நான் உள்ளே நுழைந்தவுடன் பாதுகாப்புச் செயலாளர் எழுந்து கை குலுக்கினார்: குமரன் பத்மநாதன்
அவர் கைது செய்யப்பட்டு ஒரு வருடம் பூர்த்தியான கடந்த 5ஆம் திகதி வியாழனன்று சிரேஷ்ட ஊடகவியலாளர் டி.பி.எஸ்.ஜெயராஜ், டெய்லி மிரர் ஆங்கில பத்திரிகைக்காக தொலைபேசி மூலம் குமரன் பத்மநாதனை பிரத்தியேகமாக செவ்வி கண்டார்.7ஆம் திகதி சனிக்கிழமை டெய்லிமிரர் பத்திரிகையில் வெளியான இப்பிரத்தியேக செவ்வியின் தமிழ் வடிவம் இது :-கே: கடந்த வருடம் ஓகஸ்ட் 5ஆம் திகதி நீங்கள் கைது செய்யப்பட்டீர்கள். ஒருவருட காலமாக தடுத்து வைக்கப்பட்ட நிலையில் உங்கள் தற்போதைய சூழ்நிலை குறித்து எவ்வாறு வர்ணிப்பீர்கள்?ப: நான் கைது செய்யப்பட்டபோது அதிர்ச்சியடைந்தேன். சுமார் ஒரு மணித்தியாலம் பெரும் திகைப்பாக இருந்தது. இலங்கைக்கு கொண்டுவரப்பட்ட போதும் கவலையடைந்தேன். ஆனால், நான் கடவுளை நம்புகிறேன். மோசமான நிலை ஏற்படலாம் என அச்சமடைந்த போதிலும் நான் அதிஷ்டசாலி. நான் கைது செய்யப்பட்டமை எனக்கு நன்மையளித்துள்ளது.துன்பப்படும் தமிழ் மக்களுக்கு சேவையாற்ற எனக்கு இப்போது வாய்ப்பு கிடைத்துள்ளது. எமது போராட்டம் இலங்கையிலுள்ள எமது மக்களை குறிப்பாக வன்னியிலுள்ள மக்களை பரிதாபகரமான நிலைக்குத் தள்ளியுள்ளது. இப்போது NERDO (வடக்கு கிழக்கு புனர்வாழ்வு மற்றும் அபிவிருத்தி அமைப்பு) ஊடாக சிறிய வழியிலேனும் என்னால் அவர்களுக்கு உதவ முடிகிறது.கே: நீங்கள் தடுத்து வைக்கப்பட்டுள்ள இடத்தின் சூழ்நிலை என்ன?ப: நான் வீடொன்றில் வைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளேன். நான் வெளியே போக முடியாது. ஆனால் வீட்டிற்குள்ளே சுதந்திரமாக எங்கும் நடமாடலாம். தொலைபேசியில் பேசுவதற்கு முழு சுதந்திரம் வழங்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. என்னை இங்கு சந்திக்க வருவதற்கு மக்கள் அனுமதிக்கப்பட மாட்டார்கள். நான் யாரையும் சந்திப்பதென்றால் அனுமதி பெற வேண்டும். அவர்களை சந்திப்பதற்கு நான் வெளியே செல்லும்போது சில அதிகாரிகள் என்னுடன் வருவார்கள். கட்டுப்பாடற்ற வகையில் மின்னஞ்சல் (ஈமெயில்) பயன்படுத்தும் வசதியும் உள்ளது.கே: எந்த வழியிலாவது நீங்கள் மோசமாக நடத்தப்பட்டீர்களா?ப: இல்லை நான் மிகவும் தயைவுடன் நடத்தப்படுகிறேன். ஆரம்ப நாட்களில் சிலவகை பதற்றம் இருந்தது. ஆனால் நாட்கள் சென்றபின் நம்பிக்கையும் பரஸ்பர மரியாதையும் நிலவுகிறது.கே: எவ்வாறு இந்த சூழ்நிலை ஏற்பட்டது? புலம்பெயர்ந்த தமிழர்களில் பலர் நீங்கள் அரசாங்கத்துடன் உடன்பாடொன்றைச் செய்துகொண்டதாகவும் உங்கள் கைது ஒரு நாடகம் எனவும் கூறுகிறார்கள். எவ்வாறு நீங்கள் கைது செய்யப்பட்டு இங்கு கொண்டுவரப்பட்டீர்கள்?ப: எனக்கெதிரான இத்தகைய குற்றச்சாட்டுகள் குறித்து எனக்குத் தெரியும். ஆனால் நான் எப்படி கைது செய்யப்பட்டேன் என்பதை நீங்கள் அறிவீர்கள். எனது கைது குறித்து ஆங்கிலத்தில் விரிவாக எழுதிய முதல் நபர் நீங்கள்தான். பல நாட்களின்பின் நான் அதை வாசித்தபோது சில சிறிய விடயங்களைத் தவிர, பெரும்பாலானவை சரியாக இருந்தன. இவர்கள் என்ன சொன்னாலும் உண்மை என்னவென்றால் நான் கைது செய்யப்பட்டு இலங்கைக்கு கொண்டுவரப்பட்டேன் என்பதாகும்.கே: நீங்கள் எவ்வாறு கைது செய்யப்பட்டு இங்கு கொண்டுவரப்பட்டீர்கள் என்று கூறமுடியுமா?ப: நான் ஹோட்டல் அறையில் அமர்ந்து, இங்கிலாந்திலிருந்து மலேசியாவுக்கு வந்திருந்த புலிகளின் முன்னாள் அரசியல் பொறுப்பாளர் நடேசனின் சகோதரருடனும் அவரின் மகனுடனும் பேசிக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். அப்போது எனக்கு கனடாவிலிருந்து ஒரு தொலைபேசி அழைப்பு வந்தது. சி.எம்.ஆர். வானொலியிலிருந்து ராகவன் பேசினார். தொலைபேசி சமிக்ஞை தெளிவாக இருக்கவில்லை. அதனால் நான் அவர்களிடம் கூறிவிட்டு வெளியே சென்றேன்.நான் ஹோட்டல் ஓய்வரங்கப் பகுதியிலுள்ள கதிரையொன்றில் அமர்ந்து தொடர்ந்தும் தொலைபேசியில் பேசிக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். திடீரென மலேசிய அதிகாரிகள் குழுவொன்று என்னை சூழ்ந்துக்கொண்டது. ஒருவர் 'வெரி சொரி மிஸ்டர் கே.பி'. என்று கூறிவிட்டு எனது தொலைபேசியை கைப்பற்றிக்கொண்டார். அது கீழே விழ மற்றொரு அதிகாரி அதை எடுத்தார். என்னை அவர்களுடன் வருமாறு கூறினர். அவர்களுடன் செல்வதைத் தவிர எனக்குத் தெரிவுகள் எதுவும் இருக்கவில்லை.நான் கோலாலம்பூரிலுள்ள குடிவரவு தடுப்பு நிலையமொன்றுக்கு கொண்டு செல்லப்பட்டு சுமர் 36 மணித்தியாலங்கள் (2 பகல்களும் 2 இரவுகளும்) அங்கு வைக்கப்பட்டிருந்தேன். தடுப்பு நிலைய அறையொன்றில் நான் உறங்கவேண்டியிருந்தது. அவர்களின் உரையாடல் மூலம் நான் அதிகாரபூர்வமாக நாடு கடத்தப்படவுள்ளேன் என்பதை உணர்ந்துகொண்டேன். ஆனால் நான் இலங்கைக்கா? இந்தியாவுக்கா? அமெரிக்காவுக்கா? அல்லது வேறெங்குமா? கொண்டுசெல்லப்படப் போகிறேன் என்பது எனக்குத் தெரிந்திருக்கவில்லை.அதன்பின், நான் கோலாலம்பூர் விமான நிலயத்திற்கு கொண்டு செல்லப்பட்டேன். அங்கு ஸ்ரீலங்கன் எயார்லைன்ஸ் விமானமொன்று காத்திருந்தது. அப்போது நான் கொழும்புக்கு கொண்டுசெல்லப்படப் போகிறேன் என்பது தெரிந்தது. நான் விமானத்தின் சிக்கன வகுப்புக்கான வாசல் வழியாக ஏற்றப்பட்டு பின்னர் உட்புறமாக வர்த்தக வகுப்பிற்கு மாற்றப்பட்டேன். அதையடுத்து நான் இலங்கை அதிகாரிகளிடம் கையளிக்கப்பட்டு கொழும்புக்கு கொண்டுவரப்பட்டேன்.கே: கைது செய்யப்பட்ட காலத்தில் நீங்கள் தாய்லாந்தில் வசித்தீர்கள். இந்நிலையில் பாங்கொக்கில் அல்லாமல் கோலாலம்பூர் புறநகரில் நீங்கள் இயங்கியமைக்கான காரணம் என்ன? 2007ஆம் ஆண்டு நீங்கள் தாய்லாந்தில் கைது செய்யப்பட்டதனாலா?ப: நான், தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகள் அமைப்பிற்கு வெளியே இருந்தபோது தாய்லாந்தில் பல வருடங்கள் அமைதியான வாழ்க்கையை முன்னெடுத்தேன். நான் அங்கு வசிப்பதும் அறியப்பட்டிருந்தது. மீண்டும் நான் புலிகள் அமைப்பில் தீவிரமாக செயற்படத் தொடங்கியபோது தாய்லாந்திலுள்ள எனது குடும்பத்தின்மீது மற்றவர்களின் கவனம் ஈர்க்கப்படுவதை நான் விரும்பவில்லை. அதனால்தான் நான் கோலாலம்பூருக்குச் சென்றேன். அத்துடன் எல்லா இடங்களிலிருந்தும் மக்கள கோலாலம்பூருக்கு வந்து என்னை பார்ப்பதும் இலகுவாக இருந்தது.உண்மையில் நான் 2007இல் கைது செய்யப்படவில்லை. என்னை கைது செய்ய ஒரு முயற்சி நடந்தது. சில அதிகாரிகள் அதிகாலை வேளையில் எனது வீட்டை சூழ்ந்துகொண்டனர். அதிஷ்டவசமாக நான் அங்கு இருக்கவில்லை. ஆனால் நான் கைது செய்யப்பட்டுவிட்டதாக இலங்கையில் செய்தி கசிந்தது.