As history that never ends…. “I can do it” – Colonel Charles

Written by S. Pottu Amman

Today we are republishing the article written by Mr. S. Pottu Amman, head of the Intelligence Unit of the L.T.T.E in 2008, in remembrance of Colonel Charles.

That first week of 2008, was a time when the Mannar battlefield was under severe attack. I wanted to meet Commander Baanu. It was a journey where apart from our usual duties, we went to meet Baanu on my way and to see the situation in the battlefield. Meeting the Leader (Prabhakaran), to present my plan of my journey. The Leader raises his eyebrows: “Why do you want to go to Mannar now? What do you want to do there now?” When I answered his questions, knowing that I was ready, he said that the special teams of the enemy have taken hold of the Mannar battlefield. It is not safe to travel on the main road. I told him these are the usual moves of the enemy, the Leader told me decisively, that Baanu and Sornam, who are stationed there, have been told that the main road is not safe, so you don’t go.

The evening after our Leader prevented us from going to Mannar, the shocking news of the attack by our enemy reached us.

When I was thinking of the intelligence information our brother gave and how correct it was, I sought to find out who the victim of the attack was. The answer to my question came as a painful shock. Our Charles had had a heroic death. The leader of the Military Intelligence Unit, Commander our Charles had died as a hero.

At night, our leader remained alone and in pain due to the departure of Charles. When he was asked to come for the funeral of Charles, he said, “I want to remember his face the way I saw it last.” He also said, “the one who achieved is gone.” Without saying much, he took out and gave us something that was in his pocket. It was a computer typed copy of a report folded into four. This was the intelligence report Charles had sent three days back.

It was revealed that the special teams of the enemy were aiming to attack the main road, from behind the Mannar battlefield. This was a decisive report that contained information received from the important military intelligence unit.

Charles who predicted the enemy attacked on the Mannar main road, in his report, had fallen victim on the same road to the claymore attack of the enemy. What was the power that made him go to that place? Is it the merciless hand of fate?

There were the days, when the Indian Army had left our soil, and peace prevailed. It was the time when the L.T.T.E and the Premadasa government held talks. Everybody was wondering whether the Premadasa government would come forward and do something good for our people.

It was also the time, when the family of the Leader (Prabhakaran), that was split during the roundups of the Indian Army, had come together. – The report was received at that time. – A report that cannot be ignored by us all.

We had received the details of the plans of both the Minister of Defense at that time, Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne and the one incharge of the Intelligence unit in Palaly. The Udayan newspaper had published a short article about our leaders wife- Mathi Akka’s visit to the Nallur Kovil. The plan of Sri Lanka, was based on that article; their plans were to follow Mathi akkka, find the place of our Leader and kill our Leader.

This was the time when the insurgency of the JVP, in the south of Sri Lanka had been dealt with and the government had received new life and encouragement. In that same hope, they were moving with the hope of defeating our fight for liberation.

It was in the direct words of the Defense Minister, Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne, who was directly involved in quelling the JVP – the plan that was included in the report. The report was strong and clear. It was a direct command to follow Mathi akka, discover the place where the Leader lives and kill him.

The situation was clear. The Sinhalese did not carry out talks with honesty. It was clear that they were going in the path of deceit. The idea of the Sinhalese was to keep talking until he was killed and to hold talks until such time because it gave them an opportunity to kill.

It was a challenge to us, the fact that we knew Sri Lanka/s plan. Yet, what are we going to do? We knew what to do. Yes, we have to find an answer in the same way as theirs. How do we do it? Who will do it?

They have to be cornered in their city. We must prove that we can block their activities in Colombo as well.

Our Leader said this in his own words. This is what we need, skilled intelligence unit, that wasn’t only by name.

Until such time, we had not formed any sort of intelligence unit. We had it only in our minds, but not on an organized basis.  I was then reminded of Charles.

