The Sinhala-Tamil Conflict, 1983-2009: A Brief Overview

“Double Eagle” responding to a Query that I sent re the Assassination of Retd Major-General Janaka Perera in 2008.[i]

He was assassinated by the LTTE in their calculated political-military strategy directed towards selectively eliminating potential Sri Lanka Sinhalese leaders whom the Tamils considered a threat to their Eelam ambition. I am inclined to believe that the Tamil grand strategy to selectively take out strong Sinhala leaders was not of LTTE making. The LTTE were fighters and not strategists. The strategy may have evolved at a higher level from the pro-Eelam Tamil community within the country and abroad.[ii]

I will not rule out the possibility of a Scandinavian country that was heavily involved in the Sri Lanka conflict (not militarily, but strategically) who mistakenly thought that elevating the LTTE to a nation state entity would enable a resolution to the conflict. That country may have provided ‘brownie points’ to the Tamil separatist grand strategy.

The Scandinavian country concerned attempted to place the LTTE on par with the Sri Lanka state. That was a mistake.

The military strongly disagreed with this policy of sitting down with the LTTE for peace talks across the table. But the Sri Lanka state during times of military setbacks wavered and was trapped in a very difficult situation.

The country lacked determined political-military leadership until the advent of the Rajapakse Govt in 2005. The current President (then Secretary of Defense and a former soldier) prepared the military to defeat the LTTE militarily while his elder sibling tried to find a peaceful resolution.

When the SL govt failed in that attempt, Sec Def Gotabhaya Rajapakse had the armed forces ready under an outstanding soldier, General Sarath Fonseka (now FM) to take the LTTE head-on. That strategy worked.

Former Indian Foreign Secy Shivshankar Menon in his book “Choices: The Making of Indian Foreign Policy” agrees. In the chapter ” Force Woks” he commends Gotabhaya R.


Michael Roberts-to-Double Eagle in response, 24 Sept 2021

But note that the crucial SIOT concept emerged from circa 2000/01: as a spin-off from Elephant-Pass debacle where a few extraordinary guys made it back to Vavuniya. Right?

Answer from “Double Eagle,” 24 Sept 2021

Not sure when the SIOT concept evolved.  It was the brainchild of Gen Fonseka (as Army Commander) who wanted Infantry troops to gain the confidence to operate well forward of the FDLs [Forward Defence Lines]. He entrusted the Commandos and the Special Forces to do the training for Infantry troops.

It was a great success.

Eight-man SIOT teamsin training


Sarvananthan, M. 2019 “A Clinical Study of the LTTE and Pirapaharan,”

Iyer, Ganeshan 2012 “Military Training in the German Nazi Mould amidst Internal Dissension in the early LTTE, late 1970s,” trans by Paremes Blacker,

 Menon, Shivshankar 2016 Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy,

Narayan SwamyM. R. 2009 “Prabhakaran: from Catapult Killer to Ruthless Insurgent,” IANS,  18 May 2009 – see

Peiris, Gerald H. 2009 Twilight of the Tigers. Peace Efforts and Power Struggles in Sri Lanka, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications,

Ragavan 2009a “Interview with Ragavan on Tamil Militancy (Early Years),” 2009/02/16/interview-with-ragavan-on-tamil-militancy-part-i/

Ranasinghe, Colonel HP 2020  The SIOT Concept: One Foundation for SL Army Success in Eelam War IV,”

Roberts, Michael 1996 “Filial Devotion and the Tiger Cult of Suicide,” Contributions to Indian Sociology 30: 245-72.

Sivaram, D. P. 1992a “Tamil Militarism – The Code of Suicide,” Lanka Guardian June 1992, 15: 13-16.

Taraki [D. P. Sivaram] 2004a “LTTE develops Asymmetric Deterrence to stall Foreign Intervention,” Daily Mirror 22 May 2004.

Tekwani, Shyam 2009 ‘The Man who destroyed Eelam,”

Thuppahi 2019 “SIOT or Special Action Infantry Teams: Their Origins and Critical Role in Eelam War IV,” 21 May 2019,

SIOT or Special Action Infantry Teams: Their Origins and Critical Role in Eelam War IV


[i] Retd Major General Janaka Perera and his wife were killed along with 27 (?) others by a suicide bomber at Anuradhapura on 6th October 2008 while serving as a leading member of the UNP. He had retired in 2001 and served as an ambassador for Sri Lanka in Australia and Indonesia and then joined the UNP.

[ii] Note: I disagree with Double-Eagle on this issue. From his earliest days in active underground politics, Velupillai Pirapaharan reached for the gun when sharp conflicts developed (A) within the underground force of militants which became the LTTE; and (B) in the violent conflict between different Tamil rebel groups in the 1980s  to lead the battle against GoSL.


Filed under accountability, atrocities, foreign policy, governance, historical interpretation, law of armed conflict, life stories, LTTE, military strategy, politIcal discourse, power politics, prabhakaran, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, tamil refugees, Tamil Tiger fighters, unusual people, vengeance, war reportage, world events & processes, zealotry

2 responses to “The Sinhala-Tamil Conflict, 1983-2009: A Brief Overview

  1. LTTE was an Indian outfit formed by hijacking the EROS in London and later joined with several local underground groups in Ceylon and South India. Empire India installed a Malayali Parabakaran as the head instead of Uma from EROS. Solheim a Socialist from Norway was used by India and Indians as Norway was a supplier of arms to India with other Nordics. Socialists in the West including Oz have been supporters of Indians from the days of Mohandas. If you knew C Eliezer from LaTrobe who AKA Eelamsir and God Father of Eeelam was an active member of LTTE. He was a lay preacher as well an Academic and was instrumental in getting hold of Protestant Churches of the world (World Council of Churches) staring with the Melbourne Uniting Church. There were others those days a Tamil doctor from Adelaide. Further support came from Bilimoria of Deakin and the Fairfax Media to name a couple.
    The turning point of the war came when the Navy managed to blow up two ships carrying arms organized by India with intelligence supplied by the USA.
    The war was conducted by India and the terrorists, and the killings of Sinhalese were carried out by India. India uses similar strategies in killings in Kashmir and other places within India.
    Killing of Janka Perera is like other killings by India during the war. He got on well with the Tamils and other Indians in Oz. I guess India did not want him to be a politician.
    Mahida was installed by India in 2005 because India thought it would not be easy to negotiate with Ranil. India was right as Ranil gave H’tota to China. India also thought Mahinda will be another Bandaranayake as his father was a Bandaranayake man. The other mistake was India did not take Gota into account when profiling Mahinda for the job as he was settled in the USA. Another reason for the win was during the final days of the war lots of soldiers died but the bodies were kept in cold storage without even informing next kith and kin.

    • It is with some hesitation that i have permitted thisset of comments by a “JOHN SMITH” … clearly a pseudonym. Its a pseudonym froma person who is evdidently a nutcase with an anti-Indian phobia as well as other curents of “MADNESS”. John Smith is porbaby located in Melbouren in Australia.
      MAD SMITH ispartially correct on one point: one of the decisive “SET of MOMENTS in the war occurred when the SLNavy sailed far in risky operations to ntercept LTTE arms vessels way out in the Indian Ocean on three different occasions and sank five of these ships in the course of 2007. The operational commander was Commodore TRAVIS SINNIAH, a Trinitian . India had little to do with this set of actions as far as I am aware. for some details see Roberts, TAMIL PERSON & STATE. PICTORIAL, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2014.

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