Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Balraj had passed away due to natural causes, pro-LTTE sources have claimed. He was last stationed in the Vanni defences to halt marauding SLA units from breaking entry into LTTE-held Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu.
He had been under increasing pressure over the last few months as the SLA stepped up operations in Mannar, Vavuniya and Weli Oya. The pressure was on to demonstrate the once formidable strength of the LTTE in this sector, but successes came only in small measures.
Balraj was also the first commander of the Charles Anthony infantry unit, the first semi-conventional fighting force of the Tigers. He was accredited with the sea-borne landing at Kudarippu (and cutting off the A9) that paved the way for the fall of the Elephant Pass Garrison of the SLA in 2000.
Balraj, a former PLOTE cadre is originally from Puthukudiirippu and was a close associate of Mahendrarajah alias Mahaththaya. He joined LTTE after Mahaththaya's murder and won Prabhakaran's confidence and was later appointed 'Special Commander' for the Vanni to prevent LRRP operations against the Tiger leadership.
Balraj's demise comes at a particularly bad time for the Tigers. In recent months, Military Intelligence had confirmed that Balraj was receiving treatment for a cardiac ailment. He had obtained treatment at an Indian hospital at Narahenpita during the Cease-Fire Agreement with approval of the then Sri Lanka government. Balraj was once severely wounded in battle and one of his legs was almost amputated.
The reality is that Balraj and other leaders, including Prabhakaran, are nearing their shelf-life and have begun to ail as they get older and come under increasing pressure from the Sri Lankan military that has limited their freedom of movement. Balraj's last successful operation was at Elephant Pass 8 years ago. A number of his deputies of 'Lt. Col' rank have been wiped out by the SLA since then.
Tiger leaders trapped in parts of the Mullaithivu and Kilinochchi Districts live under constant fear of aerial raids and LRRP operations. They are also under tremendous time-pressure to deliver on their promise of Tamil Eelam before they die.
Posted by Defencewire at 9:41 PM
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