Pottu Amman (Tamil militant)

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Pottu Amman
Pottu Amman (Tamil militant).jpg
Native name பொட்டு அம்மான்
Born S. Sivashankar
1962 (1962)
Died 18 May 2009(2009-05-18) (aged 46–47)
Years active 1981 –2009
Organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

Shanmugalingam Sivashankar (Tamil: சண்முகலிங்கம் சிவசங்கரன்; 1962 – 18 May 2009; commonly known by the nom de guerre Pottu Amman) was a Sri Lankan Tamil rebel and leading member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a separatist Tamil militant organisation in Sri Lanka.

Early life[edit]

Sivashankar[a] was born in 1962.[2][3] He was from Nayanmaarkattu near Ariyalai in northern Ceylon.[1][4] He was the son of Shanmugalingam (Shanmuganathan), a clerk working in the up-country region.[5] He was educated at Maheswari Vidyalayam, Canagaratnam Madhya Maha Vidyalayam (Stanley College) and Jaffna Hindu College.[5]

Sivashankar was a supporter of Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) MP V. Yogeswaran and once when they met Sivashankar slashed his forearm and daubed Yogeswaran's forehead with blood.[1] Sivashankar started bleeding excessively, fainted and was taken to hospital.[1] It is believed that he got the nickname "Pottu" (Tamil for tilak) from this incident.[1]

Sivashankar married a woman from the Batticaloa region and had a son and daughter.[5][6]

LTTE[edit]

Sivashankar joined the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1981 along with T. Sivanesan (Soosai).[2][7][b] He took on the nom de guerre "Pottu".[5] Seniority in the LTTE resulted in his nom de guerre "Pottu" being suffixed by "Amman" (uncle).[1] After being trained he served briefly as LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran's bodyguard.[5] He was then sent to Tamil Nadu, India to be in charge of the shore operations in the Vedaranyam area.[5] In 1985, whilst he was in charge of the LTTE's camp in Vedaranyam, he was abducted by rival militant group People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE).[7][8] Talks mediated by a former TULF MP failed to result in Pottu Amman's release and so the LTTE's Shankar abducted PLOTE member Jotheeswaran (alias Kannan) who was later exchanged for Pottu Amman.[5][8]

Pottu Amman returned to Sri Lanka in 1987.[5] He was sent to the Eastern Province where he was the LTTE's associate commander for Batticaloa District.[5] He clashed often with the ambitious Karuna Amman who wanted to eastern regional commander.[5] One of the factors leading to Karuna's defection to the Sri Lankan government in 2004 was his rivalry with Pottu Amman.[4][9] Pottu Amman was recalled to Jaffna and in October 1987, when war had erupted between the LTTE and the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), he was sent to Tamil Nadu to co-ordinate the flow of supplies from India to Sri Lanka.[5] He was briefly jailed in India for smuggling.[5] He returned to Jaffna to take part in military operations against the IPKF and was briefly Jaffna commander.[1][5] After being injured in the stomach he moved to the Vanni to recover.[5]

After recovering Pottu Amman was put in charge of the Tiger Organization Security Intelligence Service (TOSIS), the LTTE's intelligence wing, in mid 1988.[5][10] Floowing the IPKF withdrawal in March 1990 and under Pottu Amman's leadership, TOSIS expanded greatly and became a formidable organisation, copying the tactics of Inter-Services Intelligence, Mossad and Shin Bet.[5][11] As chief of TOSIS, Pottu Amman is believed to have masterminded the assassinations of Rajiv Gandhi, Ranasinghe Premadasa, Ranjan Wijeratne, Clancy Fernando and many others.[1] He also played a key role in the unmasking of the "conspiracy" against LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran by deputy leader Mahattaya.[1] Pottu Amman is believed to have tortured Mahattaya and extracted his "confession".[5] In 1993 two separate divisions were created in TOSIS - National Intelligence Division and Military Intelligence Service.[5] Pottu Amman was in charge of the National Intelligence Division as well as being in overall charge of TOSIS.[5][11] He was later in charge of the LTTE's Chiruththaigal (leopard) commando division.[1][6] In 1997 he was appointed military commander of Jaffna peninsula.[1]

In March 2008 Prabhakaran, Pottu Amman and four other LTTE members were charged with the assassination of Foreign Ministe Lakshman Kadirgamar in August 2005.[12]

Death[edit]

What happened to Pottu Amman, like many senior LTTE members, in the final staged of the civil war in 2009 remains shrouded in mystery and prone to wild speculations and rumours. Officially Pottu Amman was killed in the early hours of 18 May 2009 as he, Colonel Letchumanan and other LTTE cadres tried to cross the Nanthi Kadal in a boat and were fired upon by Sri Lankan soldiers.[5][13][14]