கே: நீங்கள் கொழும்புக்கு வந்தவுடன் என்ன நடந்தது? பாதுகாப்புச் செயலருடன் முதல் சந்திப்பிலேலேயே சிறந்த தொடர்பை ஏற்படுத்திக் கொண்டதாக நான் சில கதைகள் கேள்விப்பட்டேன்.ப: கொழும்பு நோக்கிய விமான பயணத்தின்போது இலங்கை அதிகாரியுடன் நான் நீண்ட நேரம் கதைத்தேன். அவர் மிக சினேகபூர்வமானவர். இலங்கை அதிகாரிகளால் நான் நாகரிகமாக நடத்தப்பட்டேன். அது எனக்கு ஆறுதல் அளித்தது. ஆனாலும் இலங்கை அடைந்தபின் என்ன நடக்குமோ என அப்போதும் இதயத்தில் கவலை இருந்தது. பாதுகாப்புச் செயலாளர் குறித்து மிக கவலை கொண்டிருந்தேன். அவர் கடுமையாகப் பேசும் சிங்கள கடும்போக்குவாதி என்ற அபிப்பிராயத்தையே நான் கொண்டிருந்தேன். அதனால் அவருடனான சந்திப்பு குறித்து உண்மையில் அச்சம் கொண்டிருந்தேன்.ஆனால், பாதுகாப்புச் செயலரின் இல்லத்திற்கு நான் கொண்டு செல்லப்பட்டபோது சில விடயங்கள் நடந்தன. பின்னணியில் ஒளி பளிச்சிட புத்தர் சிலையொன்று அங்கு இருந்தது. நான் சில நிமிடங்கள் நின்று புத்தர் சிலையை நோக்கிவிட்டுச் சென்றேன். அதனால் எனது மனம் ஆறுதலடைந்தது. தாய்லாந்தில் நான் எனது மனைவியுடன் அடிக்கடி பௌத்த ஆலயங்களுக்குச் செல்வேன். எனது வீட்டில் புத்தர் படம் உட்பட அனைத்து மத கடவுள்களின் படங்களும் உள்ளன. அதனால் எனக்கு பேராபத்து எதுவும் வராது என நான் நினைத்தேன்.பாதுகாப்புச் செயலாளர் ஏனைய அதிகாரிகளுடன் அமர்ந்திருந்தார். நான் உள்ளே நுழைந்தவுடன் அவர் எழுந்து என்னுடன் கைகுலுக்கிவிட்டு 'பிளீஸ் சிட் டவுண்' என்றார். ஏனைய அதிகாரிகளை எனக்கு அறிமுகப்படுத்தினார். திரு. கோட்டாபய மிக கண்ணியமானவராக இருந்தார். எதற்காகவும் கவலைப்பட வேண்டாம் என்றார். நான் அப்போது சரியாக என்ன சொன்னேன் என்று நினைவில்லை. ஆனால் "நுழைவாயிலில் நான் புத்தர் சிலையை கண்டேன், பாதுகாப்பாகவும் அமைதியாகவும் உணர்கிறேன்" என்பதுபோல் ஏதோ கூறினேன்.கே: நீங்கள் குறிப்பிடும் புத்தர் சிலை சம்பவமானது புலம்பெயர் தமிழர்கள் மத்தியிலுள்ள உங்களை விமர்சிப்பவர்கள், புத்தரை புகழும் துரோகியென உங்களை சித்தரிப்பதற்கு ஏதுவாகலாம்?ப: எனக்குத் தெரியும். நீங்கள் கூறுவது சரி. ஆனால் நான் உண்மையில் என்ன நடந்து என்பதையே சொல்கிறேன். நான் எதையும் மறைக்க விரும்பவில்லை. கடந்த ஜுன் மாதம் இலங்கைக்கு வந்த 9 பேர் கொண்ட புலம்பெயர் தமிழர் தூதுக்குழுவொன்றிடமும் நான் இந்த புத்தர் சிலை பற்றி சொன்னேன்.எனது வீட்டு சூழல் காரணமாகவும் எனது மனைவியின் மத நம்பிக்கை காரணமாகவும் எனக்கு புத்த வழிபாடு, ஆலயங்கள் பரீட்சியமானவை. எனவே புத்தர் சிலையை கண்டமை உணர்வு ரீதியில் எனக்கு உதவியது. இது தான் உண்மை. அதற்காக அவர்கள் என்னை தாக்க விரும்பினால் அதை செய்யட்டும். நான் புத்தருக்கோ பௌத்தத்திற்கோ எதிரானவன் அல்லன்.கே: உங்கள் உணர்வுகளை புரிந்துகொள்கிறேன். பாதுகாப்புச் செயலாளருடனான உங்கள் சந்திப்பு எவ்வாறு தொடர்ந்தது?ப: கேக், தேநீர் பரிமாறப்பட்டன. பிரச்சினையை அமைதியான வழியில் அவர்கள் தீர்க்க முயற்சித்ததாகவும் ஆனால் முழுமையான யுத்தத்தை மேற்கொள்ள வேண்டிய நிலைக்கு தள்ளப்பட்டதாகவும் பாதுகாப்புச் செயலர் கூறினார். அவர் சில கேள்விகளை கேட்டார். நான் உண்மையாக பதிலளித்தேன். எனக்குத் தெரியாத விடயங்களை கேட்டபோது அது பற்றி சொன்னேன். எனது பதில்களில் அவர் திருப்தியடைந்தவராகக் காணப்பட்டார். அதேவேளை, என்னைப் பொறுத்தவரை யுத்தம் நீண்டகாலத்திற்கு முன்பே முடிந்துவிட்டது எனவும் இப்போது எனது ஒரே குறிக்கோள் யுத்தத்தால் பாதிக்கப்பட்ட மக்கள் அதிலிருந்து மீண்டு இயல்பு வாழ்க்கை வாழ உதவுவதே எனவும் கூறினேன்.பாதுகாப்புச் செயலரின் நடத்தைகள் எனக்கு உண்மையில் வியப்பாக இருந்தன. தொலைக்காட்சி நேர்காணல்களைப் பார்த்து அவர் ஒரு சிங்கள கடும்போக்குவாதி என்ற விம்பமே என் மனதில் இருந்தது, என்பதையும் அவரின் நடத்தை எனக்கு ஆச்சரியமளிக்கிறது என்பதையும் ஒரு கட்டத்தில் நான் அவரிடம் சொன்னேன். அவர் சிரித்துவிட்டு "நான் எப்போதும் இப்படித்தான். சில ஊடகவியலாளர்கள் என்னை எரிச்சல்படுத்துகின்றனர். அதனால்தான் நான் அப்படி கோபமடைகிறேன் " என்றார்.நீண்ட உரையாடலின் பின்னர் அவர் ஒரு குறித்த அதிகாரியை எனக்கு அறிமுகப்படுத்தியதுடன், அவர் தான் எனக்குப் பொறுப்பாக இருப்பார் என்றார். சகல விடயங்கள் குறித்தும் அந்த அதிகாரியுடன் தொடர்பு கொள்ளலாம் எனவும் தேவையானால் அவரூடாக தனக்கு எழுத்து மூலம் எதுவும் தெரிவிக்கலாம் எனவும் கூறினார். அவர் மீண்டும் என்னுடன் கை குலுக்கினார். நான் கொழும்பிலுள்ள வீடொன்றுக்கு கொண்டு செல்லப்பட்டேன். எனது வாழ்க்கையில் ஒரு புதிய அத்தியாயம் ஆரம்பமாகியது.கே: அதன்பின் என்ன நடந்தது? நீங்கள் அரசாங்கத்துடன் சேர்ந்துகொண்டு வெளிநாடுகளிலுள்ள புலம்பெயர்ந்த தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகளின் செயற்பாட்டாளர்கள் பற்றி அரசாங்கத்துக்கு தகவல் கொடுப்பதாகவும் குற்றச்சாட்டுகளும் தகவல்களும் வெளியாகின?ப: இது பற்றி என்னை தெளிவாகச் சொல்ல விடுங்கள். இலங்கை புலனாய்வு அதிகாரிகள் என்னுடன் பேச ஆரம்பித்த போது எனக்கு இரு தெரிவுகள் இருந்தன. ஒன்று எதிர்ப்பது, இரண்டாவது ஒத்துழைப்பது. நான் மோதினால் நான் நீண்டகால சிறையை எதிர்நோக்க வேண்டியிருந்திருக்கும். அதனால் யாருக்கும் பலன் இருக்காது. ஆனால் நான் ஒத்துழைத்தால் நான் விசுவாசத்தையும் நம்பிக்கையையும் வென்றெடுக்கலாம். இது எமது மக்களுக்கு சில சேவைகளையாற்றுவதற்கு வாய்ப்பை வழங்கலாம்.போராட்டம் இப்போதும் தொடர்ந்து அத்துடன் எனது தலைவரும் உயிருடன் இருந்திருந்தால் நான் அரசாங்கத்தை எதிர்த்து ஒத்துழைக்காமல் இருந்திருக்கலாம். நான் எத்தகைய பின்விளைவையும் சந்தித்திருப்பேன். ஆனால் நிலைமை அப்படியில்லை. எல்லாமே முடிந்துவிட்டது. எனவே எதிர்ப்பதில் அர்த்தமில்லை. எனவே நான் ஒத்துழைப்பதை தெரிவு செய்தேன்.இன்னொரு விடயத்தையும் நான் நினைவுபடுத்த வேண்டும். நான் 2003 ஜனவரியிலிருந்து 2008 டிசெம்பர் வரை நான் இயக்கத்திற்கு வெளியே இருந்தேன். எனக்கு 2003 ஆம் ஆண்டிற்கு முந்தைய விசயங்கள் மட்டுமே தெரிந்திருந்தது. அக்காலப் பகுதியில் கட்டமைப்பிலும் பல மாற்றங்கள் ஏற்பட்டிருந்தன. சம்பந்தப்பட்ட நபர்களிலும் எனக்குப் பின்னால் வந்தவர்களால் மாற்றங்கள் செய்யப்பட்டிருந்தன. இதைத் தெளிவாக புலனாய்வு அதிகாரிகளுக்கு எடுத்துக்கூறினேன். அவர்கள் எனது நிலையை புரிந்துகொண்டனர்.நாங்கள் பேசும்போது வேடிக்கையான விடயமொன்று நடந்தது. ஒரு கட்டத்தில் அதிகாரிகள் என்னைப் பார்த்து சிரிக்கத் தொடங்கினர். "உங்களுக்கு தற்போதைய எல்.