Ponnuthurai Sivakumaran

Ponnuthurai Sivakumaran (1950 – 1974), also known as Sivakumaran or Urumpirai Sivakumaran, was from Urumpirai, Jaffna,
Tamil eelam. He was one of the pioneers of the Tamil Eelam struggle.


He held Alfred Duraiappah, the then Jaffna Mayor, responsible for the 1974 Tamil conference deaths. He was looking for an opportunity to assassinate Duraiappah. Sivakumaran was the third son of Ponnuthurai- Annaledchumi couple who were the residents of Urumpirai. His mother had great passion for the Tamil language and Tamil community. Accepting
the leadership of “Thanthai Selva” she became an active member of Thamil Arasu Kadchi (Federal Party) and Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) and made great contributions during the various forms of freedom fight for the rights of Tamil community. Mrs.Annaledchumy, mother of five was responsible for instilling the feeling of national and self respect in her third son, the great hero Pon.Sivakumaran, who was the first to lose his life for Tamil freedom fight. When Sivakumaran was involved in Tamil Eelam freedom struggle she was the active force behind him. She provided great help to him during his activities involving use of arms and has the honour of molding him to lead the path for freedom fight.
The death of nine spectators during the closing ceremony of the Fourth International Tamil Research Conference ended all the efforts Sirimavo Bandaranaike government had been making in 1973 to pacify the Tamil United Front. The deaths hurt the hearts and wounded the feelings of the Tamil people in general and youths in particular. Militant youths decided to take revenge and they selected Jaffna Mayor and SLFP Jaffna Organizer Alfred Duraiappah as the target. Duraiappah was close to Posts and Telecommunications Minister chelliah Kumarasuriyar who had played a role in hindering the holding of the conference in
Jaffna. Duraiappah aided him and was responsible for the non-availability of the Duraiappah Stadium for the closing ceremony of the conference.

Two militant group leaders, independent of each other, decided to assassinate Duraiappah. One of them was.Sivakumaran, son of Ponnuthurai and Annaledchumi of Urumpirai, a village famed for Tamil militancy. The other was Pirapaharan, then 19.
Sivakumaran considered the police firing at the conference a personal affront. He was a leading.member of the Volunteer Force, raised to assist the conduct of the conference of reputed Tamil
scholars worldwide. For Pirapaharan, who was in Tamil Nadu when the conference took place, the ugly disruption of the conference and its ill- fated ending was an outrage of the Tamil culture, Tamil pride.
Sivakumaran, born into the family of a passionate Federal Party supporters, had his early schooling at Urumpirai Hindu College and his GCE Advanced Level studies at Jaffna Hindu College. He joined Kokkuvil Junior Technical
College for his professional education, but dropped out in two months due to his militant activities. He joined the Tamil Students Union (TSU) in 1971, a year after its formation, but had taken to political violence the previous year when he placed a time bomb in Deputy Minister
Somaweera Chandrasiri`s car. Then in 1971 he threw a hand bomb at Duraiappah`s car.

Sivakumaran teamed up with the Thangathurai- Kuttimani group for some time, but broke away and set up his own group, known as the Sivakumaran group. He was arrested in February 1972 for throwing the hand bomb at Duraiappah`s car parked along First Cross Street. Duraiappah had walked up to the Jaffna Rest House and was having tea with Jaffna Magistrate Colin Mendis when Sivakumaran
threw the bomb. The car was extensively damaged.

Sivakumaran was charged before the Jaffna magistrate, but C. Suntharalingam, his lawyer objected to the case being heard by the Jaffna magistrate, who was a close friend of Duraiappah. The case was transferred to the Mallakam magistrate who turned down the bail application saying that he had no authority to
grant bail in such cases. Sivakumaran was released after some months due to lack of evidence. He was tortured during
the investigation. It was unbearable, he later told his colleagues. He told them that he had decided not to get caught by the police again.
I would rather die than get caught. It is better to die than betray your colleagues or movement to the police. Mavai Senathirajah, who was also arrested in
1973, confirmed the severity of the torture. Torture was very severe, unbearable. One night I was taken to an open ground and was beaten till I fainted. The torture team thought I was dead
and left me there and went away. I was picked.up by an army patrol. Sivakumaran found a way to escape police torture. He decided that it was better to commit
suicide. He decided to carry with him a capsule of instant-killing poison cyanide. Sivakumaran thus originated the cyanide suicide culture.

Sivakumaran played a leading role in the Tamil Research Conference Volunteer Corps. He helped decorate Jaffna city and turn it into a cultural park in just three days. His contemporaries say he was sullen after Tamil Research Conference
killings. He was itching for revenge. He told his friends that he would take revenge on two persons- Duraiappah and police officer

His friends recall him vowing “These rascals who caused the death of nine innocent people should not go unpunished”.
However on June 5, 1974 he was surrounded by the Sri Lankan Police. Fearing torture he swallowed cyanide and killed himself. Hence was born the cyanide culture in the Tamil militancy. It is claimed Sivakumaran is the first Tamil militant to die for the cause. Tamil Youth Organisation remembers Sivakumaran, the pioneer of Tamil armed movement, marking the day of his demise on 05 June, 1974, as Tamil Students’ Day of Uprising, in several countries worldwide.


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