The war between LTTE and IPKF broke out on October 10, 1987. On October 11, Pirabaharan wrote a letter to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M.G.Ramachandran explaining the circumstances that led to the break-out hostilities. He wrote,
“As a consequence of the unjust and tragic death of our commanders and fighters, violence erupted everywhere in Tamil Eelam. Racial riots broke here and there. India had leveled false accusations against us stating that we were responsible for the violence and we tried to break the agreement. As a result, a conspiracy was hatched in Colombo between Indian Defense Minister Pant, Indian High Commissioner Dixit, and Indian Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Sunderji n one side and President Jayawardene and National Security Minister Lalith Athulathmudali on the other side. J.R. Jayawardene had announced the banning of LTTE and the nullification of the general amnesty given to LTTE cadres. Indian Defence Minister Pant declared that India had decided to take strong military action against the LTTE.
Following such belligerent threats and unilateral action, the IPKF launched a vicious military attack on the LTTE fighters using tanks and artillery. On the morning of October 10, 1987, IPKF entered the offices of two Newspapers in Jaffna (Eelamurasu and Murasoli) and arrested all the workers. They then dynamited and blasted the machinery and equipment in those offices. At noon, the Indian forces tried to break out from Jaffna Fort into Jaffna town. When we tried to check their advance, the Indian army fired back. The LTTE in turn was compelled to return fire in self-defence.
The Indian army started shelling residential areas using heavy artillery and tanks for hours together. Their attacks increased in intensity and frequency. Because of these indiscriminate attacks, not only the Tiger fighters but also the civilians are dying in their hundreds. It was obvious the Indian Army had orders from Delhi to exterminate the Tigers even if that meant killing large number of civilians. Surrounded on all sides by the Indian Army, we are fighting in self- defence. We bear arms for a cause so that it is nobler to die fighting rather than be captured alive and die in disgrace. “
The war went on with great intensity. It took one long month for the Indian Army to capture Jaffna peninsula. Pirabaharan himself took command and led the fighting.
Pirabaharan finally decided that guerilla warfare is the best method to fight the Indian armed forces. So he withdrew with his fighters into the jungles of Vanni in Tamil Eelam.
From the Vanni jungles the guerilla war continued. There were heavy causalities on the Indian side. Unable to confront the Tigers in battle, they turned their anger against the people and killed innocent civilians. They killed several women after raping them.
While the war was in progress, Pirabaharan wrote to Rajiv Gandhi on 12/10/1987, 14/10/1987 and 13/01/1988. He informed him that if a cease-fire is declared and an interim council for Northeast is set up in accordance with the promise made to him, the LTTE was prepared to hand over arms. But Rajiv Gandhi wanted to kill Pirabaharan and then completely exterminate the entire LTTE fighters thus putting an end to the goal of an independent Tamil Eelam. So far from halting the war, he inducted more than 150,000 Indian soldiers into Tamil areas to execute his plan. As a result the war continued unabated.
All the Tamil groups which took up arms to fight for the liberation of Tamil Eelam turned traitors to the Tamils by forsaking the ideal of Tamil Eelam. They slavishly sold their souls to the governments of India and Sri Lanka and played the role of paid mercenaries and Quislings.
But Pirabaharan was the only leader who boldly stood up against Indian military aggression after rallying around the Tamil people of Eelam, cutting across caste, religion and regional barriers. While the whole world stood aghast in wonder, the tiny Tamil Eelam army fought the mighty Indian army like a ferocious Tiger. Even the Sinhalese people admired Pirabaharan as a first rate military commander who stood against foreign invasion. When the war was raging in full fury during the middle part of 1988, Pirabaharan came to be hailed as the’ National Leader of Tamil Eelam’ by the Tamil people in Tamil Eelam and other parts of the world.