Go..Go.. Back.. Back..!
Kamal was shouting at a thin tall man.
‘Why is Kamal shouting like this’, I ask Satish.
Kamal returns after hearing the noise and saying, “Brother, they are the other group”.
What a new team, it was amazing. I see a tall and thin man in the team.
“Hey, come here” I called him. “Where are you from?” I ask and look at him.
“I’m from Batticaloa,” he says.
This is the first meeting of Joey and me.
Manalaaru forest is new to us. Batticaloa speaking Tamil is also new to us. Batticaloa is a 70 mile stretch of neythal, marutham, mullai, kurinchi (environmental differences.) Plowing, sowing and cutting all happen together. A beautiful land, overflowing with honey and curd.
Indian army surrounding us.
We plow and sow and are ready to harvest, a stranger comes to threaten and extort the harvest. One Indian for 10 Tamils. Are freedom fighters under Indian siege? Or is India under siege by the freedom fighters?
The siege of us was in front of us. They were unknown about what happening. They were fallen one by one. A freedom fighter hideout near the Nainadu Indian Army camp. He goes near their sheep bar and calls out the sheep.
19 goats from the bar are leaving. He walks behind them. An Indian army man saw the sheep going away and shouted something. He did not dare to come and catch the sheep. He needs at least 50 soldiers with him to come out. A helicopter come to seek the goats and search for the hidden freedom fighter and shoot.
The next day the Indian Army heard his goat bleating on his walkie-talkie and he was shouting. The great Indian army, unable to save his own sheep, wanted to the country of Tamileelam It was in this time, Joey came to Manalaaru. The forest of Manalaaru was rocked by the bombardment. “The Indian is making fireworks for Pongal”, said Justin who is busy preparing programs for Pongal.
“What’s the show tonight”, I ask. “Song, dance and many more” Justin said. Some events like Pongal, Christmas, Memorial Days of freedom fighters are held in the forest. At night Justin was singing in some new language and dancing too. Next comes the announcement of “Brake Dance by Joey” to the sound of drums and tins.
Bending, straightening, breaking…. What a body, it bends and breaks like this. I was enjoying his dance. If the Joey stands upright with the RPG placed on the shoulder, his body will not bend. After the Tamileelam Sri Lanka war resumed, Joey was injured in an attempt of capturing the Jaffna Fort.
One leg was temporarily sensationless. Like a man from Batticaloa, the easy-going nature and the non-judgmental speech never left Joey. If you look at Batticaloa from above, the areas near the coast are huge. Like a sunken ship just above the sea, the surrounding lake and interspersed lands and houses are a difficult area for the battle.
“With the storm that came in 70, all the trees were destroyed. And everything went away with the racial storm that followed,” said one. Every home has a sad story. There are traces of killings by Sinhalese and Muslims and the Sri Lankan Army.
Like the other parts of Tamileelam Batticaloa and Ampara also continued to suffer during the struggle with the Indian Army. Despite facing the greatest crisis, a word “We are fighting in the midst of the greatest crisis and suffering” never came from Batticaloa – Ampara Special Commander Karuna.
“We don’t have a problem.” There is always this answer.
The child raised by the national leader stood firm. This is the basement where Joey crawled into. He grew up in Manalaaru, the residence of the national leader. There are many heroic stories about the Indian forces. Once an English soldier pointed at an Indian army and said, “I will shoot you”. The Indian army answered: “Shake the head first and then shoot.”
The English soldier shook his head and it fell. As soon as the English soldier said, ‘I will shoot’, the Indian army threw his knife at his neck. The fast and sharpness of the knife threw the head off the English soldier. The Indian army with such heroic stories entered Manalaaru On 02.03.1989 under the leadership of Col. Pakshi.
Kamal, Ari, Kugendran, Xavier and Joey were also there.
In that historic battle, the Indian army fled leaving Pakshi’s body behind. After the Indian army buried their knives in the sands and fled, Joey’s war education started. This war education of people like Joey became a lesson of struggle for the Indian forces.
Tamil people of Batticaloa and Ampara were killed by the Sri Lanka Army, Muslim killers and anti-national gangs when the Tamileelam-Sri Lanka war started again. Houses burned. Sexual violence continued. Tamil people’s life continued under forest trees.
“Tigers in South Tamileelam? They are destroyed”, Sri Lanka roared. As Raghunathan at home and Joey on the move, Joey has now become Visalagan and set foot again in Batticaloa. In a very short time, he saw his potential and made him the special commander of Batticaloa – Amparai district.
“Tigers? Where?”, the Sri Lankan Army screamed. “Tigers everywhere again”, and the attacks continued. One of the attacks that followed was on 25.10.1991. It was an attack on soldiers who were going from Kokkaticholi Army Camp to Manmunadura. This attack was led by Visalagan (Joy). The attack did not go as planned as the Sri Lankan Army did not arrive in the attack zone as expected. In the 15-minute attack, many Sri Lankan soldiers were killed and 6 guns were captured.
“You say there are no LTTE, but we have captured many weapons from the enemy in October”, the general asked a reporter proudly. Visalagan’s interview has appeared in Frontline magazine published on December 20. “People say we have no support, but during so many Sinhalese army camps, who brought you to us in a boat? Can this happen without support?”
“The Sri Lanka Army captured the abandoned camps in Mullaitheevu and Amparai.” “After the Sri Lankan Army came to Michael camp in Manalaru, we went there and found 100 shoes caught in landmines. What a loss they have suffered.”
“It is a lie that we are not in Batticaloa city. We will go anywhere according to the need, according to the situation.” “You can stand by and see the situation.”
“They say we have been defeated. We have captured 51 weapons from the enemy in October alone. Does this mean we are defeated?” “We are not defeated, we are winning!” Visalagan´s interview continues with great determination and pride. On 27.11.1991 more than 3000 Sri Lankan soldiers boarded on an encirclement in the name of “Vatteruvum”.
In response to this military action Visalagan planned an offensive at the request of the Special Commander. He decided to launch an attack on the soldiers who were coming towards Sengaladi to take food supplies from the Pankutaveli Army Camp and Mudirayadi Etham Army Camp.
There was a black bridge 25 meters long on the main road in the attack zone and another bridge 15 meters long 500 meters away from the area.
The attack started at 08.40 am on 29.11.91. 7 Sri Lankan soldiers were killed. Others ran away. Visalagan gave orders from the attacking zone.
A bullet fired by a Sri Lankan wounded army soldier hits Visalagan in the throat. A critically injured Joy became maveeran at 5.30 am on 30.11.1991. Mr. Thenisai Sellappa and his singing group was going to Batticaloa and Amparai shortly after the departure of the Indian army.
Kashi Ananthan wrote this song to them….
“The fish daughter sings
Vavi’s daughter dances
Maddu Nagar is a beautiful platform
Here the eight directions are the withers of art”
The last four lines for the song.
“There is also a group of tigers
Who are skilled in the art of war
There is also a struggle
To pulverize the enmity”
– LTTE (Voice 27)