Saturday, 25 June 2016

His Royal Highness,The Tamil Tiger - FICTION

Chapter 10

Power Hungry

Within a single day word of Vasantha Velautham’s punishment spread throughout the Jaffna peninsula like wildfire. Many of the rumors had been deliberately inflated  to strike fear into the hearts of those who still thought to defy the Tamil Tigers. One account claimed that the poor principal had been shaved and left naked in a cell in Kilinochchi. Another rumor that circulated in the northern coastal areas claimed that the word ‘ELITE’ had been branded into her back with a heated iron rod, and the rumor mill tended to exaggerate the amount of the fine from sixteen million to sixty million rupees. All agreed, however, that if she didn’t pay the fine, she would be tied to a light pole in front of the Vembady Girls’ College and executed.
The sordid rumors were the work of Lieutenant Earless, the Political Head of Jaffna. Other than the rumors, not a single newspaper dared to touch on the subject. Instead, the Tamil Tigers propaganda arm used local village level officials scattered all over the peninsula to churn out these rumors and terrorize the local populace. Indeed, when the target was someone from the high class—or elite society—the rumor mill became particularly vicious. The Principal was no exception to this rule.
But the propaganda arm of the Tigers could not squash the spread of how the girls, led by Monitor Sendhoory, had shamed the Minister of Political Affairs and the Tamil Tigers publically. Within twelve hours, every school, every class, and every student had heard many of the details of the episode. Every question asked by the girls and the Tamil Tiger responses—or the lack of them—was recounted again and again from student to student. Nearly all the teachers and other staff supported the student’s revolt, thinking it a golden opportunity to exact a bit of behind the scenes revenge for the exorbitant amount of taxes the Tamil Tigers took out of their salary each month.
Teaching came to a standstill as teachers and students alike became vocal in denouncing the Tamil Tiger insurgents and their murdering leader, His Royal Highness. A number of students somehow managed to get a picture of Sendhoory which they promptly inflated and had ironed onto their uniforms, her face becoming a rallying banner for the angered students. In many places, her picture was pinned like a trophy to bulletin boards and classroom walls.
Student associations in the name of Sendhoory cropped up in every school and some had the view of joining these groups into a single cohesive unit to protest the wrongful imprisonment of Mrs. Velautham. By noon on Friday, informational pamphlets regarding a protest march to be held next Tuesday in the City of Jaffna were distributed throughout each school. The entire region seethed with anger and resentment.
It didn’t take long for intelligence reports about the protest march and other acts of revolt to begin flooding the Ministry of Political Affairs in Kilinochchi. One report put the estimate of students preparing to participate in the protest march at over fifty thousand. That alone spurred His Royal Highness into action. He called an urgent meeting with the Minister of Political Affairs.
As soon as the Smiling Minister received the summons he wasted no time in answering the call. He rushed out to his green Mitsubishi Pajero and ordered his driver to make all haste for the secret underground bunker where His Royal Highness resided. Bodyguards both preceded and followed him in motorcycles and jeeps. He was in such haste that he even passed up an opportunity to kill a couple of wild pigs that they startled along the road. Normally, the pigs made fine eating, and the Minister had never before passed on an opportunity to kill one before. Until now. He knew how precarious the situation was…how precarious his situation was.
When the convoy reached the outer two mile perimeter, they were stopped by His Royal Highness’ security guards. The Minister’s personal bodyguards were detained and ordered to stand down. They milled around for a bit until finally settling under the shade of some trees to wait. Each kept a wary eye out for cobras known to infest this part of the jungle. The Minister was taken by bicycle the rest of the way.
Once they neared the bunker and the little red house atop it, security guards quickly and thoroughly frisked the minister, taking away his loaded sidearm. No one entered the presence of His Royal Highness with a loaded firearm.
One of the guards accompanied the Minister inside the nearly empty house. Only a large iron door that protected a zigzagging stairway showed any evidence of use. The guard pulled the door open with a grunt and motioned for the Minister to descend.
When he reached the small sitting room that the staircase spilled out into, he made his way with sure steps to His Royal Highness’ office and found his leader already waiting for him. His leader’s wife in sari dress leaned silently against one wall, her two violete pottus on her forehead a potent reminder to all about her matrimonial status.
His Royal Highness looked up, his face stormy. “Idiot!” he yelled. “All of Jaffna is in an uproar against us.”
The Smiling Minister stood with hands folded respectfully, but he couldn’t quite control his shaking body as he heard these words.