ரி.ரி.ஈ. பற்றி எதுவும் தெரியாது" என பகிடியாக கூறினர். அவர்கள் சொன்னது சரிதான். பல வருடங்களுக்கு முந்தைய கட்டமைப்புகள் பற்றி மாத்திரமே என்னால் சொல்ல முடிந்தது. 2002 ஆம்ஆண்டுக்கு பின்னரான சூழல் குறித்து எனக்கு அதிகம் தெரிந்திருக்கவில்லை. அதை அவர்கள் உணர்ந்துகொண்டு என்னை பார்த்து சிரித்தனர்.இலங்கை புலனாய்வுத்துறை எமது மக்களில் சிலர் எண்ணுவதைப்போல் முட்டாள்தனமானது அல்ல. அதேவேளை ஏனைய நாடுகளின் புலனாய்வுத் துறையுடனும் அதிக பரிமாற்றங்கள் மேற்;கொள்ளப்படுகின்றன.கே: ஆனால் புலம்பெயர்ந்தோர் மத்தியில் தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகளின் செயற்பாடுகள் குறித்த தகவல்களை நீங்கள் அரசாங்கத்திற்கு வழங்குவதாக, நெடியவன் தலைமையிலான காஸ்ட்ரோ சார்பு குழுவும் சில ஊடகங்களும் உங்களுக்கு எதிராக பிரசாரம் செய்கின்றன?ப: அது எனக்குத் தெரியும். ஆனால், உண்மை சற்று வித்தியாசமானது. புலனாய்வு ஆட்களால் பல்வேறு வட்டாரங்களிலிருந்து தகவல்கள் பெறப்படும் அதேவேளை, அவர்களுக்கு காஸ்ட்ரோவின் ஆட்களாலும் அதிக தகவல்கள் கிடைத்துள்ளன.கே: அது எப்படி?ப: எனக்கு சொல்வதற்கு சற்று தயக்கமாக இருக்கிறது. ஆனால் நீங்கள் கேட்பதால் சொல்கிறேன். இராணுவம் விசுவமடுவை நோக்கி முன்னேறிக் கொண்டிருந்தபோது காஸ்ட்ரோவும் அவரின் பிரிவினரும் அனைத்தையும் விட்டுவிட்டு ஓடிவிட்டனர். எனவே புலிகளின் வெளிநாட்டுச் செயற்பாடுகள் குறித்து இலங்கை அதிகாரிகளிடம் இப்போது அதிக தகவல்கள் உள்ளன. அவர்களிடம் கணினிகள், தகவல் திரட்டுகள் உள்ளன. புலிகளுக்குப் பணம் கொடுத்தவர்களின் பட்டியல்கள், திகதிகள், தொகைகள் என்பன உள்ளன. அவர்களிடம் வரி பற்றுச்சீட்டுகளின் பிரதிகள் உள்ளன. ஒவ்வொரு நாட்டிலும் யார் நிதி சேகரிக்கிறார்கள் என்பது அவர்களுக்குத் தெரியும். புலிகளினால் முதலீடு செய்யப்பட்ட வர்த்தகங்கள், சொத்துக்களை யார் நிர்வகிக்கிறார்கள் என்பதும் அவர்களுக்குத் தெரியும். சுமாதானப் பேச்சுவார்த்தை காலத்தில் வெளிநாடுகளிலிருந்து வன்னிக்குச் சென்ற அனைவரின் விசிட்டிங் கார்ட்டுகள்கூட அவர்களிடம் உள்ளன. ஆனால், தகவல் கொடுப்பவன் என மக்கள் என்னை தூற்றிக்கொண்டிருந்தால் நான் என்ன செய்ய முடியும்?கே: காஸ்ட்ரோவின் பிரத்தியேக டயரிகளும் கண்டுபிடிக்கப்பட்டதாக செய்திகள் வெளியாகின. அது உண்மையா?ப: நான் எந்த டயரியையும் பார்க்கவில்லை. ஆனால் புலனாய்வு ஆட்கள் உத்தியோகபூர்வமற்ற விதமாக நட்பு ரீதியில் என்னுடன் உரையாடிய போது காஸ்ட்ரோவின் 20 வருடகால டயரிகள் தம்மிடம் இருப்பதாகக் கூறினர். அவர் (காஸ்ட்ரோ) வெளிப்படையாக பல விடயங்களை அந்த டயரிகளில் எழுதியுள்ளார். ஒரு தடவை அதிகாரியொருவர் என்னிடம் சிரித்துக் கொண்டே காஸ்ட்ரோவுக்கு காதல் தொடர்பொன்று இருந்ததா எனக் கேட்டார். எனக்கு அது பற்றி தெரியாது என்றேன். அவர் சிரித்துக்கொண்டு முழுக்கதையையும் சொன்னார். காஸ்ட்ரோ அது பற்றிகூட எழுதியுள்ளார்.கே: தமிழிழ விடுதலைப் புலிகளின் வெளிநாட்டு கட்டமைப்பில் நீங்கள் மிக சக்தி வாய்ந்த நபராக விளங்கிய காலமொன்று இருந்தது. ஆயுதக்கொள்வனவு, புலிகளின் கிளைகள் நிர்வாகம், நிதி சேகரிப்பு, மூன்று முக்கிய பிரிவுகளுக்கு நீங்கள் பொறுப்பாக இருந்தீர்கள். 2003 ஆம் ஆண்டில் நீங்கள் இந்த இயக்கத்திலிருந்து விலகியபின் நீங்கள் உங்கள் செல்வாக்கை இழந்துவிட்டதைப் போன்றும், 2009 ஆம் ஆண்டு மீண்டும் அதில் இணைந்தபோது உங்களை மீள நிலைநிறுத்திக்கொள்வதற்கு சிரமப்பட்டதைப் போன்றும் தோன்றியது. அப்போது என்ன நடந்தது? ஏன் விலகினீர்கள்? நீங்கள் திருமணம் செய்ததுதான் காரணமா?ப: இல்லை இல்லை. எனது திருமணம் காரணமல்ல. நான் கடந்த நூற்றாண்டின் 90களின் முற்பகுதியில் திருமணம் செய்தேன். இந்த நூற்றாண்டில் அல்ல. எனது மகள் இப்போது தனது பதின்மர் பருவத்தின் கடைசியில் இருக்கிறாள்.எனவே, நடந்தவை வேறு. 2002 ஆம் ஆண்டு சமாதான முயற்சிகள் ஆரம்பிக்கப்பட்டு போர் நிறுத்தம் பிரகடணப்படுத்தப்பட்ட பின்னர், தலைவர் பிரபாகரன் புலிகள் அமைப்பை புதிய வழியில் மீளமைக்க முயன்றார். இவ்விடயங்கள் குறித்து நான் வன்னிக்கு வந்து அவரை சந்திக்க வேண்டும் என அவர் விரும்பினார்.ஆனால், அப்போது பல நாடுகளின் புலனாய்வு வலைப் பின்னல்களால் தேடப்படும் நபர்களின் பட்டியலில் நான் முன்னிலையில் இருந்தேன். 2001 ஆம் ஆண்டின் செப்டெம்பர் 11 தாக்குதல் உலகின் உலகின் பாதுகாப்பு நிலைவரத்தை மாற்றியிருந்தது. நான் அப்போது இலங்கைக்கு பயணம் செய்யும்' ரிஸ்க்' எடுக்க விரும்பவில்லை. நான் பல நாடுகளின் புலனாய்வு முகவரகங்களால் குறிவைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளேன் என்பதை எனது சொந்த தகவல் வட்டாரங்களின் மூலம் அறிந்திருந்தேன். எனவே நான் தயங்கினேன். இது எனது தலைவருக்கு சினமூட்டியது.மற்றொரு விடயம் எனக்கும் இயக்கத்திற்கும் தலைவருக்கும் இடையிலான இணைப்பில் (லிங்க்) மாற்றம் ஏற்பட்டது. 15 வருடகாலமாக வேலு என்பவர் எனக்கும் புலிகளுக்கும் பிரபாகரனுக்கும் இடையிலான தொடர்பாடல் இணைப்பாக அவர் செயற்பட்டார். திடீரென அவர் மாற்றப்பட்டு புதிய ஒருவர் நியமிக்கப்பட்டார். நான் வேலுவுக்கு பழக்கப்பட்டிருந்ததால் புதிய நபருடன் அஜஸ்ட் செய்துகொள்ள எனக்கு கடினமாக இருந்தது. ஒரு வழியில் தொடர்பாடல்கள் பாதிக்கப்பட்டன.அதேவேளை, புலிகளின் பல சிரேஷ்ட தலைவர்கள் போர் நிறுத்தத்தை தமது அதிகாரத்தை விரிவுபடுத்துவதற்குப் பயன்படுத்துவதில் அக்கறையாக இருந்தனர்.புலிகளின் கப்பல்களை கடற்புலிகளின் கட்டுப்படுத்த வேண்டுமென கடற்புலிகளின் தளபதி சூசை விரும்பினார். அதுவரை அக்கப்பல்களுக்கு நான் பொறுப்பாக இருந்தேன். அரசியல் பொறுப்பாளர் எஸ்.பி.தமிழ்ச்செல்வன் புலம்பெயர்ந்த மக்களின் அரசியல் செயற்பாடுகளைக் கட்டுப்பாட்டில் வைத்திருக்க விரும்பினார். காஸ்ட்ரோ வெளிநாட்டு நிர்வாகத்திற்குப் பொறுப்பாக இருந்தார். அவர் அனைத்து வெளிநாட்டுக் கிளைகளினதும் முழுக்கட்டுப்பாட்டை பெற விரும்பினார். நிதிக்குப் பொறுப்பாக இருந்த தமிழேந்தி நிதி சேகரிப்பு நடவடிக்கைகளில் அதிக பங்கு வகிக்க விரும்பினார். எனவே அவர்கள் அனைவரும் பிரபாகரன் எனது அதிகாரத்தை குறைத்து அவற்றை தமக்கு வழங்க வேண்டும் என விரும்பினர். போர்நிறுத்தம் காணமாக புலம்பெயர்ந்த மக்கள் பலர் வன்னிக்கு அடிக்கடி வன்னிக்குப் பயணம் செய்தனர். எனவே தம்மால் சகல விடயங்களையும் தொலைபேசி, பெக்ஸ், மின்னஞ்சல் மூலம் நேரடியாகக் கையாள முடியும் என பிரபாகரனுக்கு புலிகளின் ஏனைய சிரேஷ்ட தலைவர்கள் அறிவுறுத்தினர்.