Captain Miller

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Captain Miller.jpg
V. Vasanthan

(1966-01-01)1 January 1966
Died5 July 1987(1987-07-05) (aged 21)
Nelliady, Sri Lanka
NationalitySri Lankan
Years active1983 –1987
OrganizationLiberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
Known forSuicide Bomber

Vallipuram Vasanthan (Tamil: வல்லிப்புரம் வசந்தன்; 1 January 1966 – 5 July 1987; commonly known by the nom de guerre Captain Miller) was a Sri Lankan Tamil rebel and member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a separatist Tamil militant organisation in Sri Lanka. He was the LTTE's first Black Tiger (suicide bomber).[1][2][3][4]

Early life[edit]

Vasanthan was born on 1 January 1966.[5][6] He was from Thunnalai in northern Ceylon.[6] He was the son of a bank manager and had two siblings.[7] He was educated at Hartley College in Point Pedro.[5][7][8][9]


Captain Miller shrine at Nelliady Madhya Maha Vidyalayam on Black Tigers Day, 2004.

Deeply affected by the suffering of the victims of Black July anti-Tamil riots, Vasanthan joined the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 1983 as driver.[7][10] He became a full time member of the LTTE a year later.[10] He was given the nom de guerre Miller (Millar).[11][12]

During the Vadamarachchi Operation (Operation Liberation) the Sri Lanka Army took over Nelliady Madhya Maha Vidyalayam and turned it into a military base.[13][14][15] The LTTE resolved to capture the base which was heavily reinforced and surrounded by barbed wire.[14] Miller volunteered to drive a bomb filled vehicle into the heart of the base.[14][16] Miller visited his family on 29 June 1987 and treated them and his friends to ice cream.[10] On 5 July 1987 the LTTE filled a truck with explosives and wedged Miller's body into the driver's seat so that he couldn't move even if he wanted to.[14] His hands were tied to the steering wheel and one foot to the accelerator.[14] Fellow LTTE cadres started the truck which started moving.[14] Miller steered the explosive filled truck into the army camp at Nelliady Madhya Maha Vidyalayam. Miller was most likely killed at the first barricades when soldiers opened fire but the truck kept going, ramming into the main school building and exploding.[14] The explosion created a crater as big as a bus.[15] Other LTTE cadres who were following Miller's truck launched an attack on the camp and captured it.[14] Scores of soldiers were killed and wounded.[a]

The incident was videotaped and Miller was posthumously promoted to captain.[14] He became a revered figure in the LTTE and his face was on the insignia of the Black Tigers, the LTTE's suicide wing.[14] 5 July became Karumpuli Naal (Black Tigers Day), a day for Tamils across the world to commemorate all Black Tiger "martyrs".[5][14][17][20] A shrine, including a golden statue of Miller, was built at Nelliady Madhya Maha Vidyalayam.[13][21] After the Sri Lankan military re-captured the Vadamarachchi region in 1996 they destroyed Miller's shrine but locals managed to save and hide his statue.[22][23] The statue and new memorial plaque were re-installed in 2002 during the Norwegian mediated Cease Fire Agreement.[22][23] After war resumed, Miller's statue was attacked and destroyed by armed men on 23 August 2006.[23] The remnants of the shrine - the dais on which Miller's statue stood and stone memorial plaque - were destroyed by the army on 4 July 2010.[22]


  1. ^ Estimates of the number of soldiers killed at Nelliady Madhya Maha Vidyalayam vary - 17,[13] 18,[15] 20,[14] 30,[17] 40,[14][16][18] 55.[19]


  1. ^ Birtley, Tony (23 July 2007). "Sri Lanka's Black Tigers". Al Jazeera.
  2. ^ "Tamil Tigers mark suicide attacks". BBC News. 5 July 2007.
  3. ^ Karunakharan, P. (6 July 2004). "LTTE's senior leader killed". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  4. ^ Athas, Iqbal (13 October 1996). "Censorship out: then events unfurled". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka).
  5. ^ a b c "Karumpuli Naal marked worldwide". Tamil Guardian. 5 July 2015.
  6. ^ a b Sri Kantha, Sachi. "Homage to the Black Tigers: A Review of the Sooriya Puthalvargal 2003 Memorial Souvenir". Ilankai Tamil Sangam.
  7. ^ a b c Pleven, Liam (19 July 2005). "Secrets of their success (part 2)". Newsday. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007.
  8. ^ "Hartley College Milestones". Hartley College. Archived from the original on 20 December 2008.
  9. ^ "Vasanthan Vallipuram". Hartley College. Archived from the original on 16 June 2016.
  10. ^ a b c "Statue of Miller at Nelliady School". Sunday Leader. 10 July 2005.
  11. ^ Weiss, Gordon (2011). The Cage (Weiss book). The Bodley Head. p. 65.
  12. ^ Barbagli, Marzio (2015). Farewell to the World: A History of Suicide. Polity Press. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-7456-6244-2.
  13. ^ a b c Pleven, Liam (19 July 2005). "Secrets of their success (part 1)". Newsday. Archived from the original on 14 August 2005.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Lewis, Jeffrey William (2012). The Business of Martyrdom: A History of Suicide Bombing. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-61251-097-2.
  15. ^ a b c Athas, Iqbal (11 July 1999). "Lots of promises, but precious little". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka).
  16. ^ a b Gunaratna, Rohan (5 February 2000). "The LTTE and suicide terrorism". Frontline. 17 (3).
  17. ^ a b Athas, Iqbal (12 July 2004). "The End Of Peace?". Outlook.
  18. ^ "Dying with enemy after dining with chief". The Nation (Sri Lanka). 9 July 2006.
  19. ^ Perera, Amantha (12 July 2006). "Black Tigers bare their fangs". Asia Times.
  20. ^ "LTTE leader pays homage to Black Tigers". TamilNet. 5 July 2006.
  21. ^ Perera, Amantha (17 July 2003). "Suicide bombers feared and revered". Asia Times.
  22. ^ a b c "SLA destroys remnants of Black Tiger Miller monument in Vadamaraadchi". TamilNet. 5 July 2010.
  23. ^ a b c "Armed men attack Black Tiger Miller statue in Vadamaradchi". TamilNet. 24 August 2006.