His Highness slammed a fist onto his desk. “Fifty thousand students are planning to attend this protest march! They will rail against us! They will rail against me!” With every word, his voice rose higher. The Minister cowed before the rage of his leader, not daring to talk until told to. “Stupid fool! You erred in not shooting that whore of a girl, Sendhoory, dead on the spot. No one would dare challenge me if her blood had been splattered all over their precious school!”
The Minister continued to stare at his leader, not sure how to respond.
“What is wrong with you?” His Highness growled. “Tell me what that idiot, Lieutenant Earless, is doing in Jaffna about this?”
“Your Majesty, the Cease Fire Agreement is still in effect, so we couldn’t shoot the girl no matter how much I wanted to do so—not with the Sri Lankan army waiting on the very doorsteps of the Vambady Girl’s College! Later, it became even more difficult when the army brought in twenty thousand more troops. Now, we can’t get near the school.” He rubbed his nose nervously. “Lieutenant Earless has had to take alternative steps to rectify the situation.”
“What steps?”
“Your Majesty, he has moved his reserves, nearly two hundred men, to Point Pedro and Tellippalai in the northern part of the peninsula.”
“The usual, Sir! Diplomacy through terror!”
“Very well. This needs to happen without delay. Do you understand, Minister?”
“Certainly, Your Majesty. By Monday afternoon, our flag will once again fly high over the Jaffna District. No one will think to bare their teeth at us again—we will have plucked them all out!”
Orders went out to Lieutenant Earless given him carte blanche to do whatever he must to bring the region back under control. He was to show no mercy—not even to female students of any age. If needed, he was authorized to call upon the elite Black Tiger assassins in Kilinochchi to assist him. Everyone hoped the suicide assassins under His Royal Highness’ direct control would not be needed. These radical zealots, as history already knew, could create tremendous amounts of chaos in just a short amount of time. Many previous assassinations could be attributed to these radicals.
Since its inception, the Tamil Tiger insurgency has always used gun diplomacy to eliminate enemies, big and little, that dared to stand against it. His Royal Highness knew no other way, and indeed cared not to know another way. He felt certain that a well placed bullet and the right propaganda could win him his objectives. His success has been likened to Joseph Goebbels who ran the Nazi propaganda machine during World War II. Many of those who fell under the sway of his power and bullying tactics worshiped him as a sun god, believing him divinely able to liberate the Tamil people from the Sri Lankan genocidal Sinhala government. They would die for him. Indeed, many had already.
Lieutenant Earless informed all village level officials to take severe action against anyone who tried to participate in the proposed protest march this coming Tuesday. No one thought that ‘severe punishment’ meant anything less than murder and execution without mercy.
An undercurrent of anticipation permeating the atmosphere that Monday energizing the many students, dressed in tidy uniforms, as they rushed about to get to school. One young girl dressed in a white skirt, white shoes and socks, and a tie walked quickly down a gravel road to catch the school bus that would take her to Point Pedro. She felt the excitement too, and the heavy blue bag full of books and a lunch bent her back as she labored along, hardly slowed her steps. Still, Janani Sukumar had to bite back a startled yelp of surprise as a jeep slid to a halt right next to her, spraying her ankles with flying dust.
A young woman wearing a brown sari trimmed in black opened the rear door. Janani noticed a jasmine flower garland wrapped around the other woman’s hair bun. “Younger Sister, do you know Mrs. Kamalam Ambalam?” the woman in the car asked.
The sweet order of the jasmine garland made Janani smile. “No. I know of no one in this area by that name,” she said.
The other woman’s heavy eyebrows furrowed in doubt. “Are you sure?”
“Quite sure.” She glanced at the garland again. “I really like the way your garland smells.”
The muscular woman in the jeep laughed. “Thank you. Mrs. Ambalam is a science teacher at Methodist Girls’ College.”
Janani blinked in confusion. “Really? I attend school there. I can assure you that there is no one there by that name.”
Without warning, the woman in the brown sari snapped a hand out and grabbed Janani by the arm. Before the young girl could even cry out in protest, she was yanked into the back seat of the jeep, her blue bag falling to the ground outside with a dull thud. Another woman in the front seat twisted around as Janani started to shout and jammed a wadded cloth deep into their captive’s mouth, silencing her.
“We know you!” the female Tamil Tiger hissed angrily. “We know that you presided over a meeting that condemned the Tamil Tigers and our leader, His Royal Highness! You encouraged everyone to partake in the protest march tomorrow against us!” She slapped Janani hard across the face. “You’re a traitor wanting us to free a traitor!”
The full impact of her situation descended upon Janani like a tiger leaping out of ambush. She kicked violently at the woman wearing the garland, knocking her back. She reached for the cloth in her mouth, but the other female Tiger punched her hard in the side of the head. Her head snapped to the side and a groan of pain seeped through the cloth in her mouth. The woman in the front seat cursed loudly and leaped into the back seat, pinning Janani to the cushions. The woman with the jasmine garland twisted Janani’s flailing arms behind her back and deftly tied them together with a coil of rope.
