November 27, 1965|
Kokkuththoduvai, Sri Lanka
|Died||May 18, 2008
Mullaithivu, Sri Lanka
|Known for||Conventional warfare
Attack on Elephant Pass
Balasegaram Kandiah was born to Kandiah and Kannagi. Balraj was the youngest of a family of four boys and one girl. Balraj had his primary education at Kokkuthoduwaai in Mullaitheevu district and secondary education at Pulmoddai in the Trincomalee district. Balraj passed his O levels and his parents were very keen to send him to university but this didn't work out as there too many riots in the country. Balraj could speak Tamil, Sinhala and English fluently. None of his siblings joined the tigers but some of his nephews and nieces did.
Balraj married a woman cadre Varathaa, one of Velupillai Prabhakaran's relative making him a relative of the LTTE leader. Velupillai Prabhakaran trusted him very much and proposed the wedding himself. Varathaa like Balraj had injured her leg in a battle. Balraj soon had problems with his wife and they soon separated. Balraj never had children. His wife was stung by a russel’s viper and died. Even though they separated Balraj was emotionally affected.
When Balraj was a student when he was recruited by Suntharam who was one of the top leaders in PLOTE until he was shot by LTTE in a press conference. PLOTE didn't believe in hit and run tactics which was one LTTE's main tactics against the Sri Lankan Army. Instead PLOTE formed sleeper cells everywhere so that they can carry out a massive onslaught. Therefore Balraj didn't fight against the army. Balraj was an impatient person, he was prepared to fight any time. When the 1983 riots began he thought of LTTE than PLOTE and opted for it. He went to a school teacher who was recruiting members for LTTE. Even though he had a PLOTE background he was accepted. In 1983 he was a part-time member and became a full-time member in 1984.
He was soon recognised for his talent by Mahattaya who was killed in 1993 for leaking information to RAW, an Indian intelligence agency who planned to kill LTTE supremo. Velupillai Prabhakaran suspected him because of his background in PLOTE and kept him as a helper than a fighter. When the fight began with the IPKF, most of the LTTE leadership went into the deep jungles. This is where Prabhakaran found out how valuable Balraj was.
Balraj is known for his conventional warfare and psychological warfare. He commanded the first conventional, Charles Antony Brigade. During the Second Battle of Elephant Pass, Balraj landed by sea into Jaffna peninsula rather than by land. LTTE unlike many separatist organisations were very advanced. They were similar to a real government but without recognition. Balraj would attack when the enemy least expected it. The Sri Lankan army didn't expect Balraj and his cadres would be coming by sea.
Velupillai Prabhakaran would always seek Balraj's help as he understood his plan more and could execute it successfully. During Balraj's last years he would be asked by Prabhakaran for assistance on the battlefield. Balraj would be there for many hours. This caused his physical health to even deteriorate. Most of the times he would in hospital in Puthukkudiyirupp for treatment but would come to the battlefield to supervise. Balraj knew during 2008 that the Sri Lankan Army were breaking through the defences and were going to capture Kilinochchi any time soon (which they did in 2 January 2009 after he died). He even said it was the final battle for Eelam, which was true because LTTE were defeated as a conventional army on May 19.
Theepan once recalled that in one heavy battle at Munthirikaikkulam, Balraj took part in an LTTE ambush in which fourteen SLA soldiers were killed and several weapons were seized.
Second Battle of Elephant Pass
Balraj was known for his attack on Elephant pass during Operation Unceasing Waves III. He led 1,200 cadres behind enemy lines and captured the V box. Sri Lankan Army kept assaulting the area to save the Elephant Pass. He cut off supplies going to the Sri Lankan Army and attacked from three directions. This attack was deemed impossible by an US officer who visited the site few months before, it was said that a lightly armed force cannot attack such a complex base. This attack was notable for high casualties in the SLA, no air support was used and because Balraj, instead of taking land route went by sea with the aid of Colonel Soosai. This operation was very successful because Brigadier Theepan and Karuna Amman attacked south of elephant pass stopping reinforcements coming in.
LTTE military academy
After Balraj's health started to deteriorate, he started to give lectures and instructions to LTTE cadres and officers. Balraj taught military strategy, planning and tactics. He also provided specialised training for the LTTE commandos and special forces.
Tamils in Sri Lanka
Balraj would often talk to the Tamil people in Sri Lanka wherever he is. He is one of the most liked people in Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam because of his simplicity. He would often solve the problems of the people with Velupillai Prabhakaran. This has caused him problems with other LTTE authorities as it was their responsibility of resolving the problems. Anyone could talk to Balraj as he was easily accessible. He unlike other LTTE commanders doesn't go with bodyguards in vehicles, instead he walks to places or cycles there.
Balraj would never interfere in politics and accepted Velupillai Prabhakaran as the leader of LTTE and Tamil Eelam. Being the number 2 after Velupillai Prabhakaran, Balraj didn't get involved like Karuna Amman who split in 2004 after a political dispute.
Balasegaram Kandiah had an heart operation in Singapore during the ceasefire period in 2003 as he was an heart patient. He has been hospitalised for two-weeks. He was injured many times in battle against the Sri Lankan Army.
Balraj died on May 20, 2008 at 2:00 p.m. due to a sudden heart attack. He was promoted posthumously as Brigadier because he was responsible for many LTTE victories on the battlefront against the Sri Lankan Army. A three-day period of mourning from May 21 – 23 was declared by the LTTE.
- Kumaaran, Satheesan (May 25, 2008). "Death of Balraj and its implications". The Sunday Times 42 (52). ISSN 1391-0531. Retrieved 2008-08-12.
- "Reserved hero: Brigadier Balraj TamilNet". Tamilnet. 2008-05-23. Retrieved 2009-01-21.
- "Sri Lanka: Brigadier Balraj passes away - LTTE". Siber News. 2008-05-20. Retrieved 2008-08-12.