTION to the LTTE and their LIES that they have been fostering abroad about this being a SINHALA vs. TAMIL conflict...

Same with Kadirgamar...

After all He was the TAMIL who successfully got the LTTE put on th INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST LIST and thus got their Funding cut off! Now why would any SINHALESE want him Dead for doing that? Like I said before you people are so DELUSIONAL...

Posted by: Devinda Fernando | September 22, 2009 09:13 AM

My friend Devinda:

Being Tamil is not just having a Tamil name – particularly in today’s context. I knew both Jeyaraj and Lakshman K. Jeyaraj’s mother spoke good Tamil and Jeyaraj spoke the language poorly although he got angry when this is mentioned. He tried to live a Jekyl & Hyde life.

Mahinda's right-hand man??? Almost everyone in the Cabinet will say he is. As to who killed him, the newspapers at the time carried sufficient leads and I shall say no more.

As to Lakshman K, he came from a distinguished Manipay family of caste Tamils. Some of his cousins speak beautiful and classical Tamil – not Lakshman or his elder brother Sam nor Easwari Richards - whom I don't know.

Its not that he wanted to be detached from his Tamil past but with Trinity; then Oxford; an initial practice in Colombo; then Switzerland and Europe with a non-Tamil wife, the man had nothing to do with Tamil or maintained Tamil connections and could not read, write or speak Tamil.

But that’s his choice and I have no problem with that. As to who killed LK, I have the same answer as the earlier one of JF, although LK’s had a lesser hall-mark than JF’s – which was a suicide bomber – as the whole world knows. But today, pal, almost everything is a business and is available at a price. Don’t you know that much, you rambling loco?

ISS

Posted by: Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan | September 24, 2009 09:25 PM

You See Senguttavan, you epitomize everything that is wrong with Tamils today,.. Especially their MENTALITY...

I too knew him, (my family is also from Negombo). And I know that TAMIL COMMIES like you deep down consider this 'CHETTY' a SELL-OUT and a TRAITOR... Your feeling is he should have put his talents to the FEDERAL PARTY right? He should stick to his Own right? Isnt that the WARPED RACIST MENTALITY that still lurks deep inside you Senguttavan? What IRKS you TAMIL COMMIES the most is he chose to embrace the NATIONAL IDENTITY...that he considered himself Sri Lankan before considering himself a TAMIL... that is what stews in your minds, that is what drives your own inner Self-Loathing.


Look how you speak with criticism of Jeyaraj for his lack of ability to speak Tamil. Is that a Bad thing? Is that maybe his choice in life? Yet somehow you are implying he was LESS a TAMIL than you? Oh you SELF-APPOINTED SAINT that you are! LOL! SWRD could barely speak Sinhala, yet no Sinhalese person would accuse him of being any less Sinhalese. You TAMIL SUPREMACISTS on the other hand have a genetically ingrained ability to judge each other so negatively... whether it be by your "Caste" or your "Tamilness"...

And as for Lakshman's Murder....Don't cloud the issue with Conjecture and Rumor... Stay objective and look to Identify the Real Motive...

The QUESTION we LOGICAL and SANE RATIONAL PEOPLE use to determine Guilt is "WHO HAD TO BENEFIT MOST FROM THE KILLING: The answer is of course: THE LTTE. That goes for Jeyaraj too. (IF the SUICIDE BOMBER WAS NOT A DEAD GIVEAWAY in the first place)

Posted by: Devinda Fernando | September 25, 2009 09:54 AM

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