|Death of top commander a big blow to LTTE|
|Thursday, 22 May 2008|
By: P K Balachandran
COLOMBO: The death of “Brigadier” Balraj, one of the Special Commanders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of a heart attack somewhere in the Wanni on Tuesday was a major blow to the rebel group already short of top commanders.
Since the pro-LTTE websites have not mentioned the exact place of his death, it is presumed that the 43-year-old may have died while commanding his troops somewhere in the frontlines, which now stretch over 200 km from Weli Oya in the east to Mannar in the west.
Despite a major heart surgery in 2003, and a three-month hospitalization this year, Balasegaram Kandiah, alias Balraj, remained a committed fighter to the last. During the ongoing operations, he commanded troops in Mannar and Weli Oya.
“He inspired his fighting cadres by jumping into the thick of battle himself, and leading them upfront,” a knowledgeable Tamil source told Express. “While other commanders might stay in the rear and exhort their cadres to move forward, Balraj would be in the forefront exhorting his cadres to follow him!”
“The LTTE still has about five to six commanders of the caliber of Balraj, but more will be needed to face the Sri Lankan troops over the extended front continuously,” the source added.
“At no point of time earlier had there been such a wide and continually active front. Earlier, the battles were confined to a small area and commanders could be changed, rested and re-deployed,” the source said. “But that is not possible now because there is a need for a top commander everywhere all the time. This puts a tremendous pressure on the existing stock of top commanders. This is why Balraj will be sorely missed.
Even thought he was an expert in guerilla tactics, Balraj still believed in the efficacy of conventional warfare, and was the first commander of the first conventional regiment of the LTTE – the Charles Antony Brigade, which he led from 1991 to 1993 and then again from 1995 to 1997.He took part in most operations of the LTTE in northern Sri Lanka since the 1990s, and led the brilliant amphibian assaults in Operation Unceasing Waves III of 2000, which resulted in the capture of the strategic Elephant Pass.
After suffering a heart attack in 2003, Balraj again had a brush with death in 2004 when a tsunami struck his camp at Vaharai in Batticaloa district.(Courtesy : Newindpress )
|Last Updated ( Sunday, 04 January 2009 )|
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