பின்னர் எனக்கு அதிக பொறுப்புகள் காரணமாக பளுமிகுந்துள்ளதாகவும் எனவே சில நடவடிக்கைகளிலிருந்து நான் ஓய்வுவெடுக்க வேண்டும் எனவும் அவர் பிரபாகரன் தெரிவித்தார். நான் என்ன செய்ய முடியும்? அதனால் நான் ஓய்வு பெற்றேன்.கே: உங்களுக்கும் வெளிநாடுகளிலுள்ள உங்கள் நெருங்கிய சகாக்களுக்கும் எதிராக சில குற்றச்சாட்டுகள் முன்வைக்கப்படவில்லையா?ப: ஆம். சில குற்றச்சாட்டுகள் இருந்தன. சில பெண்களை வன்னிக்கு அனுப்பி எனக்கும் பாரிஸிலுள்ள மனோ, ஒஸ்லோவிலுள்ள சர்வே ஆகியோருக்கும் எதிராக புகாரிடச் செய்யும் அளவுக்கு அவர்கள் சென்றனர். சில பெண்கள் பிரபாகரனுக்கு முன்னால் சத்தமிட்டு அழுததாகவும் நான் கேள்விப்பட்டேன்.கே: இதன் பின்னால் யார் இருந்தார்கள்?ப: அது ஒரு சதி. காஸ்ட்ரோ, தமிழ்ச்செல்வன் ஆகியோர் அதன் பின்னால் இருந்தனர். கவலையளிக்கும் விதமாக தலைவர் அதில் ஏமாற்றப்பட்டார். நாம் எம்மை நேரடியாக தற்காத்துக்கொள்ள முடியவில்லை.கே: அதன்பின் என்ன நடந்தது?ப: நான் முன்பு கூறியதைப் போல தலைவர் என்னை ஓய்வெடுக்குமாறு கூறினார். அதனால் நான் ஓய்வுபெற நேரிட்டது. வெளிநாட்டு நிர்வாகங்களை காஸ்ட்ரோ முழுமையாக பொறுப்பேற்றார். எனது விசுவாசிகள் என அவர் கருதிய அனைவரையும் அவர் நீக்கினார். சில மாதங்களுக்குள் ஏறத்தாழ அனைத்தும் மாறின. புலிகளின் விசுவாசமான செயற்பாட்டாளர்கள் பலர் அவர்களின் பதவிகளிலிருந்து முறையற்ற விதமாக நீக்கப்பட்டனர்.கே: ஆனால் அப்போதும் நீங்கள் ஆயுதக் கொள்வனவுக்குப் பொறுப்பாக இருந்தீர்கள். ஏன் அது மாறியது? எப்படி ஆனந்தராஜா அல்லது ஐயா உங்களுக்குப் பதிலாக நியமிக்கப்பட்டார்?ப: அது இன்னொரு கதை. ஐயா மிக விவேகமான மனிதர். அவரிடம் சிறந்த பயண ஆவணங்கள் இருந்தன. சுதந்திரமாகப் பயணிப்பார். அத்துடன் அவர் தகுதிபெற்ற கணக்காளர். எனவே எனது அறிவுறுத்தலின்படி அவர் எமது கணக்குகளை தணிக்கை செய்வதற்காக அவர் சகல நாடுகளுக்கும் செல்வார்.பின்னர் நான் அதிகமாக அறியப்பட்டு பல புலனாய்வு முகவரகங்களால் தேடப்பட்ட போது எனது பயணங்களையும் நடமாட்டங்களையும் கட்டுப்படுத்திக்கொள்ள நிர்ப்பந்திக்கப்பட்டேன். எனவே நான் அவரை ஆயுதச் சந்தையில் ஆயுதங்களை வாங்கக்கூடிய இடங்களுக்கும் அனுப்பத் தொடங்கினேன். ஆந்த இடங்களுடன் அவர் பரிட்சியமானார்.பின்னர் பிரபாகரனிடமும் எனது பிரதிநிதியாக அவரை நான் அனுப்பினேன். அவர் மீது நான் மிகுந்த நம்பிக்கை வைத்திருந்தேன். அவர் எனக்கு விசுவாசமாக இருப்பார் என நினைத்தேன். ஆனால் வன்னியிலுள்ள எனது நண்பர் ஒருவர் 'இவர் உண்மையாகவே உங்களுடைய ஆளா? அவர் உங்களுக்கு எதிராக தலைவரின் மனதில் நஞ்சூட்டிக்கொண்டிருக்கிறார்' என்று கூறியபோது அதிர்ச்சியடைந்தேன். ஐயா தானே சகல ஆயுதக்கொள்வனவுகளையும் மேற்கொள்வது போலவும் அனைத்தையும் தன்னால் செய்ய முடியும் என்பதுபோலவும் காட்டிக்கொண்டதாக அறிந்தேன்.அதன்பின் ஐயா பற்றி பாலா அண்ணை சொன்னது சரி என்று உணர்ந்தேன்.கே: பாலா அண்ணை (அன்ரன் பாலசிங்கம்), ஐயா பற்றி உங்களிடம் என்ன சொன்னார்?ப: பாலா அண்ணையும் அடேல் அன்ரியும் 1999 ஆம் ஆண்டில் வன்னியிலிருந்து கடல் வழியாக வெளியேறியபோது அவர்கள் மலேசியாவிலும் சிங்கப்பூரிலும் தங்குவதற்கும் லண்டனுக்குச் செல்வதற்கு முன்னர் மருத்துவ சிகிச்சை பெறவும் நான் ஏற்பாடு செய்தேன். நான் அப்போது இந்தோனேஷியாவில் இருந்ததால் அவர்களின் நலன்களைக் கவனிக்கும் பொறுப்பை நான் ஐயாவிடம் கொடுத்திருந்தேன். ஆனால் மனிதர்களை மிகச்சரியாக எடைபோடும் பாலா அண்ணை பின்னர் என்னிடம்"'நீ இந்த ஆளை நம்புகிறாய். ஆனால் இருந்துபார் ஒருநாள் உனது இடத்தை அவர் பிடித்துக்கொள்வார்" எனக் கூறினார். பாலா அண்ணையின் மதிநுட்பத்தை நான் உணர்ந்தபோது கால தாமதமாகியிருந்தது.கே: ஆகவே தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகளின் கே.பி. டிபார்ட்மென்ட் என அறியப்பட்ட, வெளிநாட்டுக் கொள்;வனவுப் பிரிவிலிருந்து நீங்கள் விடுவிக்கப்பட்டீர்கள். அதற்கு என்ன காரணம் சொல்லப்பட்டது?ப: நான் முன்பே சொன்னதைப்போல் தலைவரை சந்திப்பதற்காக நான் இலங்கைக்குச் செல்லவில்லை. பல புலனாய்வு நிறுவனங்களின் பட்டியலில் மேல் இடத்தில் நான் இருந்ததால் பயணம் செய்வது ஆபத்தானது என உணர்ந்தேன். இந்நிலையில் நான் ஆயுதம் வாங்குவதற்காக பயணம் செய்து ஆபத்துக்குள்ளாவதை தான் விரும்பவில்லை என பிரபாகரன் கூறினார். சில காலத்திற்கு ஓய்வெடுக்குமாறும் அங்கு வருவதற்கும் தன்னை சந்திப்பதற்கும் முயற்சிக்குமாறும் அவர் கூறினார். இதன்பின் நான் எனது கடமைகளை விடுவிப்பதைத் தவிர எனக்கு வேறு தெரிவுகள் இருக்கவில்லை. எனக்குப் பதிலாக நியமிக்கப்படுபவர்கள் தொடர்ந்தும் என்னிடம் ஆலோசனை கேட்பார்கள் எனவும் பிரபாகரன் கூறினார். ஆனால் அது நடக்கவில்லை.கே: இது எப்போது நடந்தது. உங்களுக்கும் பிரபாரகரனுக்கும் இடையில் பிரிவொன்று ஏற்பட்டதா? அதன்பின் என்ன நடந்தது?ப: இது 2002 ஆம் ஆண்டின் பிற்பகுதியில் நடந்தது. 2003 ஆம் ஆண்டிலிருந்து நான் இயக்கத்தின் அன்றாட செயற்பாடுகளிலிருந்து நான் விலகியிருந்தேன். ஆனால் நான் ஒருபோதும் முறையாக இயக்கத்திலிருந்து விலகவில்லை. அது பென்ஷன் இல்லாமல் ஓய்வெடுப்பது போலத்தான்.அவருக்கும் எனக்கும் இடையிலான நட்பில் பிரிவு எதுவும் இருக்கவில்லை. அவரிடமிருந்து பிரிந்திருக்கவும் என்னால் முடியாது. அவர் எனது தலைவர், நண்பர். அத்துடன் எனக்கு ஓர் மூத்த சகோதரன் போல. ஆனால் நடந்த விசயங்களால் நான் வருத்தமடைந்தேன். முன்புபோல் நான் அவரை அடிக்கடி தொடர்புகொள்ளவில்லை. நான் அதைச் செய்யவேண்டுமென அவர் எதிர்பார்த்திருக்கலாம். ஆனால் நான் அதைச் செய்யவில்லை. நாம் இருவரும் ஒருவரிடமிருந்து ஒருவர் திசைத்திரும்பியிருந்தோம். ஆனால் ஆனால், ஒரு போதும் பிளவு ஏற்படவில்லை. எமக்கிடையிலான பரஸ்பர அன்புணர்வு நீடித்தது.கே: அப்போது உங்களுக்கு எதிராக மேற்கொள்ளப்பட்ட பிரசாரங்களில் ஒரு பகுதியாக, பிரபாகரனுக்கு உங்கள் மீது வெறுப்பு ஏற்பட்டது எனவும் நீங்கள் துரோகி என அவரால் கருதப்பட்டதாகவும் கூறப்பட்டது.ப: அது எனக்குத் தெரியும். நான் 2003 ஆம் ஆண்டு புலிகளின் அமைப்பின் செயற்பாடுகளிலிருந்து ஒதுங்கியிருந்த பின்னர் வெளிநாடுகளிலிருந்து புலிகளின் புதிய தொகுதி செயற்பாட்டாளர்களுக்கு என்னைப் பற்றியயோ கடந்த காலத்தைப் பற்றியோ தெரிந்திருக்கவில்லை. எனவே எனக்கெதிராக எதுவும் சொல்லப்பட்டிருக்கலாம்.