Tamils in Independent Ceylon

by S. Makenthiran



Chapter 1: Ceylon Independence                                        

The dawn of Independence

Paradise gained and lost

Ceylon Tamils, the original inhabitants

Immigrants to Ceylon

Chapter 2: Ceylon on the eve of colonialism                        

Childhood recollections

My recollections of early politics

Second World War recollections

Teenage recollections

Recollections as an undergraduate

Chapter 3: Political developments up to independence       

Ceylon as a British colony

Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan

G.G. Ponnambalam

Sinhala Muslim riot of 1915

Sinhaleses prior to independence

Muslims in Ceylon

The Upcountry Tamils

The Ceylon Tamils

Chapter 4: Political developments after independence         

The Sinhalese dominated UNP comes to power

The great betrayal of Upcountry Tamils

Tamil agitation

Sinhala colonisation of Tamil homeland

Sinhala Only act

Sinhala violence against the Tamils in 1956

The Bandaranayake-Chelvanayagam Pact dishonoured

Sinhalese massacre Tamils in 1958

Chapter 5: Events leading to Tamil Eelam demand

Srimavo continues the anti-Tamil policies

Attempted coup

Srimavo-Shastri Pact

Senanayake-Chelvanayagam Past dishonored

Ceylon renamed Sri Lanka

Tamil students discriminated

The JVP insurrection of 1971

The War of Bangladesh Liberation

Police violence against the Tamils

The formation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

The Vaddukkoddai Resolution for Tamil Eelam

Anti-Tamil racial riot of 1977

Tamil youth answer the call of Thanthai Chelva

Chapter 6: The Father of the Tamil Nation

Early years

S.J.V.’s family

Entry into politics

Federal Party

Peaceful protests under Thanthai Chelva

Tamil United Liberation Front

Demise of the great leader

Chapter 7: Vaddukoddai Resolution

Chapter 8 Tamil youth react to Sinhala terror

Tamil militancy

Another constitution introduced

Burning of the Jaffna library by the police

Anti-Tamil hostility

Sporadic attacks by Tamil youth intensified

Arbitrary arrests of Tamils

Chapter 9: The 1983 genocide of Tamils by Sinhalese

The ambush at Tinnevely

The Sinhalese massacre Tamils

Chapter 10: Aftermath of the holocaust

Sixth Amendment to the Constitution

Unitary and federal constitution

Jayawardena government further alienates Tamils

Tamil militancy gathers strength

Sinhala ‘Veerayas’

Plan to separate Northern and Eastern Provinces

The Tamil exodus

Chapter 11: The Eelam War I

Beginning of the Eelam Wars

Guerrilla attacks

Sinhala atrocities

Cease-fire and Thimpu Talks

Sinhala state terrorism continues

Women in LTTE

Lieut. Colonel Ponnamman and Yogaratnam Yogi

Vijaya Kumaratunga

Appapillai Amirthalingam

The Black Tigers

Chapter 12: The Patriarch of Upcountry Tamils

Early life

Entry into politics

Upcountry Tamils deprived of citizenship and franchise

Jaffna Tamils fail Upcountry brethren

Agitation against Sinhala racism

Renaming to Ceylon Workers Congress

Srimao-Shastri Pact

The champion of orphaned people

Eviction of estate Tamils

Common suffering of Northeast and Upcountry Tamils

Triumvirate of TULF leaders

Re-entry into Parliament

Thondaman extracts concessions

Northeast rebellion helps Upcountry Tamils

State funeral

Chapter 13: The IPKF War

Operation Liberation

Air drop and talks

Indo-Sri Lankan Accord

The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution

Death fast by Dileepan

Death of twelve LTTE commanders

Operation Pawan

Northeast Provincial Council

LTTE fights back

The second JVP revolt

President Ranasinghe, cease-fire and talks

Deparure of the IPKF

Chapter 14: Eelam War 2

President Premadasa requests IPKF withdrawal

Cease-fire and talks

Talks fail

Hostilities break out

Tamils massacred by army and Muslims in the East

Battle for Jaffna Fort

Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi

The Battle for Elephant Pass


Assassination of Premadasa

Mathaya (Mahendraraja)

