LTTE Naval Force Sub-Leg. Colonel Irumporai Sivaraja Kalachelvan – Thambalagamam, Trincomalee
Commemoration – S. Puratchimaran
Liberation Tigers MagazineAudio – Avani
The anguish of the soul dissolving in the tide – ‘Nidhi has fallen’. The news from the battlefield had reached the town. Not even a piece of his corpse was found. Everyone wept and mourned. They could not accept his loss. Now preparations were underway for the 31st day commemoration. But good news travels fast, and the truth spoke, “Nidhi Veerachaviliyam, Nidhi Veerachaviliyam” (Nidhi is not dead); this had everyone over the moon. In 1991, the news that the legendary Naval Tiger Nidhi, also known as “Irumporai”, had died at the sea turned out to be false. The sea is never calm. Waves are always rushing towards something. It is the story of a person who lived in the ocean like those waves.
There is no one among the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) Naval force who did not know the name Irumporai and the weight that name carries. Similarly, there should not be a time where the people of this country forget the name of this hero. To ensure that his nation does not fall, he lived by sacrificing his own self and strived in anticipation of achievements for his country. Everyone knew that Irumporai was the Naval Sub-Commander of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. But before that, he has a history in the name of Nidhi. This face is also among the LTTE who were ambushed in Trincomalee Maniyarasan Pond, the town of which is home to Irumporai in one of the early days of joining the movement in 1990. He waits for his maiden not with a hand grenade on his hip, but with a heavy fire weapon known as the Dua Pu. The fight begins. L.M.G. is ringing. Military bodies fall. As a long-experienced heavy weapons expert who intervened the enemy in the attack, the L.M.G. heavy fire weapon became his permanent weapon. It was not a time when heavy weapons were plentiful like now. More advances with fewer weapons. So wherever there is a fight in Trincomalee, there will be a G.P.M.G of Nidhi the Irumporai. Similarly, wherever the Trincomalee army goes to fight, the sound of Nidhi’s gun will be heard there.
After participating in the 1993 Operation “Frog” on the army base, Poonakery Nidhi was promoted to the LTTE Naval Force as a heavy gunner. When the LTTE’s Naval force were ready to increase their strength as much as the Sri Lankan Naval Force (that was getting arms from the western superpowers), there was an influx of iron fists pointing towards the LTTE Naval Forces. With this, Nidhi grew more familiar with heavy weaponry. For Nidhi, heavy weaponry is like flesh and blood. He understood heavy weapons to the bone. It’s because of this accreditation the Naval Training College was placed under his direction. After that the warriors referred to him as “Irumporai Master”. The teacher-in-training was in essence like a mother raising her child. He took great care to ensure that every fighter who trained under him became adept at wielding heavy weapons.
When the women fighters of the LTTE stood on par with the men, fighting the waves and shooting at the enemy’s cells with their heavy weapons, every person who witnessed this would come to learn more about him. He was the key element, the one who taught the female fighters the methods of handling those weapons. There were times where they were a little hesitant about whether they could handle such weaponry but their hands pressed the bow of the heavy weapon, standing in the middle of the sea, bravely with the power instilled to them, the feeling and knowledge that they could make the cells of the enemy explode.
As busy as he was in overseeing training, he always had a desire to excel at sea, as fate would have it, there came an opportunity. Operation “Unceasing Waves I”, it was a great battle and the history of the LTTE was reborn. In the battle that the LTTE had unleashed with the lessons of the past, the LTTE boats crawled to the shores of the enemy with incredible bravery, dispelling the imaginations of the enemy. The enemy, who relied only on the sea as a support, was surprised and shocked by the huge fire on land and sea. The LTTE Naval Force also took control of the sea before the shock wave could reach the enemy.
The Samaritan Irumporai stood as the captain of LTTE Naval Force. At one stage of the battle, Irumporai’s boat was set on fire by a bomb dropped by the Sri Lankan Air Force. Irumporai fell, the sea water seeped into the boat and the body of Irumporai turned red. But his life was not yet lost and to add insult to injury, Irumporai still managed to gain victory in this battle. Irumporai was treated for breaking his left leg and hip. He waited over a year for his leg to fit and walk again.
Overcoming this agony, Irumparai started running again. From his position as a heavy weapons training instructor, he was given the responsibility of leading a squadron of Marines. His desire to train more fighters was being fulfilled. He led his army like a warrior rather than a commander. He had all the qualities of a leader, strict where necessary and concessions accordingly. His idea is always to see and reform anything. It is not only on the site but also in the field. Once engaged in supply operations, pirate boats are intercepted by Sinhalese Navy boats. The sea is sinking. The battleships of the LTTE Naval Forces began to fight. A heavy weapon on one of the Black Tiger boats was then refusing to operate. Irumporai, who was taking orders from the shore, understands the situation and rushes to the battle in a Black Tiger Speedboat. Irumporai was adjusting his weapon as he stood in the sea amidst the shouting chants and exploding ‘cannon’ in the midst of the fighting.