In 1988, I was travelling from Welioya to Jaffna, regarding work for the Jaffna district. We rested in a village in Visvamadu. One of my assistants Kili introduced me to Charles. At that time, Charles was one of the fighting cadres, of Kilinochchi district. I identified Charles in my first meeting itself. It will be hyperbole (exaggeration) to say that I identified all his skills. He was a cadre who had the courage to go to Colombo and return, carrying the appropriate Identity Card issued by the Sri Lankan government.

When I remembered what the Leader said, that I may have to do things in Colombo, on that day itself I took him over. He became a cadre in civil clothes without arms.

Charles, who had gone to Colombo during the time of the Indian Army, on some other work and somewhat familiarized himself, came forward – “ I can do it Amman,”  he said and stepped forward.

He was young and only 20 years old. With a heart full of anger, he journeyed forward to Colombo. Even now, I cannot forget that day. The train that stopped coming to Jaffna – the Yaldevi – took Charles from Chavahachcheri towards Colombo.

The train never came back. Charles returned as a hero. As one who made the world turn back and look towards their nation. He came back as one who had achieved it.

In 1990, Charles was in Colombo. He was a very young man. He did not have proper contacts. He was moving around aimlessly. In Colombo everything was in Sinhala. Unable to stay in Sinhala Colombo, he moved around a lonely young man.

Things did not work out well at the beginning of his trip to Colombo. In his initial trips to Colombo, the one who accompanied him, got off at the Colombo railway station and as he slowly walked away, he stood alone, rested for awhile and stayed in a known place and then he ran his activity.  

At one point in Colombo, Charles met a traitor who was also known in his village as one and tried to escape.  Charles deceived the traitor and escaped from him with a sigh of relief until the traitor got tired of chasing him. However he was unable to leave Colombo, as he had to perform his duty..

When Charles was indirectly involved and stayed in the battlefield, he was somewhat fortunate. He also has had the experience of being arrested by the ENDLF, on compulsory recruitment, while travelling, and also by PLOTE at Vavuniya, during the time of the Indian Army, then when he was going to Colombo, there again by the Sri Lankan intelligence unit at Colombo airport.

His ability to talk, his cover stories combined with his personality helped him to escape. His assistants were not always people of exemplary conduct. A businessman in Jaffna gave us a lot of promises. When the businessman was here, we went secretly, night after night towards Thondamaanaam and Atchuveli to meet him. The man promised  us that we can do things in Colombo but when Charles would go to Colombo, he would keep waiting at his doorstep without any help.

We met him, he would ask us to come in the evening or the following day. As days went on, he began to avoid meeting us at all. Although, he felt hopeless he used to go and sit at his doorstep. The Muslim gentleman of the next shop, who watched him daily said “Do not waste your time, he is a real cheat.”  When he heard these words he was discouraged and lost hope.

Some supporters who were aiming at plundering money, would raise the price to Rs 3,000/= for an item, when the actual value is only Rs 300/=. Charles would give what they requested, pretending not to know about it. Charles knew that the businessperson had links with the Sinhala police and the army.  He realized that their friendship was necessary for the safety of his activity, that money was the price he paid for it he believed, where as the businessman thinks that he was cheating Charles and had got the money little by little. As he became familiar with the people and places, he became matured in his secret activities. As his friends in Vanni and Jaffna gave him contacts, and places and people became known to him, Charles began to spread his wings in Colombo.

His motorbike would race on the roads, down the lanes and slum areas of the Sinhalese. In his journeys, when he is stopped by the police, he would relate stories or speed away and disappear.

 Suruli acted as an agent in Colombo for Charles, providing him with goods. Major Suruli had a heroic death, when he made a mistake as he was examining an explosive and it exploded. However, Maathavan master, continued his duties from this point, although he was discouraged and depressed, by the heroic death of Major Suruli.