According to the Sri Lankan military the wife of Soosai, head o the Sea Tigers, had told them during interrogation that Pottu Amman, together with Soosai, Prabhakaran and Prabhakaran's son Charles Anthony, had remained in the war zone in the final days of the war.[15] The military claimed to have killed 18 senior LTTE members, including Pottu Amman, during the final battle of the civil war on 18 May 2009.[15] They also claimed to have intercepted LTTE communication confirming Pottu Amman's death.[5] The military initially claimed to have identified the body of Pottu Amman but later admitted that they weren't certain that they had found his body.[15]

In September 2009 Deputy Solicitor-General Kapila Waidyaratne informed the Colombo High Court that Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman had been killed in May 2009 in Karaithuraipatru and that their names should be removed from those charged with Kadirgamar's assassination.[5] Judge Kumudini Wickremasinghe approved the changes, judicially confirming Pottu Amman's death.[5] In March 2010 the Sri Lankan government asked Interpol to remove Pottu Amman from its most wanted list.[16] In October 2010 the charges against Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman in relation to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi were dropped after the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a report stating that the pair were dead.[17]

The failure of the Sri Lankan military to produce Pottu Amman's body has fueled the belief that he survived the civil war.[18] Some have theorised that Pottu Amman escaped whilst others claim that he was captured by the Sri Lankan military and was being held captive in a secret location.[5] In September 2014 reports appeared claiming that Pottu Amman had been arrested in Hong Kong and brought back to Sri Lanka.[13][19] The Sri Lankan military dismissed the reports, saying that, although they hadn't found his body, they knew that Pottu Amman had been killed in the final stages of the civil war.[19] In March 2016 the Sinhalese nationalist newspaper Divaina reported that Pottu Amman was living with his family in Tamil Nadu, India using the name "Kuruttu".[3]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Another source gives his name as Sivasankaran.[1]
  2. ^ Another source says he joined the LTTE in 1982.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (13 December 1997). "Pottu Amman in Jaffna". Frontline (magazine). 14 (25). 
  2. ^ a b Jalaldeen, Rafik (9 April 2009). "Pottu Amman in command?". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 
  3. ^ a b "Oops …. LTTE Spy Master Still Alive – Colombo Newspaper". Sri Lanka Guardian. 16 March 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (14 March 2004). "Pottu vs. Karuna: clash of the "Ammans"". The Sunday Leader. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (11 September 2009). ""Pottu Amman" and the Intelligence Division of the LTTE". dbsjeyaraj.com. 
  6. ^ a b "Short Profile of LTTE intelligence head, Pottu". Sri Lanka Guardian. August 2007. 
  7. ^ a b Weerakoon, Ruwan (4 October 2009). "Pottu Amman: Patient but ruthless Tiger". The Nation (Sri Lanka). 
  8. ^ a b Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (13 October 2001). "Death of a Tiger". Frontline (magazine). 18 (21). 
  9. ^ Richards, Joanne. "An Institutional History of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)" (PDF). Staatssekretariat für Migration/Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies/The Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding. p. 58. 
  10. ^ Richards, Joanne. "An Institutional History of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)" (PDF). Staatssekretariat für Migration/Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies/The Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding. p. 20. 
  11. ^ a b Richards, Joanne. "An Institutional History of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)" (PDF). Staatssekretariat für Migration/Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies/The Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding. p. 21. 
  12. ^ "Kadir killing: 6 top LTTEers charged". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 16 March 2008. 
  13. ^ a b Sengupta, Pallavi (11 September 2014). "'Dead' LTTE Intelligence chief Pottu Amman arrested in Hong Kong". Oneindia. 
  14. ^ Richards, Joanne. "An Institutional History of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)" (PDF). Staatssekretariat für Migration/Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies/The Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding. p. 67. 
  15. ^ a b c Reddy, B. Muralodhar (6 June 2009). "Final Hours". Frontline (magazine). 26 (12). 
  16. ^ "Sri Lanka asks Interpol to treat Pottu Amman as dead". Zee News. Press Trust of India. 18 March 2010. 
  17. ^ "LTTE chief's case closed". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). Times of India. 26 October 2010. 
  18. ^ Ramachandran, Sudha (2 June 2009). "Missing Tiger spy chief spells trouble". Asia Times. 
  19. ^ a b Srinivasan, Meera (12 September 2014). "Pottu Amman dead". The Hindu.