http://www.bbcsinhala.com

29 April, 2005 - Published 18:08 GMT

Chandana Keerthi Bandara
Senior producer, BBC Sinhala

Siva is no more!

"Siva has been abducted!"

I was visiting friends with my family when the call came through. It was around 10pm in London. We had to cut short the visit and rush home.

My 11 year old son was not happy to go home as he had to leave his playmates.

"What is going on?"

I gave him the unpalatable information. He was thoughtful on the way home.

Before getting into bed he looked at the small pile of clothes kept in a side of the room.

"I hope Siva Mama will come back soon."

The clothes were of Siva's.

Before leaving London a couple of months ago Siva left these at our place.

"It is easy than carrying it around. I can wear them if I return to London in future."

He talked about increasing death threats since the LTTE Eastern commander Karuna broke away from Tamil Tigers in March last year.

Sivaram or Taraki as he was known to some readers did not support the Karuna faction espousing an "Eastern Eelam" although Siva was a man from Batticaloa.

He saw the separation of the North and the East as the downfall of the whole Tamil Liberation struggle.

The concept of a Tamil Homeland, the rallying call of Tamil militancy is based on a united North and East.

Sinhala Nationalists have called for the de-merger of the North and East that was temporarily merged in 1987.

Taraki was not prepared to go for the separation of Tamil Homeland. He was going ahead for a separate Tamil identity in a united North and East.

The man who braved battle fields, the man who wrote from government held territory highlighting the Tamil Liberation Struggle in inimitable English and Tamil without losing life or limb at the height of the civil war, felt that his life was now in danger.

Earlier, in 2000 a clandestine organisation issued a threatning statement calling four journalists including Sivaram "traiters" and "spies". Three of them fled the country and found refuge in developed countries. Sivaram opted to stay back.

When the journalist A Nadesan was killed in Batticaloa last May, two other journalists from the East fled the country after receiving death threats. Sivaram helped them reach Europe and chose to stay back.

Under the present regime his house was raided twice by government security forces in search of "weapons".

Yet, Sivaram preferred staying back.

But, the man who could quote from the Tamil epic Manimehalai as well as Art of War by Sun Tzu with equal ease and who was counted as an authority on military analysis felt threatened a couple of months ago. But, he wanted to carry on with the work at home.

We urged him to stay in London and carry on with publishing his website.

"How can I write the story properly if I am not in touch with the ground situation?"

That is what made him a glowing beacon among military analysts. He knew the land; He knew the terrain; He knew why battles are won or lost.

Therefore, when Siva said that he was threatened, it was serious.

But, he was never concerned about his safety even while in hostile territory. It could well be a reason how he managed to command such a presence in a relatively short life span of 46 years.

"They found the body!"

My restless sleep was broken early in the morning.

I called Siva's home. His daughter Vaishnavy answered the phone. She knew already and was taking it all with great courage that I have only seen in the likes of Dharmeratnam Sivaram.

Justifying the slaying of Vijaya Kumaratunge, father of Vimukthi and Yasodara in Colombo, the Deshapremi Janatha Viyaparaya (Patriotic Peoples Movement) called him a traitor.

After gunning down Sivaram, father of Vaishnavy, Vaitheky and Seralathan in Colombo, the same evil forces denounce him as a 'terrorist'.

The Sinhala Vijaya and the Tamil Siva were both good friends who laid down their lives as unrelenting campaigners on the path to a harmonious land that dignifies the right of Tamils.

My son was walking with me to school.

"They won't kill Siva Mama, will they?"

I had no courage to divulge the truth.

But, I have to tell him. He should know what Vaishnavy knows.