War continues

Chandrika Kumaratunga takes over

Chapter 15: Eelam War 3 begins

Chandrika assumes power

Peace talks

Gamini Dissanayake assassinated

Eelam War 3 breaks out

Operation Leap Forward

Proposal for devolution

Bomb attacks in Colombo

Operation Riviresa (Sun Rays)

Unceasing Waves 1

Operation Jayasikuru (Victory Assured)

Unceasing Waves 2 and 3

Chapter 16: The liberation of Mullaitivu

Tamil ancestral district of Mullaitivu

The rape of Mullaitivu

Operation Unceasing waves

Mullaitivu liberated


The prize of war

Inexorable LTTE advance

Chapter 17: The liberation of Vanni and Elephant Pass

Prabaharan prepares for the counter offensive

Unceasing Waves 2

Unceasing Waves 3

The liberation of Vanni

The capture of Elephant Pass

Tigers advance on Jaffna Town

Anton Balasingam’s illness

Massacre of Tamil children by Sinhalese mobs

Killing of Tamil journalist Nimalarajan

Prabaharan declares cease-fire

Chapter 18: The Hero of Tamil Liberation

The son of the people

The legendary hero

Early years

Marriage and family

Consolidation by Prabararan

The Indian factor

Retreat to Vanni and counter attack

Road to victory

Battle hardened veteran

Prabaharan offers peace

Chapter 19: The Agni Keela and Katunayaka debacles

Debacles in 2001

Agni Keela

Surprise offensive

Tamil women repulse Sinhalese army

Katunayaka debacle

Anniversary of 1983 Black July

The attack

Colossal damage

Sinhalese propaganda

Chapter 20: Leaders of Tamil speaking people

Tamil leadership developments


Muslim leadership

‘Mamanithar’ Kumar Ponnamblam

Murugesu Sivasithambaram

Rajavarothayam Sambandan

Anton Balasingam

Chapter 21: Cease-fire


Peace talks

Suspension of Talks

Reactions to suspension

Efforts to resume talks

SL Government’s proposals for NE Interim Administration

LTTE Paris meeting

LTTE proposals for Interim Self-Governing Authority

Chapter 22 Interim Self-Governing Authority

Chapter 23 Coup by President Chandrika

Reactions to the LTTE proposals

President Chandrika seizes ministries

Chandrika checkmated

Reactions to Chandrila’s power grab.

Political stalemate

Budhist violence against Christians and Muslims

United Peoples Freedom alliance

Tamil reaction to new alliance

Chapter 24: Betrayal of the LTTE by Col. Karuna

The rise of Karuna

The revolt

The fall of Karuna

The causes of Karuna’s debacle

Chapter 25: The future of Ceylon Tamils

President Chandrika appeals to the Norwegians

Changes in the Indian political scenario

Tamil hopes for the future

Mahaveeran Pandara Vanniyan

The Last Tamil King of Vanni (1777 – 1811)




Living in retirement, I thought that it would be a good idea to record my impression of our people’s history during my lifetime.  Though I am an accountant by profession, history has been my passion.  I believe Tamils, particularly the younger generation, will be interested in their roots and our kith and kin, whom we have left behind in mother Eelam.

This book is a revised version of the series of articles I wrote for Ceylon Times.  I am narrating the history of Tamils in independent Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), including the Upcountry Tamils who arrived in the 19th century, and are ethnically the same.  I am also including the Tamil-speaking Muslims, as they speak the same language and are therefore, strongly bound to the Tamils, but are culturally different and follow a different religion.  As far as the Tamil Christians (Catholics and Protestants) are concerned, they are no different from Hindu Tamils, except that they follow the Christian religion.

The history of Lanka has been distorted and many facts suppressed by interested parties.  I have written using my knowledge and experience, and the information from the meagre sources available to me.  I have briefly touched on the history of Ceylon Tamils from the time Lanka was connected to India by land, and the Great Tamil Hindu King Ravanan, who ruled over all Lanka thousands of years ago.  I have covered the struggle of the Tamils after independence up to the cease-fire and peace talks.

S. Makenthiran, October 2004








Posted November 30, 2004