உண்மை என்னவென்றால், நாம் விலகியிருந்தாலும் எம் இருவருக்கிடையிலும் மிகுந்த அன்பும் பாசமும் இருந்தது. ஒரு சம்பவம் காரணமாக பிரபாகரன் எழுத்து மூலம் என் மீதான அன்பை வெளிப்படுத்தியிருந்தார். வெளிநாட்டிலிருந்த புலிகளின் வான்படைப் பிரிவு செயற்பாட்டாளர் ஒருவருக்கு சில விடயங்களுக்காக என்னுடன் கலந்தாலோசனை நடத்த வேண்டியிருந்தது. அதற்கு தலைவர் அனுமதியளிப்பாரா என்று அவருக்குத் தெரியாமலிருந்தது. எனவே அவரின் முன்னாள் நண்பர் கே.பியுடன் தொடர்புகொள்ளலாமா என்று கேட்டு அவருக்கு ஒரே மெசேஜ் அனுப்பினார். பிரபாகரன் தனது எழுத்து மூல பதிலில,; அதை செய்யலாம் என்று கூறியதுடன் கே.பி. தனது முன்னாள் நண்பன் அல்லவெனவும் 'இன்றும் என்றும் நல்ல விசுவாசமான நண்பன'; எனவும் வலியுறுத்தியிருந்தார்.கே: எனவே நீங்கள் புலிகள் அமைப்பிலிருந்து ஓய்வுபெற்றீர்கள். அப்போது உங்களுக்கும் புலிகளுக்கும் இடையிலான எல்லா விசயங்களும் முடிந்துவிட்டது என எண்ணினீர்களா?ப: அவ்வேளையில் நான் அப்படித்தான் நினைத்தேன். நான் புலிகள் அமைப்பிலிருந்து விலகியிருப்பதைப் பற்றி எனது மனைவியிடம் சொன்னது நினைவிலுள்ளது. இப்போது அவளுடனும் எமது மகளுடனும் அதிக காலத்தைச் செலவிட முடியும் என்று கூறினேன். ஆனால் அவள் "உங்களால் உண்மையாக அப்படி செய்ய முடியுமா? மீண்டும் வி.பி. (வேலுப்பிள்ளை பிரபாகரன்) உங்களை அழைத்தால் மீண்டும் திரும்பிச் செல்லாமல் இருக்க முடியுமா?" என்று கேட்டாள்.எனக்கும் பிரபாகரனுக்கும் இடையிலான பிணைப்பை எனது மனைவி உணர்ந்திருந்தாள். அவள் பிரபாகரனின் மனைவி மதிவதனியுடன் தொலைபேசியில் பேசுவாள். அவர்கள் இருவருக்கும் தமது கணவர்களுக்கிடையிலான நெருங்கிய நட்பு தெரிந்திருந்தது.கே: நீங்கள் மீண்டும் திரும்பிய விடயம் எப்படி நடந்தது? எப்படி ஏன் இந்த இயக்கத்தில் நீங்கள் மீண்டும் இணைந்தீர்கள்? யுத்தத்தின் கடைசி நாட்களில் உங்கள் பாத்திரம் என்ன? ப: அது மற்றொரு நீண்ட கதை.
continued from last week)
Question: So how did the return occur? How and why did you re-join the movement?What was your role during the last days of the war?
Answer: That’s another long story.
I was now out of the movement and leading a quiet life in Thailand with my family.I had no idea of returning to the movement though my wife felt that I would always go back if asked by Prabhakaran himself.
As for me I did not think that I would re-join because it is extremely rare for anyone being recalled by the LTTE after his or her services were discontinued. Also I knew the extent to which some senior LTTE leaders had worked against me and poisoned Prabhakaran’s mind against me.
But even though I was out of the LTTE I was always following the news about what was happening. Though I was out of the LTTE, I was getting worried as events unfolded because I could see from the news that the LTTE was not faring well.
The tiger ships were getting knocked out at sea by the Sri Lankan navy. As the man who had kept the LTTE supplied, I knew how important it was for the LTTE to maintain supplies throughout by the sea. So I realised that the ships getting destroyed was a bad thing
Q: How did that happen? How did the Sri Lankan navy become so efficient in taking out so many tiger vessels ?
A: I think various Colombo governments over the years had gradually built up and modernised the Navy. They were also getting additional intelligence inputs from different countries. So the Navy at the time of the ceasefire had reached high levels of efficiency. The ceasefire conditions and rules were not clear about movement in the sea. So the Navy was able to move about freely and monitor LTTE ships
Q: Did not the LTTE anticipate this?
A: Prabhakaran did anticipate this. He told me in 2000 that in the coming years the outcome of the war would be decided at sea. He wanted to build up the sea tigers to greater levels and meet the challenge.
I don’t know why but he seems to have changed plans later. The LTTE started to build up the fighters in the land and develop the air wing. Prabhakaran did not develop the LTTE’s sea power as he had intended earlier.
On the other sthe Navy was very active and strong.They put up a blockade around Lanka’s territorial waters. The navy also went out to far off spots and destroyed LTTE ships at sea.
The combination of effective Intelligence about LTTE ship movements and increased efficiency of the Navy resulted in LTTE sea movement getting severely restricted. I was told later that no LTTE ships were able to bring stuff to the east coast from 2007 onwards. Soosai told me “not even a panadol”.
Q: But did not this situation change after you re-joined the movement. There were reports in the media that the LTTE had been able to get two ships through in late 2008 and early 2009 . It was believed that you were responsible.
A: No that is not correct. I did not send any ships through. In fact I had not even tried to do that .
Q: I was under the impression that you had re-joined the movement to be in charge of sending supplies by sea and that you had done that by sending two ships through?
A: It is correct that initially the LTTE wanted me to re-join in order to send supplies by sea. But I had clearly explained that it was not possible at short notice.I went back to the LTTE to help work out some ceasefire arrangement and stop the war and not to resume supplying by sea
Q: Before we talk about that matter I want to ask you something bluntly.Some of your detractors blame you for the way in which LTTE ships were destroyed by the Navy. I have seen accusations against you in the Tamil media that you had pocketed the money given to buy arms and sent empty ships to Lanka and gave information to the Colombo govt and got the navy to destroy the ships.
