Kausalyan - Heroic saga of an
Eastern Warrior

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj                                                    
                      
It was the third  day of March last year. Around 125 to 150 senior stalwarts of the
Batticaloa - Amparai Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were gathered at
"Thenagam" conference hall at Karadiyanaaru in Batticaloa district.Former
Eastern commander of the LTTE Vinayagamurthy Muraleetharan alias "Colonel"
Karuna was holding the floor. The man who had led the tigers in the East from
1987 was  revolting against his leader Velupillai Pirapakaran.

Many of those present could not believe their ears. Karuna "Amman" was related
a litany of complaints against the LTTE hierarchy. His chief targets were
Intelligence head  Pottu Amman, Financial Controller Thamilendhi and Police chief
Nadesan. What Karuna wanted was for the Eastern LTTE component to have
autonomous authority. He advocated that the Eastern tigers should be free of
central control by the LTTE hierarchy. "We will throw off the Northern yoke and
create an Eastern renaissance" Karuna said.

Many were flabbergasted. Some who knew about Karunas mindset were not
surprised but did not expect such open  rebellion. Whatever their inner thoughts
or misgivings almost everyone seemed to agree. Some kept silent but many
articulated their willingness to go along with Karuna openly. Ironically some of the
wildly enthusiastic lieutnenants were Ramesh, Karikalan, Ram. Ramanan,
Kuyilinban, Bawa etc. All of them later went over to Pirabakaran and turned
vehemently against Karuna.

There was only one open dissenter. This courageous "Akela" who dared to defy
the Eastern supremo was none other than Kausalyan who was gunned down
brutally at Namalgama last week. Kausalyan was then as he was now the Political
wing chief of the Batticaloa - Amparai LTTE. Kausalyan respectfully told Karuna
that the destiny of the Eastern and Northern Tamil was inextricably inter-twined.
The Tamil people had to be united. Disunity meant the end of the armed struggle
he pointed out. All problems with the leadership should be resolved through
discussion. Kausalyan urged Karuna to refrain from this course of action and go
to the Wanni and meet the leader Pirapoakaran directly.

Karuna argued back and did his best to change Kausalyan's stance. At one point
he asked Kausalyan himself to write the amount of income earned by the LTTE in
the East and remitted to Wanni. With trembling fingers Kausalyan did so. "With all
that money we can make our "Batticaloa motherland" a golden Eastern Eelam"
said Karuna. Kausalyan stood his ground. He could have been executed by the
impulsive Karuna. Yet Kausalyan did not relent. Finally Karuna lost his temper. He
scolded Kausalyan in filth and asked him to get out. "Go to Wanni immediately.
Take your "Manisi" (woman) with you. I don't want to set sight on you. If I see you
again I will finish you".

While a dumbstruck audience watched Kausalyan left the place. Losing no time he
went to Ambilanthurai and picked up his fiancee Pushpa then a final year
undergraduate at the Eastern campus. He made his way quickly to the Wanni
even as news of the revolt reached Pirapakaran. There was no doubt that the
LTTE leader was happy to see Kausalyan. They were immersed in discussions for
a long time. Thereafter people like Ramesh, Ramanan, Ram, Praba, Karikalan etc
deserted Karuna and came over. But the man who fearlessly defied Karuna's
divisive revolt was Kausalyan alone. The tiger leader was greatly appreciative of
Kausalyan's loyalty and in a few weeks time witnessed his marriage to Pushpa.
Sadly she is now a  seven month pregnant widow.

Quiet and contemplative  the soft - spoken Kausalyan was not an extrovert.
Gentle and mild - mannered he was  by nature shy. Yet the docile exterior belied
an ironwardly strong character with nerves of steel. He was firmly stubborn in
negotiations. He did not argue boisterously but never relented from his position.  
He would seem charmingly agreeable but would remain firmly inflexible. Though
an introvert Kausalyan got along well in interacting with the people. His trouble -
shooting skills were legendary. With his demise the LTTE has lost someone who
could in the future could have become a great leader and possibly second in
command.

Eliyathamby Nagenthiran Lingarasa alias Kausalyan was born on Oct 16th 1972 in
Pandariyaweli. This was on the west coast of the Batticaloa lagoon. The littoral to
the east of the lagoon was known as "Eluvaankarai" or shore of the rising  sun
while the Western hinterland was "Paduvaankarai" or shore of the setting sun. He
came from peasant farmer stock but his lineage was that of a warrior clan.

Kausalyan belonged to the dominant social group in Batticaloa - Amparai called  
"Mutkuhar" but known colloquially as "Mukkuwa". His sub - sect or martilineal clan
was "Kaalinga Kudi". The Paduvaankarai region including villages like
Pandariaveli, Padaikathaveli, Arasaditheevu, etc were populated to a great extent
by people of this clan or kudi. The Kalinga kudi derives its name from Kalinga and
claim to be descendants of warriors of Kalinga kings from Deccan India. As time
went on they turned to agriculture but were generally impoverished as agrarian
workers.

Kausalyan like Ramesh, Thurai and Nagesh etc of the LTTE belonged to this clan.
A whole bunch of these clan joined up with the LTTE during the Indian Army
period. Earlier the bulk of LTTE recruits came from other caste groups. Kausalyan
then sixteen plus  joined in early 1989 and received training in the
Kanchikudicharu jungle. He was later stationed in the Vadamunai jungle areas.