Maathavan pushed  Natkunam, who was introduced by Geethan, to move forward . When Natkunam and  Varathan who was introduced by LTTE Ravi joined  Charles, rays of hope began to appear dispelling the darkness.

Varathan, was a valuable companion to Charles. A companion who cleared the path removing obstacles to the program of activities. As Varathan was familiar with Colombo, and knew the people, matters began to move fast.

Their victory target was already identified, because of Charles’ efforts. All they need to do was to accurately plan and implement it.

Planning… movements… black tigers …training-  the wheel of intelligence operations – moved forward. The operators and black tigers went.

It was a time when he had little knowledge gained by experience. A disturbing situation occured when the person chosen to do the task, slipped and receded.  Our plan was moving backwards. The plan moved forward, with quick training for the black tigers and other moves. Starting again from the place where we stopped with new plans we achieved victory! A rare victory!

As the whole world turned around to see Colombo, the Tamil Nation sailed in an ocean of happiness. A bomb was set in the capital city of Colombo, of the Sinhalese, who tried to block or destroy the struggle for liberation. It was a blow to them. “The enemy fell – Charles won!” Said his friends and embraced each other in happiness.

We moved fast, because the happiness and encouragement that our victory gave us, to match the idea Charles with Varathan’s efforts, a circle of supporters including Kuventhi, Ravi and Sister indra was formed. The preparations at the base matched with Charles’ speed – we achieved victory.

Like the first incident, this time too those who were involved in the activities, slipped and this caused a set back. Because of the lessons we learnt earlier, the 2nd black tiger Chandran arranged by Ahila, who was watching and waiting came forward. As Chandran came forward saying that everyman must have some sort of self respect, our plans moved forward without delay. Kuventhi drove the vehicle that carried the explosive with the inexperienced black tiger Chanran seated beside him. Charles followed on his motorcycle, to bring Kuventhi back. This time the Headquarters of the Joint Forces of Sri Lanka was destroyed.

When everybody was overjoyed with the victory achieved, this time also we had a setback. We thought that a vehicle carrying explosives weighing thousand kilos, nothing would be left as proof. But on the contrary our enemy was able to find the number plate of the vehicle of the black tigers which gave full evidence. When they looked out for Varathan, problems arose. Our hideouts were identified. Some who were with Sister Indra were arrested. Kuventhi, named himself after Chandran so as to remember him as the black tiger, Chandran of the Headquarters of the Joint Forces. Varathan asked Kuventhi to escape, took cyanide and had to a heroic death. The one side of the wheel intelligence unit, consisted of heroic deaths, arrests, torture, etc. On the other side there was agony filled with pain and sorrow – the network collapsed.

Young Charles, with fair siblings, was the fifth child and the pet in the family. Until he was a little older he used to hang on to his mother’s clothes and follow her. Like the other in the family he was bright in his studies but he would never set aside time for his studies as they did.  His mother feared that he would not do well in his studies.

As he grew older, getting permission from his mother to do things became less. At that time, his home town was Point Pedro, where there was a large army camp. It was one of the biggest Army camps in the North. The young people of the village stood with the tigers around the camp, guarding it. From the time he was young, he had links with the members of the team of sentries posted at the military camp and his mother became anxious because his studies were being neglected. soon, Setting aside time for his studies completely stopped. His mother used to say with affection and stern words, “If you are going to be like this, when your sisters go to work, you will be their driver!”. However, When he got good results at the G.C.E O/L, the whole family was proud of him. Only his mother would say, “If you had paid a little more attention!” Which was a mother’s usual desire.

Not even a week after his O/L exams, the bird flew away from the nest! Charles had joined the movement.

Charles’s brother, during this time in 1980s, had given his name to join the movement along with his friend, Johnny. He did not want to go without telling his mother. When he came over to inform his mother, like all mothers she cried and pleaded with him, and stopped him from going. Charles did not face this kind of situation. Even after 15 years he used to make fun of his older brother, he would say, “Here’s the person, who came to inform his mother, even to join the movement.”