A: Yes. I have seen the propaganda against me which you describe. This conspiracy theory shows the levels of imagination of some of our people.
Let me tell you clearly. I was out of the LTTE effectively from 2002 December. But the duty of handling the LTTE shipping fleet was taken away from me end of February 2002 as soon as the ceasefire came into place.It was brought under the sea tigers headed by Soosai.
I had nothing to do with the ships from that time. Then in December 2002 I was relieved of my duties of overseas purchasing (euphemism for arms procurement)The department known as KP dept was disbanded.
The arms procurement and transport responsibility was handled by Aiya and another called Ilankuttuvan. I had no knowledge of anything. I was not in charge of “kolvanavu” (purchasing). That being the real situation how could I have any information to pass on to the govt?
Q: But could you not have obtained info about ship movement from other LTTE cadres involved and passed it on?Some of your KP dept people with whom you would have some influence?
A: The LTTE works on a strict need to know basis. One unit does not know what the other does. So it would be impossible to get full info unless one contacted all the units involved
As for my KP dept people almost all of them were recalled and given new duties or discontinued. So there was no way that I could get information from them
One thing to note is that I too stopped talking to those involved in the work. Even when I got a friendly call once in a way I never asked about these matters.
I know the LTTE mentality very well. If I had even referred to these matters casually and then due to bad luck something drastic happened they would start suspecting me. So I never tried to get info about these matters from anyone.
You must remember that these types of accusation s are being said only now by people who have no knowledge about how the LTTE works. There was no charge like this earlier when the LTTE leadership was there. If there had been any suspicion I would not have been approached by the LTTE or given a new role after re-joining.
Q: Yes. I think we have digressed a little. So please relate the circumstances of your re-joining the LTTE?
A: As I told you earlier , I was observing events and realised that the LTTE was getting into difficulties because the sea supplies were not getting through. But I was now out and could do nothing. Then in the latter part of 2008 , Sea tiger commander Soosai and senior military commander Sornam began calling me frequently.
They explained that the situation was getting bad and that sea supplies had to be restored. They said that only I could ensure resumption of sea supplies and appealed to me to re-join the movement and take charge of overseas purchasing again.
I was in a dilemma. Though I felt bad I was reluctant to get back again. I had been living quietly for many years and enjoying family life. Also I fully well knew the international situation. Earlier the LTTE was not on the global terrorist radar. We could discreetly purchase what we wanted from the arms bazaar’s and ship them to the Island.
But now in a post – Sep 11th 2001 situation it was not so easy. I doubted very much whether even I could do what was expected of me. Besides I was out of touch for five years and needed time to set up things again.So I did not give them a word.
But then on December 31st 2008 everything changed.
Q: What happened on that day?
A: Prabhakaran called me and had a very very long conversation. He told me of the military situation in veryfrank terms. When he called me on Dec 31st Kilinochchi had not fallen but Prabhakaran said it would fall very soon. He then said that the fighting would shift east of the A-9 road afterwards.
Prabhakaran was optimistic that the LTTE would be able to hold on to a piece of territory with access to the coast for a long time. But he knew it could not be for ever and ever.Meanwhile he wanted me to re-join the movement and start purchasing and transporting supplies again.
When Prabhakaran asked me directly I could not say no. I agreed to re-join the LTTE but told him that my immediate goal would be to bring about a ceasefire and not resumption of supplies.
Q: Why did you say this and how did he respond?
A: I explained to him that the international situation had changed drastically. Intelligence agencies of many countries in the west particularly the US were swarming on areas of potential arms sales. Maritime movement was being monitored very strictly.Unlike the earlier days it would require much effort and preparation to resume sea supply effectively
I also told him that my KP dept network had been dismantled.I was out of touch and lost most contacts. Also I was being closely watched. So if I was to resume arms procurement I needed time to start work clandestinely and set up the network again.
I told Prabhakaran ,I needed at least one year to get things going.He said that may perhaps be too late.
In that case I suggested that the LTTE should go in for a ceasefire. Earlier in 1989 when the Indian army was strangulating the LTTE, Bala annai had played a crucial role and brought about an understanding with the Premadasa govt. I too had a supportive role in this
Now Bala annai was no more. Prabhakaran said that I must spearhead the task of bringing about a ceasefire and getting the LTTE a respite. He wanted me to commence talks with whoever necessary and bring about a ceasefire.
I then said I must be given a relevant position so that I could represent the LTTE officially and that I should get full cooperation from the LTTE overseas branches.Prabhakaran agreed and so when 2009 dawned I was back in the LTTE again.
Q: So you came back to the LTTE to coordinate and lead efforts to bring about a ceasefire? How did you go about it? Did you get the backing of the overseas tiger structure?
A: I was made the head of International relations in the LTTE. I was tasked to interact and negotiate with international actors and somehow bring about a ceasefire.The overseas branches were instructed to support me fully in my efforts.
Since Castro and I were not on good terms the Political commissar Nadesan was to be my link with the leader in these matters. Nadesan was to coordinate with Castro about issues concerning me.
But things were not easy or rosy. Even though I started work from January first week in 2009 ,the announcement about my appointment was delayed. Castro took a long time to convey it to the overseas branches. The “Tamilnet” delayed carrying a news item. The overseas Tamil media under Nediyavan’s control blacked me out.
Mar 29, 2009 in Ottawa – pic by
By Mikey G
Through Nadesan and the political wing , I got overseas branches to organize demonstrations highlighting the civilian plight and demanding a ceasefire. I specifically asked them to demonstrate without any symbols of the LTTE and make it a non-partisan humanitarian exercise.
There were many demonstrations and we were getting a positive response. But within weeks Castro gave instructions through Nediyavan that the demonstrators should carry LTTE flags and Prabhakaran’s portrait . Placards were shown asking the international community to remove the ban on the LTTE and recognize it as the sole representatives of Tamils.
When I tried to stop that I was portrayed as being against Prabhakaran. As a result of this political stupidity we had massive demonstrations without any results because they were seen as pro –LTTE and not pro-People demonstrations.
Q: In such a situation where Castro’s people were sabotaging you, how did you carry out your duties as LTTE international relations chief?
A: The way in which the overseas branches started sabotaging my work was terrible. They would not cooperate. I was not given sufficient funds. When I tried to get some funds from the branches it was refused. So I had to rely on my own funds and funds from supporters and LTTE associates in a personal capacity. I also had to set up my own staff and network by appealing to the old loyalists many of whom were now “retired”. These people rallied around me in a wonderful way.
Q: But why did you not complain to Prabhakaran and rectify the situation?
A: I did and sent messages to him but with 2009 the military situation had changed. The army was rapidly advancing. Prabhakaran’s personal security was threatened. So he had to maintain a low profile. Also without Velu, my earlier contact-link with Prabhakaran, communicating with the leader was difficult. The new guys were not very efficient or helpful in these matters. Nadesan also was hesitant to complain about Castro. Both had a good relationship.
Besides with the war hotting up I was also reluctant to pressure Prabhakaran continuously on these matters. I was also doubtful whether even Prabhakaran could have changed the situation. The Castro group was well-entrenched abroad. His deputy Nediyavan was running things. They knew how to delay or scuttle matters.
Q: I want to clarify something. I hope you will give me a candid answer.Was this peace initiative to bring about a ceasefire a time –buying exercise? Were you striving for a ceasefire on the one hand and trying to buy arms and ship them on the other?
A: My answer is NO.
I do not know about others in the LTTE leadership.Some may have thought of using it as a ploy but I was sincere and serious about a ceasefire. I was genuinely trying for one because I knew the LTTE was doomed if the war continued and I wanted to save the life of the people, Prabhakaran, my other comrades and the young fighters of the movement.
I did not play a double game of trying to negotiate peace and acquire arms at the same time. I believe in doing whatever task at hand with sincerity and without deception. If I were to try hard for a ceasefire openly and at the same time try to transport arms clandestinely it would be dishonest. I have to give my 100% to peacemaking and nothing else.
Also look at it this way. If I were found out or if international players helping me for a ceasefire got information that I was shipping arms then my credibility would have been lost. Trust in me and the intentions of the LTTE would have been destroyed. Just imagine the Sri Lankan government’s position if it was discovered that I was playing a double game?. All chances of a ceasefire would have been lost forever.
Q: Did this mean that the LTTE was not trying to ferry arms while you were working towards a ceasefire?
A: What I can say is that I was not doing or trying to do anything of the sort. But others may have been trying. You see with arms procurement and transport becoming difficult Prabhakaran had delegated such duties to some other divisions also. While Aiya was in charge of arms procurement the intelligence division under Pottu Amman, the international affairs division under Castro and sea tigers under Soosai were also delegated arms procurement duties. The situation was so desperate that Prabhakaran had put all these actors on to this stage. But still no progress was made.
Q: It looks like a case of too many cooks spoiling the soup. Do you think that you may have never let this situation develop had you been in charge all along?
A: Well I must say that arms procurement is not a simple thing like buying things over a counter. It is because of inexperienced eager people being entrusted with this task that some arrests were made like in Canada and the USA
When Soosai, Sornam and later Prabhakaran spoke to me they did say that it was a mistake to have removed me from arms procurement and that these problems would not have occurred if I was in charge
Though I was happy to hear that I doubt whether I could have managed to succeed under changed circumstances. With powerful countries monitoring movements like us in the global war against terrorism and the performance of a highly improved navy, I too may have found it difficult to procure and transport arms as required.
