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Balasegaram Kandiah (aka Balraj) may look like a Maths tuition master from Harrow but he is arguably Tamil Eelam's greatest war hero and military commander. Around 15 years ago he delivered a Bruce Lee style Kung-Fu kick directly in the soft, more than likely tiny, sterile balls of the Sri Lankan army, during an epic battle known as ‘Oyatha Alaigal’ (Unceasing Waves)

The main aim of the battle was to capture a Sri Lankan military base in the Elephant Pass that controlled access to the Jaffna Peninsula. The base was strategically important for the Lankan army and was frequently used as a springboard for various military offensives on the Northern Tamil populace. 

The LTTE’s main strategy to capture the base was to block its main supply route by capturing and defending a heavily fortified stretch of land on the A9 highway known as the Vathiraayan box (v-box). This suicide mission fell to, you guessed it, our friend Balraj. Together with 1200 raw LTTE recruits, Prabhakaran ordered Balraj to single-handedly capture the V-box and then hold his position against the entire fucking Sri Lankan army. Essentially buying time for the other LTTE forces to attack and capture the Elephant Pass base. Failure would result in, not only the Elephant Pass base remaining under Lankan Army control, but also thousands of LTTE cadre deaths. So no pressure.

Balraj and his men didn’t have access to artillery, couldn’t call in air strikes, and the v-box was defended by a detachment of Sri Lankan army divisions that outnumbered his men by at least a factor of five. Knowing he had little chance of succeeding with a full frontal attack, Balraj executed a plan where he clandestinely sneaked up on the v-box garrison by sea and land and caught them with their pants down. The surprise factor worked and, despite all odds, Balraj and his 1200 men captured the v-box. The fun, of course, was just getting started, because now Balraj had to hold his ground against the impending Sri Lankan counterattack. 

As you can imagine the Sri Lankan army wasn’t pleased about losing a strategically important garrison to a handful of part-time soldiers. Their response was to send four generals and 17,000 soldiers supported by heavy artillery, tanks and air support to dislodge Balraj and his motely band of 1200 tigers. From heavy artillery to unrelenting profanity, the Lankans threw every goddamn thing they had at them. Balraj and his men held firm. Always in the heart of the battle, Balraj reportedly ran up and down their defensive positions, ignoring the Michael Bay movie style explosions smashing the highway around him, stuffing himself into the middle of everything remotely resembling a shoot out. He was shouting orders and inspiring his men to keep fighting, most of whom had never been in a battle before. 

The Lankan army then sent in the big guns, a battalion of battle-hardened, bandanna wearing, badass commandos. Trained by both US and Israel, these were the elite special forces of the Lankan army. Balraj didn't give a fuck. 

He ordered his men to dig in and get ready for the fight of their lives. The Lankan commando's began their attack by shelling Balraj's men with heavy artillery and once the tigers position had been sufficiently blown the fuck up, the commandos began their assault. Both forces engaged in brutal hand to hand combat, either stabbing with knives or whacking each other with the ends of their machine guns. I don't know exactly what happened next but I'm gonna assume Balraj gave some epic speech that pumped up his men so much that they went into horde mode because they somehow managed to fight off and push out the commando's. 

For 34 days, Balraj and his men held the V-box against everything the Lankan army could throw at them. In those 34 days of sleepless, constant battle, Balraj and his men destroyed hundreds of Lankan tanks, heavy artillery and caused thousands of Lankan Army casualties. They drove back repeated counter-attacks, held the V-box, and bought the rest of the LTTE forces enough time to capture the Elephant Pass base with minimal casualties. 

When LTTE reinforcement eventually arrived at the v-box they saw the Lankan army fleeing and were greeted by a pissed off Balraj, more than likely silently mouthing "WTF?!" at them whilst furiously pointing at his wristwatch. I totally would've. 34 days?! Jesus, that's late even by Tamil standards. 

Balraj was a brave and inspirational military commander, universally beloved by his people and respected by his enemies. I kind of see him as a reluctant badass – someone who didn’t want to fight but fate forced his hand. During his time with the LTTE he was never accused of committing any sort of war crimes and was respected and admired by friend and foe alike for his chivalry, skill and bravery. His death on the 20th May 2008 due a sudden heart attack was a massive blow for the LTTE and gave the Lankan army the courage and impetus to make their final attack in 2009.