His relationship with his family members was very strange. More than their relationship as father, mother, and son, everyone in his family was under his control. Such was his personality.

It was amazing, and humorous for us to see him as a big leader and his parents and elder siblings giving into his control and authority, like those who are newly recruited to the movement.

As he grew older and became more mature, Charles became the leader of his family. It came to a point where all members of his family would come to him for advice on any issue. It was joy to watch the way he moved with his parents and siblings. Unlike the normal relationship between one’s parents and siblings they would get together like friends and have fun.

The role his parents and family played joining hands with Charles, and the duties they performed for liberation is another episode. They considered Charles’s friends as their own children and siblings and shared in all their joys and sorrows.

Charles’s birthday coincides with the day when we get together and remember in silence all our friends who had died heroic deaths. So every birthday was spent quietly. Even his mother’s desire to feed him and their family’s feelings towards him on his birthday would change because of us, they would take it as another day.

Charles lived as one who never gave up his desire for the struggle for liberation at any stage, for any reason, even for his young lover, who was a relative as well. At the camp, when they debated on the idea, whether it is best for the cadres to marry other cadres, Charles felt its impact and went to his lover. During their discussion, he tried to convince her to become a cadre, while she tried to get him out of the movement. But love failed. NO NO….Charles’s desire for the fight for liberation won. Their love affair stopped and Charles’s struggle for liberation continued.

After that he buried himself in his duties. For sometime, he did not find time to worry about his own life or to have a love affair. Time passed… after he returned from Batticoloa, where he was successful in his activities, his marriage took place.

He wanted a proposed marriage, probably because of his previous experience, or maybe because of his dedication to his continuous responsibilities, he became naturally inclined towards it. He took as his wife, a cadre from their medical unit and lived happily with three beautiful children. He was a good head of the family, who had equal respect to his partner and shared his life and his responsibility with her.

When his life partner had to be away from him for her medical studies for many months, he was a good father to his children and a good husband. He never let his duties interfere with his family life or vice versa, but his life moved on happily.

Charles was a leader at the Intelligence Unit, he began to work as a leader for one of the divisions of my External Intelligence Unit. They experience he gained from the victories in Colombo, and the encouragement given by the Leader and other leaders were a great support to him in his tasks.

Charles’s work at the Intelligence Unit began with, training of cadres and establishing bases in enemy territory. The authorities in Colombo, as well as their counter intelligence unit to defeat our activities was not the same as before. They had begun to expand their activities/operations.

Unlike earlier, he had to give intense training and instructions to those involved in our operations. So with training….intelligence sessions…new strategies…Charles’s personality developed. Charles’s incomparability in training the Black Tigers, and other member and the way he was moved with them and encouraging them was an example to all other leaders. He would joke, have fun with them, discipline and advise them while training them.

While in the field and while training alike, he would move closely with them and win them over.

Charles’s time would be spent at his chief training instructor Premanth’s training grounds and the firing ranges. During these times, he would build his relationship with the black tigers and evaluate them as well while his worked progressed. Whether it was a situation where you had to tie a rope around the waist of a person who cannot swim and let him down into the sea, or compete with young cadres in physical fitness and skills in using weapons or eating together and have fun and fellowship, Charles would move in such a way that he became a part of them.

In his military operations, he would get to know their condition, their suitability and then make his plans, and select the explosions. Charles would see whether each cadre could handle a particular weapon, in a particular way. He will never send them, by just putting a weapon in their hands.

Charles’s strategy and the things/items will be suitable to the person for a particular reason. It will match his acquaintance and evaluation of the cadres.

I personally do not know, Lieutenant Kaavalan, Lieutenant Suganthan and Lieutenant Weeramaravan who worked and had their heroic deaths with him. However, they would have been our future achievers. Charles’s choice/selection would have been such.

