Rehabilitated LTTE cadres:
Three marksmen promote sports to NE
From left: Suresh Kumar, Thayaparan
Thavendran and K. Rajeevan
The youngest and the most cheerful of
the three was 24-year-old Suresh Kumar. The determined
one was Thavendran (26), and the studious, Rajeevan
(34). Different in character, yet the decision they took
years ago gave them almost a similar result in life. The
life they spent as LTTE cadres is now over. These three
young men are turning a new leaf in life - a much
greener and luscious one indeed.
Rajeevan, Thavendran and Suresh today
are budding sportsmen training to excel in marksmanship.
Under the Sri Lanka Shooting Association the trio train
in the game of shooting, aiming to be national
champions. "At the very initial stage when we tested
them for their level of talent the three showed skills
above the average, for beginners. With a systematic
training they have no barriers to excel in sport," said
Lt. Col. Dushan Wijewickrama (Rtd.), Secretary of the
National Shooting Sports Federation of Sri Lanka and the
national trainer. "These young men came to our training
through a special initiative in the rehabilitation
program as a result of a special discussion held between
the Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage and
Rehabilitation Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera, said Lt.
Col. Wijewickrama explaining how it all started.
They need to go through a systematic
training and we hope to train them in different
categories of the sport selected according to their
performances", said Lt. Col. Wijewickrama. According to
the trainers, Rajeevan, Thavendran and Suresh have
promising shooting skills the same skill that was once
given them by a ruthless terrorist organisation to kill
another human being is opening a door for them today to
give them a chance to bring glory to Sri Lanka. Over
years of experience of seeing budding marksmen and women
becoming excellent in their talents, the predictions of
the trainers can be disregarded.
The three marksmen are now training in
the air rifle category. Initially, five ex-LTTE cadres
were selected from the Rehabilitation centres including
a girl, but two went home, having been released from
The Sports Ministry and the Sri Lanka
Shooting Association is taking every possible step to
give the three promising sportsmen a chance to win.
Today, the three marksmen are staying at the sports
hostel at Independence Square enjoying similar
facilities given to other sportsmen and women training
there. With transportation provided by the Sri Lanka
Shooting Association, every morning they go to Welisara
for training sessions. The Sports Ministry has agreed to
provide the three sportsmen a monthly grant of Rs.
15,000. Food and accommodation are free, and two
rehabilitation officers accompany them, as the trio
still need assistance in their day-to-day work as they
are not yet fluent in Sinhala.
Three months back 135 rehabilitees,
good in sports were selected from the four rehab centres
in Welikanda and Vavuniya and brought to Colombo to face
a talent identification conducted by Sri Lanka's
national coaches. In this event five were selected for
shooting, two for cricket, eight for swimming and three
for karate. The authorities decided to select trainees
as marksmen as a first step. "The two who were released
were more interested in reintegrating into society and
helping their families. So we accepted their decision to
give prominence to the family and thus they could not
continue with the training, said Commissioner General of
Rehabilitation Brigadier Dharashana Hettiarachchi.
Why did the authorities suddenly
decide to seek talent in sports among the rehabilitees?
Answering the question Brigd. Hettiarachchi said, "The
Rehabilitation process is focused on educational,
spiritual and recreational aspects. And all the
rehabilitees are in their prime youth. Under the
guidance of the Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage
and Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Minister
Chandrasiri Gajadeera we selected sports enthusiasts
from among the rehabilitees." The Rehabilitation
authorities left the talent identification to the sports
experts to decide whether there are talented youth with
the capacity to reach national standards.
"After May 2009 around 11,000 ex-LTTE
combatants surrendered to the Sri Lankan Government. The
Government then decided to train the youth, discover
their skills and re-integrate them as contributors to
national development," explained Brgd. Hettiarachchi. "A
majority of the rehabilitees in their youth are the
backbone of the country. "Today at rehabilitation
centres we have only around 800 ex-LTTE cardres and the
rest have gone back to their families, released at
different periods. The 800 are in the process of
completing their livelihood training courses and will be
released in batches," he explained.
The rehabilitation system established
by the Government for the ex-LTTE combatants ensures
that these young men and women will have safer place in
society and with time their past forgotten.
The youth as any other young man or
woman, desire to lead a successful life and use the full
potential of their talents. As in the case of Rajeevan,
Thanvendran and Suresh, bringing the talented into
limelight and giving them support to succeed, has no
barriers for championship.
Rajeevan hails from Thrinalveli,
Jaffna. Today he is married and his wife is living in
Kilinochchi. "She works in an insurance company in
Kilinochchi," he said. He was married when he joined the
LTTE. His dream is to go back home and begin a beautiful
family life. Soon after finishing his Ordinary Levels
Rajeevan took to lathe work for a livelihood. "I liked
it and was able to pick up the skills easily," he said.
In 1996 he comes to the Vanni district looking for a job
and joined the LTTE as a technician. "My job was
basically lathe work, but we were given a three month
weapons training in 1996. After a few years I was more
involved in the supplies of the organisation," he
Rajeevan stayed until the last phase
of the conflict. Lastly he surrendered to the Sri Lanka
Army at Wattuwal in Mullaitivu on May 17, 2009. "I
cannot predict how successful I will be in this sport
but I am ready to dedicate my fullest efforts to achieve
the best possible level to the best of my abilities," he
said. "We have our family commitments too. It is our
responsibility," he added. To the youth, committing to
practices while in Colombo is easy. "But when we get
back home and start a job, we will face difficulties in
continuing our practices. We need to find a new plan for
that," he added.
Thavendran 26, has studied up to the
Advanced Level in the Commerce stream at the Kilinochchi
Hindu College. In 2009, Thavendran's family, living in
Kilinochchi moved East to another village."At Vishwamadu
the LTTE came to our temporary camps and forced the
youth to join their force. We had no other option so I
joined," he explained.
Today he is a skilled plumber and the
shooting game seems exciting to him. Suresh Kumar hails
from Mulliaweli in Mullaitivu and had studied at the
Kalaimagal School. "My family is resettled now in
Mulliyaweli and after I am released I will go there," he
said. Suresh is a good mason. In 2009, while their
family was displaced the LTTE forcefully took Suresh
The Sri Lanka Shooting Association is
planning to expand their wings to the North and East
too. "We are planning to visit schools and community
based organisations to seek out good sportsmen from that
community," Lt. Col. Wijewickrama explained. "More than
the weapons and the ammunitions what is essential is a
firing range. It only requires 10 metres.
And today there are mobile ranges
available. Our Association is seeking the possibility of
purchasing such a range so that we could expand the
sport beyond Colombo," he added.
To the Association having the three
young men is a strength to expand the sport to the North
and East as well and the three budding marksmen are
eagerly watching for that day to dawn.
Courtesy : Sunday Observer