The onslaught, coupled with the fall of PARANTHAN, KILINOCHCHI, PALLAI, SORANPATTU renewed its vigour to eliminate scourge of LTTE terrorism once again when heroic troops on 9th January 2009 afternoon triumphantly heralded the total capture of ELEPHANT PASS, rekindling hopes of achieving durable peace to the Mother Lanka.
The megalomaniac PRBHAKARAN, mad over fall of his terrorist fortresses one by one in the past few days has been reportedly radioing threatening and distress calls to his confidantes by himself as victories of our valiant soldiers are now poised to salvage hundreds of besieged Tamil civilians from the grips of terrorism.
The latest fall of strategically central ELEPHANT PASS isthmus which is of historic importance, following the single-minded determination of the Army Commander Lieutenant General SARATH FONSEKA and the Defence Secretary GOTABHAYA RAJAPAKSA, both of who escaped death by a whisker, disproves the myth that LTTE’s claim of having big reserves of hardcore fighters with them to fight the battles against their last bastions.
Accordingly, the entire road patch of the A-9KANDY– JAFFNA Main Supply Route (MSR) from VAVUNIYA onwards becomes fully open from now on, adding a new chapter to the contemporary history of Sri Lanka and renewing the ties between the north and the south of the country. The landmark achievement was made possible, thanks to the tireless dedication, commitment and invaluable sacrifices made by valiant troops of the 53 and 55 Divisions, ably backed by the newly-raised Mechanized Infantry Regiment and the aerial cover, provided by the Air Force.
ELEPHANT PASS, the popular bottleneck and the connecting gateway to the peninsula speaks of many military legends spanning over last 25 years of the infamous Eelam dream.
The Army after a series of pitched battles with the enemy withdrew from the ELEPHANT PASS on 22 April 2000. The ELEPHANT PASS Army camp was the only isolated camp on the MSR between VAVUNIYA and PALALY in the JAFFNA Peninsula in the year 1991.
LTTE began to spread its wings of dominance in the north and east before the Sri Lanka Army fortified their positions upon the pull-out of the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) in March 1990. Terrorists marked the departure launching even a chlorine gas attack on the KIRAN Army camp in BATTICALOA in June 1990.
However, valiant troops of the 6 SLSR (Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment) foiled the immediate capture of the ELEPHANT PASS camp on 10th July and held the fort continuously for three weeks until the troops on Operation “Balawegaya” reinforced the 6 SLSR troops and finally saved the camp.
That well-known heroic saga of the 6 SLSR Rifleman GAMINI KULARATNE on 14th July 1991 has now become a part of the history. An armour plated LTTE bulldozer tank entered the ELEPHANT PASS camp compound and was about to destroy the defences of the 6 SLSR. Giving a complete surprise to the enemy, War Hero GAMINI KULARATHNE, despite a hale of enemy gunfire, scaled the rolling enemy tank and flung a grenade into it at the expense of his own life. His heroic supreme sacrifice immobilized the monstrous LTTE vehicle and saved the camp and his fellow men. He was posthumously awarded the highest gallantry award PWV (Parama Weera Vibhushanaya).
Operation “Balawegaya”, the brainchild of Major General DENZIL KOBBEKADUWA, General Officer Commanding 2 Division, was tirelessly supported by able troops of the 1 Brigade commanded by Colonel G.S.C. FONSEKA and the 9 Brigade commanded by Colonel A.E.D. WIJENDRA.
Those multi-pronged attacks on the ELEPHANT PASS camp by the enemy using armoured bulldozers and extensive mortar fire were effectively repulsed by the then 6 SLSR Commander Major S.G. KARUNARATHNA, the Second In Command 6 SLSR late Major LALITH BUDDADASA and their brave soldiers. The camp was virtually under siege until the operation “Balawegaya” reinforced the troops.
The journey to the ELEPHANT PASS was lavishly and effectively undertaken by the troops, giving an unprecedented challenge to the enemy.
From the north of the ELEPHANT PASS, troops of the 1 Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment (VIR), commanded by Major SANATH DISSANAYAE and 5 Gemunu Watch (GW), commanded by Lieutenant Colonel NALINDA KUMARASINGHE who made the supreme sacrifice, a few hours ago while in action advanced further. Troops of the 1 Gajaba Regiment (GR) commanded by Lieutenant Colonel SANATH ALUVIHARE and 5 VIR commanded by Major KALPA SANJEEWA operating under the 533 Brigade commanded by Lieutenant Colonel JAYANATH JAYAWEERA were supported by the troops of 1 Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI) commanded by Major CHANDANA RANAWEERA and 1 GW commanded by Lieutenant Colonel AJANTHA WIJESURIYA operating under the 551 Brigade commanded by lieutenant Colonel WASANTHA ABREW, the troops of 4 GW commanded by Major UPUL SENERATH and 8 VIR commanded by Lieutenant Colonel NALIN KOSWATTA and the troops of 7 VIR commanded by Lieutenant Colonel DEEPAL PUSSELLA and 6 SLLI Major NALIN JAYAWARDENA operating under the 553 Brigade commended by Colonel MAHINDA WIJESURIYA under the command of Brigadier PRASANNA SILVA, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 55 Division. Ample support of the service and support Regiments such as Armour, Artillery, Signal and other fighting units of Special Force and Commando, gave their might for the capture of the ELEPHANT PASS. Their unmatched contribution helped achieve this success.
The Air Mobile Brigade, commanded by Colonel SHANTHA DISSANAYAKE under the 53 Division, commanded by Brigadier KAMAL GUNARATHNE and the troops of the 58 Division commanded by Brigadier SHAVINDRA SILVA advancing from PARANTHAN area also gave covering to those operations.