1997 was the time when we withdrew from Jaffna and made our base in the Wanni. The enemy had started operation Jayasikuru. To carry out operations in Colombo the environment in this base (Wanni) posed many obstacles. At the same time, the environment on the base at Batticoloa was favourable to carry out our operations. So we decided that one of our leaders should operate from there. When we hesitated to send Charles who had no experience of the environment in the Batticaloa base – he was determined and said, “I can do it.” Charles’s set off to Batticaloa as the leader of Internal Operations and the intelligence unit there.

In Batticaloa, Nixon had made the initial contacts and Gandhi built up the intelligence. Charles began to operate from this point. Charles brought the situation at the base in Batticaloa under his leadership. Bombs blasted in the towns of the Sinhalese as a retaliation of the military activities of the army, who took pride in defeating the LTTE. Not one or two, but many of the enemy’s targets fell.

Charles’s journey to victory progressed in the network established by Gandhi and Sinnavan, linking Colombo and Batticaloa. Charles’s personality and military plans brought the crown of victory to the network established by Gandhi.

His motorbike would race from Karadiyanaaru to Palukaam, all the time. The Intelligence Unit in Batticaloa began to develop as he encouraged his leaders Ilango, Mathan, Arulraj and Thooyamani master with his questions, commands and direct guidance.

He built his network by infiltrating and destroying the enemies and traitors. In whatever manner their intelligence network or moves maybe, to coordinate them and make it successful is the crown of victory. Charles was clever to undertake and complete chain of activities to victory.

Like all roads lead to Rome, all resources moved towards victory. Newton’s network would be waiting for a way to transport the items (explosives) after spying systematically. Anbu will be ready with this team after training them. Gandhi’s network, whose goal was transporting the items will be waiting to finish their task. Kapila Amman will have a method/way of pushing the black tiger towards the target overcoming all obstructions.

All of these efforts had to be brought together and pushed towards action. If you ask him, how to do this? Can you do it? Charles would answer, “I can!” and he will take charge of the whole operation. He will coordinate the spying-transporting items/explosives and sending man power altogether and he will not rest until he has achieved his victory, nor will he allow others who are involved with it to rest. The uniqueness of Charles in his ability to be gentle and at times be harsh after giving instructions to do things, and get people to do the tasks assigned to them.

In the Intelligence Unit, Charles shone as a special individual, with his personality and achievement. The man power and other resources joined together with that bright light. By drawing all primary resources to himself, he says, “I can do it!” and Charles had the ability to guarantee a victory.

A network was built around Negombo, and after spying, transport of items and manpower all fell in place, within and outside the base, the operation at Katunayake was a pressing issue on Vinayagam’s shoulders. Vinayagam crossed the military boundary and was going up and down towards Arripu to Mannar and Anbu’s training camp in Mullativu.

Vinayagam, unable to share his work, carried his burdens all alone, when those who went with him had heroic deaths during the cordoned search. At the appropriate time Charles arrived from Batticaloa, to put the bridle on Vinayagam and take care of him with love. “Why are you running around Amman, I’ll take care of it”, said Charles and took over.

Charles’s speedy plans, together with Vinayagam’s friendship, made the work move fast. At this moment, when Chetty, who was appropriated by Vinayagam as the Base Leader, had a heroic death, Charles stepped forward and said, “I can do it, Amman!” When Muththappan, who was under him took charge, the operations continued. Together with the plan and with the Leader’s suggestions, the use of long range heavy weapons, strategies for night firing and selecting suitable explosives… Which were in our thoughts, took shape when Charles took over.

When Charles took charge, plan moved with new speed. In an operation, as usual finances, documents, technology and all the network helped ours move to gain success. With the team that attacked gaining new strength, the victory of our black tigers in Katunayake became history.

Charles was very strong in maintaining the fundamental secrets of the Intelligence Unit. Like his achievements, he was popular for his anger. Bharathi (Indian poet) said, “Show anger when necessary”. Those who are tolerant of those who make mistakes, specifically in relation to intelligence activities and military strategy, need to learn from Charles to be stern and firm.

