COLOMBO: An 18 year old Jaffna student, Rajeswaran Senthooran, allegedly committed suicide demanding an independent Tamil Eelam and the rehabilitation and release of all Tamil political prisoners.
Significantly,Thursday November 26, happened to be the 61 st birth anniversay of the Late Velupillai Prabhakaran, founder leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Sources in Jaffna told Express that the Kokkuvil Hindu College student was run over by a speeding train at an unmanned and unprotected level crossing at Kondavil. He had abandoned his bicycle and lay down on the track.
A signed note in Tamil found on his person demanded Tamil Eelam and appealed to "His Excellency" President Maithripala Sirisena to forthwith send all Tamil political prisoners for rehabilitation preparatory to release.
"There cannot be a single political prisoner," Senthooran said.
Over 170 former LTTE cadres are languishing in Lankan jails even though Eelam War IV ended way back in May 2009. While the government treats them as "terrorists" ,the Tamils see them as " political prisoners."
Bemoaning the fact that the Sirisena government has been dragging its feet on the prisoners' release issue, the Senthooran's note said: " While I can understand the necessity of releasing the prisoners, I am sad that those giving Good Governance (President Sirisena and Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe) are not able to do that."
However, there was nothing in the note to say he would commit suicide for the cause he was upholding.
Express learns that Senthooran was personally aggrieved, having a close relative among the prisoners and having lost a number of kith and kin in the war.
Senthooran's alleged suicide is significant for more reasons than one. Firstly there is the symbolism of its occurrence on Prabhakaran's birth anniversary. It was Prabhakaran who triggered the suicide cult in Lankan Tamil agitational politics. He had a whole regiment of suicide cadres called "Black Tigers".
Secondly, the "suicide" is symptomatic of the increasing radicalization of North Lankan Tamil politics. Tamil civil society and the Tamil media have become very critical of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which is the main Tamil political formation. The TNA is seen as a pro-government party which has failed to convince the Colombo regime about meeting the main demands of the Tamils including the demand for a Presidential Amnesty for political prisoners. Even the Chief Minister of the Northern Province , C.V.Wigneswaran, has been critical of the Troika leading the TNA and has become the rallying point of the radicals.
Senthooran's "suicide" is expected to mount pressure on the TNA's leadership to deliver at least on the prisoners' issue. However, the revival of the call for Tamil Eelam will make Sinhala hardliners demand that Sirisena take a tough line against the Tamils.