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Timeline of the violence in Sri Lanka

Major developments in Sri Lanka's conflict:

world Updated: May 18, 2009 14:13 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

1956 – Act passed in Lankan Parliament making Sinhala the only official language. Federal Party, an ethnic Tamil party, begins non-violent protests, on the lines of `satyagraha’.

1959 – Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike assassinated by a Buddhist monk.

1960 – Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike attempts to implement Sinhala-only act in the Tamil majority areas of north and east.

1961 –Federal party holds demonstrations. North and east paralysed for two months. Finally, act is not implemented in the two regions.

1960 -70 – Unease among Tamil about being discriminated gradually swells. Several anti-Tamil riots take place across the country.

1970 –Bandaranaike introduces rules for standardising university entrance exams. The rules are more stringent for Tamil and less for Sinhalese students. The Tamil Student Movement begins the first to be militant in nature.

1970-73 – Minor Tamil groups emerge and carry out largely unsuccessful assassination attempts.

1974 – Tamil New Tiger, a militant outfit, is formed. A young man from Jaffna, V Prabhakaran joins the group.

1975 – Sivakumar, a Tamil militant, bites the cyanide tablet, the first such case of suicide, when caught by the police while robbing a bank. Tamil New Tiger renamed as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The mayor of Jaffna assassinated. Prabhakaran later claims responsibility.

1976-77 – Tamil youth start going to Lebanon for military training.

1978 – LTTE carries out assassinations. For the first time, claims responsibility. It becomes a known organisation in Sri Lanka.

1982 – Prabhakaran arrested in Tamil Nadu for being involved in a shootout.

1983-84 – Prabhakaran released. Returns to Sri Lanka. 13 Sri Lanka army soldiers killed in an ambush. It is followed by wide-spread anti-Tamil riots. Subsequently, thousands of Tamil youth join LTTE. Hundreds are trained in India, especially in camps in Tamil Nadu. Civil war begins in Sri Lanka.

1985 – Failed peace talks in Thimpu.

1987 – Indo-Lanka accord, which talked about regional devolution of powers, signed. LTTE distances itself from the accord. Continues to claim separate homeland.

1987-89 – A bloody Marxist insurrection breaks out in southern Sri Lanka. A wave of violence – with no links to the Tamil-Sinhalese ethnic strife – sweeps over the island nation in which thousands are killed, abducted or go missing. Fighting on two violent fronts, the JR Jayawardene government calls for Indian help.

1987- The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) arrives in Sri Lanka as part of the accord.

1987 – Thileepan, a prominent LTTE member in Jaffna, fasts until death protesting against discrimination against Tamils. It marks the beginning of an anti-India wave in the northern district.

1987 -1990 – The Indian forces battle it out with the LTTE, which adopts guerilla tactics and inflicts casualties on the forces.

1990 – IPKF returns to India with more than 1200 casualties and thousands injured.


1991 – Rajiv Gandhi assassinated by the LTTE

1993 – President Ranasinghe Premadasa assassinated.

1993 – Lalith Athulathmudali, former cabinet minister assassinated by a gunman.

1994 – Gamini Dissanayake, Opposition UNP Presidential candidate killed by a suicide bomber in campaign rally in Colombo.

1995 – Army wrests Jaffna from the LTTE. The rebels fail to get it back after waves of attacks.

1996 – The LTTE explodes a truck full of explosives at the Central Bank, targeting the country’s economy.

1997 – A similar suicide attack with a truck laden with explosives at the prestigious World Trade Centre twin towers in Colombo.

1999 -- Senior Tamil politician Neelan Tiruchelvam who propagated peaceful resolution to the ethnic problem assassinated.

1999 – President Chandrika Kumaratunge survives assassination attempt.

2002 – Ceasefire agreement signed between the LTTE and the government.

2004 – Tsunami devastates the country. LTTE strongholds are battered. It alleges that the government did not adequately share the aid for the north and the east.

2005 – A series of ceasefire allegations levelled against each other by the government and the rebels.

2005 – Foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar killed by a sniper.

2007 -- SP Thamilselvan, LTTE’s second-in-command killed in air raid. Government pushes out the rebels from the east for the first time in decades.

2007 – LTTE stuns the world by launching an air attack on the international airport in Colombo. At least seven more air attacks across the country to follow in the next two years.

2008 – Fragile ceasefire breaks down. Heavy fighting breaks out in the north. Throughout the year, government troops steadily acquire more and more LTTE territory.

2009 – On January 2nd, military takes over the LTTE capital Kilinochchi.

2009 – January 27, military captures LTTE’s military stronghold, Mullaitivu

2009 – Throughout February, March and April, the army surrounds, suffocates and finally corners the LTTE in a small patch of coastal land in Mulliativu district.

LTTE broken as a conventional fighting unit.