Someone will carelessly announce a secrecy message through their communication equipment, without using their code sheet. Then he would be reprimanded and shaken up by Charles to the extent that even to announce a simple message, such as, ‘we need a little petrol’, or ‘bring the umbrella it’s going to rain’, he would look for the code sheet.

Sometimes they would have indentified each other, or would have had a chance to identify themselves. Charles would explode in anger. The Leader of the particular camp would say, ‘I don’t want this responsibility let me go’, or when he (Charles) visited he would be more vigilant, not allow them to see each other.

Just as we put too much of salt, sometimes when cooking, Charles’s anger too would go beyond its boundary. “Didn’t they file the report before the deadline?” – without thinking who is in front of him, words would explode. Files would fly. Then Pottu Amman will be needed to make peace.

It is in his blood. The natural trait of Charles is to keep moving forward without meeting defeat and always trying to succeed. Even in normal sports like swimming or a ball game, he tries to avoid defeat. Although his natural trait is the basis for his many victories even amongst this friend his stubbornness would show, and burst out. Charles would often be confused whether to discuss with others and make a decision, or to decide by himself beforehand, and give orders.

In 1991, he had taken a house as the headquarters for the operation of the Joint Forces. Without discussing with Varathan he made an order as to who were going to stay there. As a result their relationship became strained.

Likewise in 2001, without consulting Kaanan, the Commander of the team for the operation at Katunayake, he removed Kaanathan the 2nd in command, and appointed Muhilan. Then matters became difficult.

His plans clearly shared the necessity to gain victory and his desire to put the country first before men. Charles would give priority to new ideas in the military plans. It was his nature to think differently and implement his ideas in different ways, before following to the normal way. This characteristic in him brought us victory in many places. 

The planning of Katunayake; small team of spies went in and came out of the airport easily, so it was confirmed that there wouldn’t be any problems in sending in the bigger teams. At this stage, the debate began on the best way to destroy the aircrafts in the hanger and the on the runway.

It was suggested to go near the airplanes and place the time bombs, and if an emergency arises to leave on the airplane so that the explosives attached to the body will blast.

Charles argued it was far better to attack the airplanes from a distance by using dongans (40mm grenade launcher) and L.A.W (light Anti-tank weapons). “I can do it! Leave the training to use dongans to me,” said Charles. I was on Charles’s side. What happened at Katunayake proved Charles right.

Charles’s skill was demonstrated in his forward moves when he realized that even in a strong secure environment there will be a weak situation. Also in the way he pushed forward those who were involved with him, to do what was assigned to them.

Muththappan found a place to lay a land mine in Rajagiriya and informed about it. In Charles’s mind there is a change of plan. Charles commanded Muthappan to, “look for a suitable place for the team to stand in position…. Look for a house to hide.” Muthappan answered, “That is difficult, it is not possible.” “In that case, I’ll send someone else to do the job. – I can do it!” told Charles harshly. Then Muththappan tried once again. The day that followed and the plan that was drawn proved that Charles’s hopes were right. In a complex military plan, problems do arise. If there are negative thoughts regarding the outcome to face it with courage, present positive ideas and make them go ahead with the plan. You need a mind that is strong like a lion. Charles had that kind of mind and will power. This is the reason for his many victories.

There was another incident. In 1998, the Sri Lanka Jayasikuru forces were all ready to capture Kilinochchi. The Sinhalese leaders in Kandy, wanted to make it a political victory and celebrate the 50th Independence Day of Sri Lanka, as a day when they defeated the Tamils.

A plan was drawn, to teach a lesson to the Sinhalese in Kandy, and to give a strong blow to the core of the Sinhala leaders who tried to enslave the Tamils. When we asked, “Is it possible within a few days, with such short notice?” Charles answered, “I can do it!” and the plan was made speedily.

