Operation Pawan

Operation Pawan (Hindi: ऑपरेशन पवन Ŏparēśan Pavan, lit. "Operation Wind") was the code name assigned to the operation by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to take control of Jaffna from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), better known as the Tamil Tigers, in late 1987 to enforce the disarmament of the LTTE as a part of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord. In brutal fighting lasting about three weeks, the IPKF took control of the Jaffna Peninsula from the LTTE, something that the Sri Lankan Army had tried but failed to do. Supported by Indian Army tanks, helicopter gunships and heavy artillery, the IPKF routed the LTTE at the cost of 214 soldiers.[1]

Background

The Tamil Tigers had fought to establish a Tamil homeland, separate from Sri Lanka, in the northern and eastern portion of Ceylon (Tamil Eelam). This effort led to a series of armed conflicts with the Sri Lankan military. In the late 1980s India, feeling considerable pressure from its Tamil nationals, began to intervene on both a diplomatic and military basis. Negotiations led to the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, signed in Colombo on 29 July 1987, under which the Sri Lankan government agreed to give the nation's provinces more power and autonomy and withdraw its troops to their barracks. The Tamil rebels were to surrender their arms as well.[3]

Most Tamil groups, including the Tigers, had not participated in the talks. Only reluctantly did they agree to surrender their arms to the Indian Peace-Keeping Force as provided by the Accord. Even so, many rebels did not surrender their weapons, and the situation quickly flared into active confrontation. The Tigers declared their intent to continue armed struggle for an independent Tamil Eelam and refused to disarm. The IPKF soon found itself engaged in a bloody police action against the Tigers, which culminated in the rebels being cornered on the Jaffna Peninsula, at the northern end of the island. The IPKF set out to complete its mission of disarming the LTTE by taking Jaffna by force.[3]

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