12 Years On, Since Vanquishing LTTE
Today marks the 12th anniversary of vanquishing the LTTE on 19 May 2009. The long drawn-out war against the Tamil terrorists was won solely owing to the unyielding courage of then President and present Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the clever planning by his brother then defence Secretary and current President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the valiant efforts of military officers of the calibre of today’s defence Secretary, General Kamal Gunaratne.
What prompted then President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was also following a policy of negotiations with the LTTE as a means of ending the war, to revert to war against them was the massacre of Kebithigollewa where a bus packed with villagers had been attacked. Then President Mahinda Rajapaksa rushed to the scene of the tragedy and witnessed for himself the carnage caused and was determined to put an end to the savage war and from that moment on, there was no turning back.
The occasion for the commencement was hostilities was the Mavil Aru incident where a vital anicut had been blocked by the LTTE terrorists denying water to the people of the area.
Initially the Eastern Province was cleared flushing out the terrorists from their last remaining hideout at Thoppigala. The war thereafter shifted to the North and was fought with military precision as the saying goes until the final victory at Nandikadal in which the so-called ‘LTTE Supremo’ who wreaked havoc for well-nigh three decades met his Waterloo.
All efforts by both local and foreign agents to throw a wet towel on the Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces Mahinda Rajapaksa were of no avail and the war went on without interruption.
It is of significance that Ceylon Today’s precursors Weekend Standard and thereafter Sunday Standard encouraged the war effort from the very beginning, by its defence correspondent setting out the military campaigns of rulers of the country to free it from South Indian Tamil invaders the first of them being Sena and Guttaka who ruled for 22 years, 22 years after the demise of Devanampiya Tissa, in the article serialised in the Weekend Standard between 25 March 2006, and 29 April 2006 under the title ‘Saga of War and Peace’.
It describes the military campaigns led by great kings Dutugemunu, Walagamba, Dhatusena and Vijayabahu I to free the country from Tamil rule. In the third and final instalment of the article quoting C.W. Nicholas in ‘A Concise History of Ceylon’ it is mentioned: “An opportune time for a determined effort to expel the Cholas from Lanka presented itself and Vijayabahu took it. His operational plan provided for the delivery of a two-pronged converging attack.
One column (the western one) advanced the Kurunegala and Anuradhapura districts with Anuradhapura and Mantai as the objectives while the other column (the eastern one) moved up the east coast road swinging north-westward to capture Polonnaruwa.
The western column successively reduced the Chola forts at Nuvarakele (near Hettipola), Batalagoda, Venaruva (near Kurunegala), Menikdena, Dambulla, (near Maho), Nikaveratiya and Mahamadagalla (near Polpithigama) and then captured Anuradhapura and pushed forward to the great seaport Mahatittha (Mantai). The eastern column captured Sankamam (west of Tirukkoviland other places in the Eastern Province and turned inwards to the Mahaweli Ganga.
Vijayabahu went first to Mahiyangana, and having set up camp there, made his final dispositions for the capture of Polonnaruwa. When he had made progress towards the town and established a suitable position for assault in its neighbourhood, he ordered the attack to be launched.
The Cholas defeated in the ensuing battle which was fought outside the town, took refuge inside the fortress which was at once invested by Vijayabahu’s forces. The siege went on for one and a half months and the Vijayabahu captured the town by storm.
The Cholas at Polonnaruwa fought desperately but hopelessly, for they knew that no help could be expected from their homeland and that their retreat to the coast was already cut off. To them it was a choice between surrendering early and trusting to the Sinhala king’s mercy or of prolonging the struggle, suffering great casualties and bringing down upon themselves the wrath of the conqueror. It is a tribute to their courage and their loyalty to their king that they fought on till they were vanquished.
Vijayabahu now marched to Anuradhapura and entered the capital of his forefathers in triumph in 1070. Chola rule over Lanka had lasted seventy-seven years.”
This article was published with a map showing the marching of Vijayabahu’s armies from Mahanagakula in the South to Polonnaruwa named Jananathapura by the Cholas, Anuradhapura and finally pushing them to the sea from Manthai (Mannar).
Weekend Standard and Sunday Standard also published a large number of other articles, written by the same writer, describing the military campaigns of our rulers fighting the western invaders such as the Portuguese, to inspire those fighting the war against the LTTE.