It was a situation when even the black tigers who have had completed their training were not ready. Charles’s immediate assistants and cadres who were doing other tasks were brought together  and an instant black tiger team was formed.

It was an afternoon when the plan was ready, and a few minutes left for the vehicle carrying explosives to leave. The afternoon news of the Sri Lanka radio broadcast announced, ‘the liberation tigers were placing explosives in a vehicle in Batticaloa. According to this information all the forces have been alerted to capture the vehicle.” This was the headline of the news. Now this was a difficult situation. As mentioned in the news broadcast, at Palugama in Batticaloa, Charles and his friends were engaged in the final checking of the vehicle carrying the explosives.

This could be their tactic, to disturb us, so that we would abandon our plan or it could be a true report of the Intelligence Unit, which could have leaked to the news broadcasting station that announced this news.

Another intelligence report regarding this matter as received from a different source of secret information, at the same time. So it was clear that our enemy had gotten to know our plan and was now ready to defeat us.

In the meantime another complication arose, as some of the black tigers who were moving towards the target were captured by the enemy. The leader in charge of the operation and the black tigers had gone to meet each other in a certain area. Just before the time he was to meet the black tiger, the one in charge of the operation called Charles to confirm that the particular cadre was captured. The one who was captured knew the operator, the other team members, the target and the plan. It was a time that danger and pressure of the situation had reached a high point.

For ordinary people, it would have been a situation to stop and postpone the operation. But Charles was no ordinary person. He had the ability to think positively of the consequences and not negatively. He was an ironman who was fearless of the consequences. The plan moved on with a few security measures which were taken hurriedly. In the same village which the enemy announced in the radio news, on the same road that the enemy expected, and on the same day, the same plan was carried out – Victory was ours.

It was a victory of continued efforts of the black tigers who were close o Charles and understood him, and the long term secret operator of the intelligence unit. It was a victory gained by Charles’ s tireless work and will power. It was the result of his guidance and the victory gave identity to his personality.

Charles remained the chief operator if the Intelligence Unit. Though not on the administration level, on the practical level, he was next to me shouldering responsibility and made the plans move ahead in breath taking speed.

I feel heavy hearted when I think of him moving out of the Intelligence field to another field.

It was a time when his responsibility towards the network took precedence over his normal relationships. Then our country was affected by the Tsunami, even our own people were overcome by sorrow. Charles had earned the respect of our Leader for his perseverance. Charles had matured enough that he was efficient and had the ability to give shape to an idea which was conceived in our Leader’s mind, on how to draw a military plan.

Our Leader decided to assign an individual unit to Charles, who possessed the skill, knowledge and ability to handle a single administrative unit.


During the time of peace, a businessman from Colombo arrived and said that we can achieve great victories with a little amount of money. In his language it was a little amount of money. But what he requested was thirty million – he was none other than the businessman of Thondamanaaru, who in 1991 gave us false promises to help us and met Charles in Colombo many times and made him go behind him, but cheated him at the end. Now when Charles came to see him personally in Killinochchi, this is what he said, ’go and find out from Charles about how I have helped him, the role I planned in the attack on the Jointed Forces Headquarters and about me.”

Hidden behind this human was not only the deceit of those people whom we met, but Charles’s history and experience in his long life at the Intelligence unit. Apart from the attacks and the military activities the base of the intelligence unit and its meticulous work related to infiltration and changing minds was not foreign to Charles.

Another fact is that Charles was under constant pressure because of military activities. There wasn’t sufficient time to look into the intelligence work done at the base. One cannot deny the fact that his nature to be ‘cut and dry’ with is work – his way of demanding “Can you do it or not? Tell me now itself.” It was hard for him to be directly involved and at the same time be involved in his intelligence work.

Charles had achieved much in making the leaders of the Intelligence Unit, under his care, understand and learn the techniques of deep intelligence work, planning operations and making them move forward to bring victory.