On the 7-10-99, the LTTE Naval Forces’ Deputy Commander, Lt. Col. Nirojan, faced an identical situation to the battle mentioned above with Irumporai, but unfortunately was martyred at sea. Consequently, Irumporai took the role as the Special Commander of the LTTE Naval Force and took control of the battle. His proficiency in heavy weapons, his self-belief that he can destroy the enemy in any situation with heavy weapons, his ability to achieve anything with his presence, his unceasing efforts led our nation’s leadership and the Special Commander of the LTTE Naval Force to appoint Irumporai the Deputy Commander of the LTTE Naval Force. It was the attack on Tirumalaithura that brought out all his characteristics together. The Trincomalee port was scouted by an infiltrator and information was bought to Irumporai. Irumporai himself, being the Special Commander of the LTTE Naval Force at the time, went and scouted as an infiltrator the Trincomalee port. He worked day and night with the feeling that the very face of Trincomalee should shake.
He personally checked every preparation of attack. He drove and repaired Black Tiger boats and assault boats. He briefed each fighter about the fight. At Trincomalee port, LTTE’s Naval Force’ submarines and Black Tigers’ boats were being prepared along with the LTTE’s artillery on the shore. Irumporai was on the field to coordinate everything and lead the great battle that would be unleashed into the navy’s den.
As the time for battle drew near, he moved his boats forward into the enemy’s port according to his elaborate planning. Everyone was waiting in silence to reach the summit in an unfavorable environment. Commands emanate from Irumparai’s communications equipment to keep the occupation forces and the troopships in the port in deep sleep. A fierce attack of Naval lions (Sri Lankan Navy) began on the sea and on land as the sound of the waves echoed. The shells from the artillery cannons were falling and exploding all over the harbor. Irumporai single-handedly led the successful attack that disturbed the port of Trincomalee, the Sinhalese navy and the Sinhalese government. He always proved his ability to achieve anything in any situation along with his fighters.
Irumporai could not accept that on a separate incident, the freedom fighters who were traveling under the protection of the LTTE Naval Force, were attacked and killed by the Sri Lankan Navy. Though this loss broke his heart, the Sri Lankan Navy grew frustrated realizing that the mere pain would not calm the fight left in his heart. Without dwelling on the loss, Irumporai sprung into action, the young commander who had led the LTTE Naval Force from Trincomalee returned to the Vanni.
With the advice of the Special Commander of the LTTE Naval force, a new plan was drawn up to retaliate against the Sri Lankan Navy. The fighters along with the sub-commander of the LTTE Naval Force were prepared to stand directly in the sea, give fire training with heavy weapons, to check the boats and destroy the enemy. Boats are launched into the gently lapping waves in a night when nature is sleeping silently. The boats swayed blackly as the lights of the darkness peered across the horizon. Irumparai descends into his command boat. The engines of the boats are loud. The Special Commander of the LTTE Naval Force sends his comrades away and waits in his headquarters at Sea. Boats raced through the waves at high speed in anticipation of their destination from the shores of Mullaithivu.
Now cells of the Sinhalese navy started their supply voyage from Trincomalee towards Kangesanthurai. The LTTE Naval Forces’ boats located the target and surrounded the enemy cells on three fronts. The battle was started by the LTTE Naval Force. The Sinhalese fleet was stunned by the sudden burst of silk in their cells. Irumporai’s command ship and its subs had spotted a massive enemy ship and prepared to launch an attack.
Irumporai requests permission from his commander to engage attack on the enemy ship with the Black Tigers Naval Force which is standing at a distance of 1,200 meters from the enemy’s ship. His heart was beating to scatter the ‘Pride of the South’ with 1,200 men, and unload his heavy burdens, while the enemy was stunned before he could calm down and increase his strength. But the commander refused to grant permission for the attack as general public was reported to be on board. Commander and Chief of the LTTE Velupillai Prabhakaran’s words that “innocent people should never be harmed in War” came before him like arrows of thought. Time was passing. With the Sinhalese navy holding their lives in their hands and blocking the black tiger boats, there was an eerie calm in the sea.
As time passed the enemy’s strength was now massed at sea. The LTTE Naval forces fought hard with the enemy’s Dvora cells. A Dvora boat was sunk into the sea after being attacked by a convoy of Black Tiger Naval forces. Irumparai was leading the fight from his command boat, which was equipped with heavy weapons. Irumporai’s command ship, (which had retreated a little), detected and attacked one of the enemy’s Dvora ships with ferocity. The ship was still standing in the sea but spinning. Irumporai sent a black tiger and his speed boat to land the finishing blow. It crashed through the waves of the sea but did not explode when it collided with the Dvora ship. Realizing the situation, Irumporai furiously advanced his heavily armed command ship, which was supposed to be stationed at a distance of three kilometers, towards the enemy’s base.
As always, if something goes wrong in the sea, Irumporai’s boat will be there. But it was a great wonder, ‘If the target didn’t miss and the ammunition didn’t explode, what happened?’ Irumporai, who was meant to be 3km away from the action found himself stood next to the enemy unit that was attacked by the black tiger. The fighters standing on the nearby boat asked why. They were scrambling to remove the Irumporai from danger. His voice, blaring frantically over the intercom, everyone stood quiet, paused and moved him back. The hero lay silent in the pool of blood inside his command ship. The boats returned to the shore carrying him and a few other comrades with the sadness of losing the general who had been fed and nurtured by one of them in the sea.
How true is the longing of the Special Commander of the LTTE Naval Force, who said, ‘If something happened to me, I had imagined that Irumporai would be able to lead our Naval forces better, but that dream ended in his death’. He who set out never returns without destroying his goal on his departure. We lost a fighter who would stand there with his boat if something went wrong in any fight. In 1991, the history of the name Nidhi was not over, but the satisfaction of achieving a record of ten years may be in his soul. Our heartache that the life of a future naval commander had ended so abruptly.