Then the two women began to pummel Janani viciously. Blows to the teenager’s face, her chest, her stomach, and neck fell fast and thick. Her muffled screams could barely be heard above the grunts of the punching women. One of her ribs cracked under the impact, the sharp point poking at her lungs making it difficult to breath. Janani’s struggles weakened, but the blows continued to rain upon her.
“Lieutenant,” a male voice from the front said into a phone. “We’ve got the pretty pigeon who organized the protest meeting at the Methodist Girls’ College last Friday.”
“Good, sergeant. We are watching the school as we speak, and the students and teachers are all in the auditorium for a meeting. Their principal is going to address the students, so delay until I give you the order.”
“Yes sir! We will just meander a bit until we receive your signal.”
“Stay alert. So far the Sri Lankan army hasn’t gotten wind of our plans, but that could change any second, Sergeant. Wait…it looks like the principal has commenced addressing the students. You know what to do.”
“Yes sir!”
Even as the car swerved towards the college, the barely conscious Janani knew she was doomed. The car slid to a halt soon after, and a strong arm dragged the battered girl from the car and threw her up against a light pole that overlooked the street.
Lieutenant Earless was already there, barking orders. Her gag was placed more firmly in her mouth and she was bound to the light pole. Tears streaked her eyes as she glanced frantically around, looking for a friendly face, and finding only angry bitterness or reluctant sympathy from the civilian onlookers. She stared at the college in the vain hope someone would come forth and rescue her from this nightmare. But it wasn’t meant to be. She rested her bruised and swollen head against the pole and closed her eyes.
There had been a time when Janani thought His Royal Highness the Tamil Tiger was an incarnation of God Muruka. She had even flirted with the idea of joining the Black Tigers to do her part in freeing her people from the Sinhala government of Sri Lanka. But as soon as the Cease Fire Agreement had gone into effect, the Tamil Tiger’s true colors had come through. She remembered being disheartened at the atrocities the Tigers perpetuated on their own people. Softly, her swollen lips unable to form the words properly because of the gag, she began to sing to herself the first Saiva song in the ‘Thiruneettu Chapter,’ a Hindu religious song by Saint Sambanthar.
A few of the older people in the watching crowd pressed their palms together and pleaded, “Oh Lord! Please take this girl to your paradise.”
The woman with the jasmine garland wrapped around her hair yelled, “Traitor! Traitor!” she placed a placard at her feet, a condemnation of the girl as a traitor to the Tamil Tigers and to the freedom war.
Lieutenant Earless stalked around to the front and drew his pistol. Then with hardly a blink and no compassion at all, he shot Janani Sukumar in the forehead twice. Her head jerked weirdly and her eyes popped open as if in surprise. Blood spattered over the pole and cement behind her and began to ooze profusely down her face, staining her white shirt darkly.
It seemed that before the sound of the second shot had even disappeared, the Tamil Tiger assassins had piled into their vehicles and had disappeared.
Around fifteen citizens had witnessed the brutal execution. Most gapped in profound shock and dismay, and not a one could force a word out through tight throats and dry lips. People came running from everywhere, many fearing that the dead girl might be one of their own family members.
But this was just the first elimination. Rumors spread that Lieutenant Earless’ men ranged all over the region kidnapping every boy and girl they could find that they felt had any hand in the next day’s protest rally. Each kidnapped victim was similarly tied to a light pole and executed publically. So quickly was this done that the Sri Lankan army couldn’t mobilize fast enough to put a stop to it. Janani was just the first. Other names became known as the propaganda mill of the Tamil Tigers began to spread rumors. Lokan Thillai, for example, the head prefect of Union College was killed at the KKS-Moolai intersection. In the end, the rumors told of forty-two students who had been kidnapped and executed. “But the actual number did not exceed the fingers on a hand,” a newspaper reporter whispered to his friend.
The people of Jaffna took to the streets in a panic. Parents tried to get frantically to their children’s schools to take them home. Throughout the Jaffna peninsula, parents ran frantically down the roads and lanes with frighten children in tow, and   to protect their children hiding. By ten o’clock that morning all schools became empty without students. For two weeks not a single student attended school.

Monday’s frightening panorama declared that His Royal Highness the Tamil Tiger who took up arms for liberating his own community from the atrocities and carnage of the majority Sinhalese has forgotten his strong conviction and unyielding holy war against the Sinhalese committing genocide. In the long run his convictions changed; his character changed; he didn’t care about his killing his umbilical cord brothers and sisters because to save his uncrowned royal status, His Royal Highness, he had to prolong the civil war under pretext of agreements and kill his own community members branding them traitors. 

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