Thousands of fighting cadres of the LTTE fasted on Monday in memory of the "martyrdom" of Lt Col Thileepan, who fasted unto death in September 1987, on a five-point charter of demands addressed to India, which had sent a Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to implement the India-Sri Lanka Accord in July that year.
The mass fasting took place even as the LTTE set off a claymore mine in Poovarasankulam near Vavuniya in North Western Sri Lanka killing a Sri Lankan Airman, and the Sri Lankan Air Force sent a Kfir supersonic bomber to pound a LTTE-held village in Mannar in a retaliatory strike.
Young Thileepan, who was popular among the students of Jaffna and was responsible for bringing women into the LTTE, died on September 26 in Nallur in Jaffna, after a 12-day fast over demands, which the LTTE had placed before the then Indian High Commissioner JN Dixit.
The five demands were: Release all political prisoners held under Sri Lanka's anti-terrorism law; halt all new settlement of ethnic Sinhalas in the Tamil Homeland (the North Eastern districts); stop the opening of new Sri Lankan police stations in the North East; disarm Tamil groups armed by the Sri Lankan government; and remove the Sri Lankan army from schools in the North East.
"All are reasonable demands put to a Peace Keeping Force. Thileepan died, his demands unheeded," said a release from the LTTE's Peace Secretariat on Monday.
"Majority of the LTTE poralees (fighters) fast on this day of September 26 each year to remember Lt Col Thileepan," the release said.
Significantly, the LTTE Supremo, Velupillai Prabhakaran, reportedly prefers to observe his birthday, which falls in November, by fasting rather than rejoicing.