When war broke out with Colombo after the IPKF left Kausalyan again fought in
the Kumburumoolai region. He also fought in the Vaaharai - Kadiraveli region.
Possessing leadership potential he went up the ladder quickly and by 1993 was in
charge of district finances. He was in Jaffna in 1994 and worked under finance
controller Ranjith Appa who later took the "Pure Tamil" nom de guerre
Thamilendhi. He returned to the East in 1995   after the ceasefire and continued
to be in charge of finance and taxation.

In 1995 Kausalyan went up to the Wanni where the LTTE had re- grouped after
withdrawing from Jaffna. He fought in the Mullaitheevu battle of July 18th 1996. He
was also involved in logistics during the Wanni fighting of 1996 - 1997/ 98 .He
returned to the East again in 1998 and was again in charge of finance for both
Amparai and Batticaloa.  

Kausalyan dealt with millions of rupees but was scrupulously honest. His integrity
was above reproach. No one including Karuna can point a finger at him for
financial impropriety or embezzlement. Despite this squeaky clean record ,  
Karuna  removed  him in 2001 and made him deputy political commissar to
Karikalan. Seemingly a promotion - the move was calculated to get Kausalyan out
of "Nidhipporuppu" or financial control. With Kausalyan out the way was cleared
for Karuna and his coterie to  "Misappropriate" money under the new finance chief
Reginald (Not Karunas brother Reggie). This was the beginning of Karuna's
downfall.

After Karikalan fell out of favour with Pirapakaran over the Muslim question and
was removed Kausalyan succeeded him as Political Commissar of Batticaloa -
Amparai. He remained so till his death. One of his greatest achievements was
mending fences to a great extent with the estranged Muslim community. He took
exceptional care to prevent Tamil - Muslim enmity erupting. He allowed Muslim
traders  to visit Tamil areas and do business. His death is a great loss to Tamil -
Muslim brotherhood. The spontaneous hartal observed in Muslim areas to protest
his killing and the remarkably large Muslim attendance at Kausalyan's funeral at
Thandiaddy is illustrative of his relationship with the Muslims.

Kausalyan had left leaning tendencies. Coming from an agricultural worker
background he was interested in land reform. Kausalyan spearheaded the
acquisition of land from rich Tamil and Muslim landowners and distributing it in
small allotments to landless peasants. Unfortunately for Kausalyan his attempts to
transform the semi - feudal "Podiar" (landowner) agro - system in the East did not
succeed. It ended in abysmal failure as the new owners did not have the capacity
to work the land consistently and continuously amid adverse circumstances. Given
the LTTE preoccupation with war it was unable to provide the support systems
necessary to small  farmers and landowners. As a result of this "land reform" and
the escalating war the entire agricultural output of what was once the "paddy bowl"
of Lanka decreased drastically.

Apart from formulating and enforcing a rapacious tax scheme that rapidly
pauperised the middle classes Kausalyan also pioneered income - generating
projects for the LTTE in the East. Stone quarrying, construction contracts, sand
business, bakeries, hiring vehicles, setting up bakeries, financing small boutiques,
textile retail  etc were some of these projects. Not all of these were  successes but
they were run honestly. After his removal most of these projects became hotbeds
of corruption.

The overall LTTE political commissar Thamilselvan came over to Batticaloa to
preside over Kausalyans funeral. He along with Bhanu, Thamilendhi, Balakumar
and Nagesh came by air force helicopter after charging the security forces of
complicity in Kausalyans death. 35 others including Ramesh, Karikalan, Para and
Nadesan came by road with the SLMM. Thamilselvan lambasted the forces in his
funeral oration. After doing so he will travel back in a helicopter again. Incidentally
the loudest applause at the funeral oration was for Ramesh. Many eastern Tamils
came to the funeral to see and hear the former Eastern commander who had
been "transferred" to the Wanni.

Despite this posturing at the funeral for public consumption it is well - known in
LTTE circles that  the same Thamilselvan gave Kausalyan a lot of harassment
when he was Eastern political chief. He was cold shouldered in many respects.
When Tamilselvan led a political delegation to Europe after Karuna's rebellion he
kept Kausalyan out. When pro - Karuna websites raised the issue of
discrimination against eastern tigers the team was hastily revised and Kausalyan
included. Yet Tamilselvan sidelined Kausalyan and kept him out of important
meetings. Kausalyan with his modest, pleasing manner was a great hit  with Tamils
living abroad. He met a lot of Batticaloa Tamil expatriates and convinced many of
Karunas folly.

Kausalyan enjoyed great popularity in the East. The upper and upper - middle
classes may not have liked his "social reform and taxation" but the lower - middle
and poorer classes loved him. In spite of 57 years of Independence and 30 years
of liberation struggle it is people of that strata who make up the majority of
Eastern population. Many  people who paid their respects and attended his
funeral did so out of genuine sorrow. His replacement is Marshall from
Arumugathankudiyiruppu but few think he can fill Kausalyan's void. Whatever
Kausalyan's critics may say about him none can fault him for dishonesty in
monetary matters  or insincerity towards the cause. The death of this Eastern
warrior is truly a great loss to the LTTE.
[Sunday Leader]
Thamilchelvan slams  
Colombo for Kousalyan's  
slaying [Tamilnet]
"With his
demise the
LTTE has lost
someone who
could in the
future could
have become a
great leader
and possibly
second in
command."
" He took
exceptional care
to prevent Tamil
- Muslim enmity
erupting. He
allowed Muslim
traders  to visit
Tamil areas and
do business. His
death is a great
loss to Tamil -
Muslim
brotherhood."