Q: Again let me ask you – were you trying for a ceasefire only to save the LTTE or was your commitment to peace deeper and really genuine?
A: I am glad you asked me this because I can speak openly about my change of heart. It was a slow process.
The time that I was out of the LTTE and leading a quiet life gave me time to give deep thought and reflect on things. I was also able to observe the world being transformed in the aftermath of September 11th 2001. Earlier they used to say one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. Now they were saying there is no good or bad terrorist. All are terrorists
I realised that a movement like the LTTE could not continue to fight and survive in a changing environment. The whole world will gang up against us. Also after decades of conflict the Tamil people were suffering. They needed peace.
So I really thought we must negotiate and reach a political settlement. Bala annai and I were of the same mind in this. I tried to convince Prabhakaran also of this. He then said to negotiate we must have a ceasefire first. So I began working earnestly for a ceasefire as a first step for a negotiated peace
Q: But were you really hopeful of a ceasefire?were you not fighting a lost battle? Looking back with the wisdom of hindsight what do you think?
A: At that time I was really hopeful about a ceasefire. I knew that somehow a ceasefire had to be brought about to save the lives of the LTTE leaders, cadres and innocent civilians caught in the middle.
Q: Did you not try to save the civilians by getting the LTTE to release them?
A: I did try at the start.
There was even an offer by the Americans to transport them by sea to Trincomalee. But the LTTE hierarchy was not agreeable. This attitude was most unfortunate and may appear as inhuman. I am not trying to condone or justify this action but when I reflect upon the past I think the LTTE leadership also had no choice. If they released the people first, then only the tigers would be left there. Thereafter all of them could have been wiped out.
Q: Mao Ze Dong’s famous dictum about guerillas being the fish swimming in an ocean of people.If the ocean was drained the fish would flounder. So the fish wanted to retain the water?
A:Exactly. That is why I tried for a ceasefire so that everyone ,the people and the fighters could be saved. But looking back now I think the LTTE leadership was too late in trying for a ceasefire. Had we tried in mid 2008 when the fighting was on the west of the A -9 highway there was a good chance of working out an agreement
But after Poonagary,paranthan, Kilinochchi and Elephant pass fell the prospects of victory were imminent for the government. The pace of events was too fast. From their point of view, with outright victory in sight , it would have been stupid to go in for a ceasefire
Q: Under these circumstances what did you do? What could you achieve?
A: I am essentially a worker. If given a responsibility I start doing it instead of finding reasons for not doing it. Also in this case it was a matter of life and death. I had to somehow work out a ceasefire and save the people,movement and leadership.
So with the meagre funds at my disposal and the support of like-minded people I commenced my work. I was in touch with international political leaders, top bureaucrats, diplomats,opinion makers of different countries and also high –ranking UN officials. I contacted some of them directly. Influential people contacted some others on my behalf.
In March 2009 I thought I had made a breakthrough but sadly Prabhakaran rejected the proposal.
Q: Was this the “lock-off” plan that was rejected by Prabhakaran in just three words? Could you elaborate please?
A: Well Yes.I had a tentative plan with international endorsement. The LTTE was to lay down arms by hoarding them in specific locations. The words used were “lock –off”. That is arms particularly heavy weapons were to be locked off in specific places.
They were to be handed over to representatives of the UN. Afterwards there was to be a cessation of hostilities in which the people were to be kept in specific “no firing zones”. Negotiations were to be conducted between the Govt and LTTE with Norwegian facilitation.
Tentatively about 25 to 50 top leaders with their families were to be transported to a foreign country if necessary.The middle level leaders and cadres were to be detained, charged in courts and given relatively minor sentences. The low level junior cadres were to be given a general amnesty.
The scheme was to endorsed by the west including Norway, EU and the USA. The Americans were ready to send their naval fleet in to do evacuation if necessary
Q: Was the Sri Lankan government agreeable
A: I don’t think there was any official intimation to Colombo but maybe they were sounded out informally. But the plan was never concretised because the main man concerned, Prabhakaran rejected it.
I had written an outline of the plan and sent it to him for approval. If he said “Proceed” I would have concretised it and started work on implementing it. But when I faxed the details in a 16 page memorandum he rejected the 16 pages in just three words “Ithai Etrukkolla Mudiyathu” (This is unacceptable)So I had to drop it
Q: Even if Prabhakaran had agreed to it do you think the Govt would have complied given the fact that the armed forces were on the verge of annihilating the LTTE?
A: I don’t know. Most probably the Govt may not have obliged because it was on the verge of victory and would not have wanted to be deprived of it. But the point is that it was never concretised and submitted to the Govt. Given the situation the LTTE was in, Prabhakaran should have taken it.
Q: Why did Prabhakaran reject it then?
A; I don’t know I can only guess.It is too painful to dwell on it because he is no more and I will always be thinking “why didn’t he accept this opportunity”?
Q: But your attempts to save Prabhakaran did not stop did it? There was some talk of a helicopter rescue attempt?
A: Yes. That was another plan but that too did not materialise because of the non – cooperation of Nediyavan and his cohorts abroad. Whenever I think of the fate that befell Prabhakaran’s family I grieve and then silently curse Nediyavan and his people.
Q: Do you think you can relate what happened if it is not too painful for you or you think that it needs to be told?
A: It is painful but I do think our people must know the truth about this matter. Maybe speaking about it may give me emotional relief.
What happened was that in early May 2009 , Prabhakaran’s eldest son Charles Anthony called me frantically. He calls me “KP Mama” or KP Uncle. Charles said that the situation was getting very bad and that I should somehow arrange to get his father, mother, sister and younger brother out to safety.
Q: What about Charles himself
A: No he did not want to escape.Charles said he was ready to fight to the last and die if necessary. It was his family he was worried about.
I was very upset after talking to Charles. So I thought of a plan. I wanted to charter a ship and keep it ready in international waters way beyond the reach of the Sri Lankan navy. I wanted to buy a helicopter and get some of the trained LTTE airwing pilots to fly it into the Wanni and pick up the family and bring them to the ship. Thereafter I had plans of keeping them safe in one of three countries
Q: But would Prabhakaran have agreed to this
A: I am not sure but after I had formulated a plan I got in touch with Charles and told him.I asked him whether his father would agree. Charles said he will try and make Prabhakaran agree but if he would not agree , I was to save his mother and two younger siblings.
Knowing Prabhakaran I felt he would never try to escape with his family ,leaving others behind. But I thought the helicopter could take him and some others to a jungle somewhere first and land him safely.Then the helicopter could fly out with Madhivadhani, Duwaraga and Balachandran
Q: What happened finally? Why did the plan not take off?
A: It’s a very sad story…………………………….(TO BE CONTINUED)
Question: What happened finally to your plan of rescuing Prabhakaran and his family by helicopter? Why did the plan not take off?
It’s a very sad story………
After Prabhakaran’s son Charles Anthony asked me to rescue his family members by air I devised a plan and made preliminary arrangements. I arranged for a ship to be kept waiting at a far –off port beyond the reach of the Sri Lanka navy. I also made arrangements to buy a second-hand helicopter from an Ukrainian contact.
The idea was for one or two trained pilots from the LTTE’s airwing “Vaan Puligal” to fly into the Wanni. If Prabhakaran was willing ,the family except for Charles Anthony were to be flown out. If the leader was unwilling then he and a few other of his bodyguards and senior leaders were to be flown by the copter and dropped off in a jungle location in Lanka.
Afterwards the heli would fly out to the ship with Prabhakaran’s wife Madhivadhani, daughter Thuwaraga and younger son Balachandran and perhaps a few others. I would be waiting for them at the ship. Thereafter I planned to keep the family safely in one of three countries.Perhaps in rotation.
Q; Were these countries ready to accept the family?Were they western nations?
A: No they were not countries in the west. Two were in Africa and one in Asia. I had been in touch with senior govt officials of these countries through my representatives. When I had sounded them out on this matter they were willing.
Q: The plan itself was rather risky ? Were you confident of it succeeding?
A: Yes it was risky but I was ready to carry it out.We had no choice. If we didn’t risk it, the alternative was certain death. I also had a secret hope that Prabhakaran may agree at the last minute and opt to fly out. So I devised the plan. The key element was surprise. If the first stage was successful we may have tried further flights too to rescue others.
Q: But then what went wrong?
A: It never worked out. It required about 1.5 million US dollars to implement the plan. I did not have that kind of money. The LTTE overseas structure had to give me the money. Castro had promised Charles Anthony that Nediyavan in Norway will transfer the necessary funds to me. But he never did it.
I made repeated requests that it was urgent and time was running out. I would be told “the money is coming, money is coming”. But sadly it never came.
Also Nediyavan was in touch with Atchuthan the Air wing chief living abroad. Earlier he had agreed to provide the required LTTE pilots for the operation. But then suddenly acting perhaps under Nediyavan’s orders he stopped communicating with me. I was really frantic. I approached mercenary pilots to fly the helicopter but nothing further could be done without necessary funds.
And then in mid-May the Sri Lankan army launched a three –pronged offensive and boxed off the Valainjermadam- Mullivaaikkaal- Vattuvaahal area. After that it was too late to attempt a helicopter rescue. So with great sorrow I abandoned the plan. I was furious with Nediyavan and Castro but helpless to do anything.
Q: And within days all were dead?