We got to know useful men in the enemy’s military headquarters and the network of the enemy’s intelligence unit. Charles’s leadership and success in changing their minds, added strength to our liberation, and his intelligence moves are golden pages in the history of his intelligence work. Although the amount of pressure in the intelligence unit, under normal circumstances cannot be underestimated when there is an error in the moves of the intelligence unit, outside pressures mount.

During the enemy’s whole cordon search and crisis situations made by special search officers, we had to move with weapons, explosives or other plans. When we think of those moves while we are here (vanni) we can rarely sleep. Also sometimes if the particular black tigers are not used to the lifestyle of the city, it will be worse.

If we try to explain the pressure we faced it will be a long story. When this becomes the norm, my mind would look for support to face these pressures. Charles was my support when facing these pressures.

Charles had an aesthetic mind. He was interested in growing flower plants and caring for pets. By nature he had the ability to model camps, homes and other buildings. Tight schedules prevented him from spending time pursuing these interests, but whenever the appropriate time came, he displayed his love for aesthetics.

The writings of Charles who was interesting in reading and who possessed the ability to write, made good lessons in intelligence work and organizing administration for the cadres. At this point, Charles’s article on the topic ‘Leader’s Policy’, in the magazine released on account of our Leader’s 50th birthday, must be mentioned. The article revealed Charles’ understanding of our Leader, along with his solid writing skills.

When he gives orders to those who worked with him, he will lead them fully towards the goal. His orders will be exact, without having room to be influenced by feeling or opportunities to make other choices.

He gave priority to the struggle for liberation when he gave orders to his subordinates. Similarly he gave priority to his own life struggle for liberation.

 As one who was operating directly from the field and as the one who co-ordinates from the base, the experience he gained were many. He possessed an encyclopedia of knowledge, gained from experiences in the intelligence unit of the Tamil Eelam, and their military activities.

His thinking revolved around deactivating his enemies using intelligence methods. His thoughts were constantly filled with making plans to move the black tigers towards victory.

He should have lived longer and achieved much more. His thoughst and activities in the military intelligence unit would have been directed towards military victories that could/would have been the key to Tamil Eelam.  He had the knowledge, ability and the practical experience for it.

Charles who had predicted an enemy attack on the main road in Mannar and reported it before hand, fell victim to a claymore attack on the same road. Knowing the impending damage, what was the power that led him to travel towards the spot? Is it the merciless hand of fate?

No it was the task, related to the cadres who were guided by him. They had moved far away from the soil of their motherland, and were waiting in enemy territory. He felt their plight, their anxiety; the crisis that confronted them….. the enemy’s plan around them…he knew all of these. He knew they needed his guidance when they were facing a crisis.

He knew that for a young cadre who was frozen inside the enemy fortress his leader’s inquiring voice – “How are you?” His concern, “Do you need anything?” ­– and strict orders – “You have to do it some how,” worked liked magic to quicken his action.

That need and his binding duty – made him make that journey towards Mannar. His timely duty made him put aside thoughts for his own security and travels towards Mannar.

When Charles was in Colombo as a young field cadre, when the black tigers who were chosen fell back he was prepared to act for them. That was the high point of his willingness to sacrifice his life to fulfill the task. Similarly, now as well, he put aside the thought of danger and forged ahead to fulfill his task.

While he was traveling with a black tiger in a vehicle, they met the target unexpectedly – on that day that black tiger ignored Charles’s order to blast it and sent Charles back to us.  The black tiger intended for this work to go on. Charles lived to make it a reality and lived for it. He died a great hero.

He lived as a black tiger…lived because of black tigers…lived with the black tiger, lived for the black tigers….was one with them until the end. Charles will make the dream of the liberation a reality and live as the hero of history.

As history that never ends…..”I can do it!” – Colonel Charles

  • S. Pottu

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