by Sachi Sri Kantha, November 25, 2020
The 240 MaaVeerar (Great Heroes), to whom I pay tribute have been already recognized in the Sooriya Puthalvargal (November 2003) booklet, published as a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam memorial souvenir. Previously on June 23, 2004, I contributed a review of this souvenir. In it, I had listed the names of 240 MaaVeerars, but couldn’t scan the pages for the simple reason that I didn’t have a personal scanner then. (Those interested, can check the following link, though it’s stippled with question mark signs. https://sangam.org/articles/view2/?uid=438).
Since the publication was a print version, now I have scanned the pages of the 240 Black Tigers in this souvenir, for digital preservation. With this step, we can now recognize their faces as well.
A bit of Tamil etymology. The masculine and feminine words for hero and heroine in singular are Veeran and Veeranganai (or, Veeri). The masculine and feminine words for heroes and heroines in plural are, Veerar.and Veeriar. Veeriam is the Tamil word for vigor, virility. [source: V. Visvanatha Pillai, A Dictionary Tamil and English, Madras, revised, 6th ed., 1951]. Akin to the current usage of the word ‘hero’ for both genders, Veerar (in plural) have become applicable for both sexes.
In 2004, I provided a copy of this souvenir (gratis) to Prof. Robert Pape, University of Chicago. He did make use of it, for his terrorism database. In that database, for whatever its strengths and weaknesses, the heroics and lives of these Tamil Maaveerars were simply treated as a statistic for gathering research funds on terrorism and receiving invitations for ‘specialist’ interviews to the media. A related link of my criticism is (https://www.sangam.org/2010/07/Critique_Pape.php). In my view, these academics cannot understand or comprehend the thirst for freedom and dignity these Maaveerars carried in their hearts and souls. There is no doubt that these Maaveerars were thanatophilic (lovers of death), but so was Mahatma Gandhi, and scientists or peddlers of weaponry from the so-called superpowers.
From the biographical data and other details, provided in this booklet, I have prepared three tables. These are,
Table 1: Confrontations and Targets of Black Tigers: Chronological list 1987 to 2001.
Table 2: Age distribution of Black Tigers at the time of their suicides, 1987-2001.
Table 3: Military engagements and the death toll of Black Tigers, 1987-2001.
I provide the pdf file of these three tables here – Black Tiger data Tables 1-3 1987-2001.
Though many academics and journalists have published their versions on the activities of Black Tigers, I haven’t come across a study which provides the age distribution of Black Tigers. For the benefit of these folks, I provide such data in Table 2. The youngest among the 240 catalogued was 16 years, and the oldest was 31 years. The mode was 20 years.