Driving one lap of the nation as we did on our recent Australian Cricket Tour of Sri Lanka, you see many things you wouldn't if you were taking the train (for e.g.) from Colombo to Jaffna. One of the most culturally signifcant places of the many that we stopped on our 10 day drive was north of Vavuniya, just before you reach Northern Province. At quiet Elephant Pass Railway Station you will find a monument to Lance Corporal Gamini Kularatne.
On July 10, 1991, 5000 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had surrounded the Elephant Pass Sri Lanka Army Garrison, the gateway or border to Jaffna Peninsula. There were only 600 soldiers at the base. Gamini and his colleagues were on watch for possible LTTE infiltrators, as they waged war on the battalion.
Through the darkness, a never-before-seen bulldozer modified to look like a tank, armed with machine guns and munitions, approached the camp. If the tank broke in, the camp would fall, and the Tamil Tigers would reach Sri Lanka’s south.
Gamini was having none of it.
Of his own accord, he ran from the camp towards the tank. Under heavy gunfire from the LTTE, Gamini climbed on to the tank and threw in 2 grenades, disabling the tank, killing all Tamil Tigers inside, and sadly himself. Gamini was only 25 when he thwarted the attack, ending the ‘Siege of Elephant Pass’ and saving the nation, though the war raged for 18 more years.
Gamini was the first to receive Parama Weera Vibhushanaya, the highest award given by the Sri Lanka Army. A statue of Gamini stands proudly at Elephant Pass, significantly facing the bulldozer he blew up. How's that for two fingers to the LTTE.