A: Yes. They were all dead. The whole family was gone. I was extremely sad at Balachandran’s death. He was only 12 years old. I had never seen the boy in person but when he was a child I used to talk to Prabhakaran frequently. This boy would be on his lap and Prabhakaran would often give the phone to him saying “Intha KP Mamavode kathai” (Here talk to KP uncle) So I would chat with him. Later I lost touch with the boy but I was apparently still existing in his memory.
When the war escalated and shelling increased the boy was very frightened. Later when Charles asked me to arrange for an aerial rescue and I started working on the plan, young Balachandran had been told not to worry and that he would be going to KP uncle soon. The little fellow had then put some of his belongings in a small bag and had been carrying it around with him all the time saying “Naan KP Mamata poren” ( I am going to KP uncle)
Sometimes in my thoughts, I visualise Balachandran with his bag telling people that he was going to KP Mama and waiting for a rescue that never took place. When I think of that I get so sad and angry at Nediyavan for obstructing the plan.
Q: Why did he do that?
A: I really don’t know but it must have been on Castro’s instructions. They did not want KP to get credit I think. But this was really a symptom of what had gone wrong in the LTTE. Individuals were letting their petty jealousies and divisions affect the overall good of the movement and struggle.
Q:You are sure about the entire family being killed? There are stories spread by sections of the Tamil Diaspora and Tamil Nadu politicians that Prabhakaran is alive and Madhivathani is alive and so on? What do you say?
A:These types of tales are spread by some for their selfish motives and others believe them because they don’t want to accept emotionally that it is over.
Q: But you don’t have first –hand knowledge of this?
A: Obviously no! But I was in touch with Soosai till the last stages. I have also heard about these matters from official sources. Most importantly I saw Prabhakaran’s body on TV .
Q: But these people disputing it say it was not his body?
A:Utter nonsense. When I saw the TV image I immediately knew it was Prabhakaran. I was so upset that I cut myself off from people and spent hours alone crying, reflecting and meditating.
Q: One of the reasons for this confusion was due to yourself also. When Prabhakaran’s death reports surfaced you announced to the media that it was not so and that he was alive in a safe location. Subsequently you went back on that denial. This action eroded your credibility greatly and provides ammunition to your critics. Why this flip-flop? Can you explain?
A: Yes, I will be happy to explain. What happened was that Prabhakaran ,Pottu Amman and some others broke out clandestinely in one group and moved through the lagoon and coast. Two other groups also moved out in different directions. The idea was to reach the jungles safely
Reconnaissance missions done earlier showed that the soldiers were in three layers around the encircled area. Soosai with whom I was interacting was informed that Praba and Pottu had broken through all three layers. After that there was no communication. We both assumed that the leader had reached a safe place and predictably cut off communication to avoid being monitored.
It was after this that I issued the statement about silencing our arms. I did this in consultation with Soosai. I was using this statement as a basis to accelerate peace initiatives and come to an arrangement where the remaining people could be saved. Nadesan and Pulidevan from another location were also engaged in negotiations.
It was the earlier information received by me that Prabhakaran had broken through the military layers that gave me the belief that he had reached safety. It was this confidence that made me dismiss reports of Prabhakaran’s death and state that he was safe. Also the first media report about Prabakharan being dead was in relation to the ambulance escape. That report was false. Prabhakaran was not in an ambulance
But shortly before I lost contact with Soosai the sea tiger chief surprised me by saying that Prabhakaran could not break through and had returned. Soosai said that he was only a few hundred yards away from the place he was in. Soosai said that the break out attempt had failed and Prabhakaran had returned without Pottu Amman. He could not give me any more information other than that, except to say the fighting was really fierce. A little later I lost contact with Soosai
Some time later I saw Prabhakaran’s body on TV and immediately realised it was all over.
But I must emphasise that my earlier statement denying Prabhakaran’s death and subsequent statement confirming it were both given with all honesty. I did not intend to mislead anyone. I made them on the basis of the information available at that time. People must remember that fighting was going on and communication was difficult. They say “Porin moodupani” (fog of war) about war situations where people get wrong information about the situation.
Q: Yes. I think the term “fog of war” was first used by Clausewitz and recently made famous by Robert Mcnamara. But tell me how did Prabhakaran die? Do you know?
A: You understand that I was not there and must rely on what I heard or was told. On Prabhakaran’s death the information I got was that he and a group of 60 tigers were trapped in a strip of land adjacent to Nandhikkadal lagoon. They had all fought to the very end and died in battle.
Q: What about the stories about Prabhakaran surrendering and being shot after being humiliated?
A: No that never happened. If I know anything about Prabhakaran he would never ever have surrendered. I know the stories being spread. Some do so deliberately. Some simply repeat what they hear without thinking.
I know reliably that a senior TNA leader went around saying that Prabhakaran had surrendered and was brought to Sarath Fonseka who made the LTTE leader kneel down and then shot him. Nonsense! I can’t understand why a veteran Tamil leader who used to cringe before Prabhakaran should speak about him this way after death.
V.Prabhakaran ~ pic courtesy of: karthi keyan ~ Anikartick ~ Chennai
But the army people who defeated Prabhakaran speak highly of him and the way in which he died. Top persons in the defence establishment –I think you understand who I am referring to – told me that they had been very impressed by the courageous way in which this group had fought to the very end and died without surrendering.But some of our people are insulting Prabhakaran after his death. I want to reiterate that my leader fought to the very end and had a “Veera maranam” (heroic death)
Q: I have heard that during the Indian army period Prabhakaran had a bodyguard who carried a plastic can of petrol. His orders were to burn Prabhakaran’s body if he was killed so that the enemy should not get hold of it. But this time that does not seem to have been done.What happened?
A: I heard he had similar preparations this time too. For Prabhakaran it was very important that his body should be disposed of without others getting hold of it. What I think is that the petrol can may have fallen into the water or maybe the fighter entrusted with the duty was killed before Prabhakaran. I am only guessing I really don’t know.
Q: What about Pottu Amman? What do you think happened to him?
A:Since Prabhakaran and Pottu broke out together and Prabhakaran came back alone I presume that Pottu had died in the escape attempt. Otherwise he would have been at Prabhakaran’s side. Since the army is very sure that Pottu’s body was not recovered I am assuming that Prabhakaran himself would have got Pottu’s body destroyed to ensure it did not get into army hands.
Q: There is also the possibility that Pottu escaped?
A:As an argument yes! But realistically no!
The people who say Prabhakaran and Pottu are alive and would surface some years later are only insulting and disgracing their memory. Those who keep up this ridiculous claim must produce Prabhakaran and Pottu without uttering stupid nonsense.
Q: Another point I want to ask you is about Prabhakaran’s body. I expected Prabhakaran’s family members to demand that Prabhakaran’s body be handed over to them and for the overseas tigers to organize a final farewell to the man who dedicated himself to the cause he espoused for nearly 40 years.
A: I thought as you did at that time and obtained legal and diplomatic advice.
I was told that if Prabhakaran’s siblings would make a request that their brother’s body be handed over to them international pressure could be exerted on Colombo in that respect.
So I got in touch with Prabhakaran’s brother and one of his two sisters to ask them to make such a demand. I was rebuffed. In fact his sister’s husband snatched the phone from his wife while I was talking and rudely hung up on me after telling me not to call again. So there was nothing I could do and in the meantime the govt announced that his body was cremated and ashes scattered in the sea. That was that.
Q: So Prabhakaran died in battle. What about the rest of the family? What happened?
A:According to the information I have the wife Madhivadhani was killed in the shelling. I believe it happened before Prabhakaran made his break –out attempt.
Charles Anthony was injured in the fighting earlier but he continued to lead cadres in a last ditch stand. As I told you earlier he did not want to escape and died fighting.
Another thing in this is that Kuga the widow of Sornalingam alias Shankar(killed on Sep 27th 2001) remained with Charles and died along with him. Kuga was a close friend of Madhivadhani and had promised her that she would always be with Charles and be like a mother to him. She refused to leave with other wives and widows and remained with Charles.
The daughter Thuuvaraga also fought and died on the battlefield. I hear she died on May 14th.
As for the youngest kid Balachandran I am a bit puzzled. He would have remained close to his mother and so would have died in the shelling along with his mother. But the pictures I saw on the internet of a dead Balachandran did not indicate he had been killed in the shelling. So there is some confusion in this.
Q: Prabhakaran and the family being killed in this way must have been a terrible blow to you. I think you were his “Maapillai Tholan” (best Man) at his wedding. Why did you perform this role among all his senior deputies and commanders?
A:Yes. I have been close to him and the family. Their loss is a huge,personal loss. My inability to help them or save them will be a permanent source of grief to me.
You asked me about being the Groom’s friend at the wedding. There was a reason for it. When Prabhakaran fell in love with Madhivadhani and wanted to marry her most of the senior leaders and commanders were not in favour. They were opposed to it on the grounds that it would affect the movement.
At that stage Prabhakaran turned to me. He was very shy to tell me about this due to another happening in the past. You see when I joined the LTTE I was also romancing a girl. But Prabhakaran asked me to end the love affair saying a revolutionary should not be involved in a romance. With great reluctance I obeyed him and ended my love then.
Now the situation had changed and Prabhakaran was in love and asking my help. No wonder he was feeling awkward. But I immediately supported him and encouraged him to go ahead with the marriage. I personally spoke to several senior leaders and made them change their mind. It was I who met Prabhakaran’s father and informed him of his son’s matrimonial plan. It is because of this reason that I played the best man role at the wedding
Q: Even after the wedding you were close to him and the family?
A: Yes. Though I spent most of the time outside I was in constant touch with Prabhakaran those days. I used to talk to the children and wife also. After I got married my wife and Madhivadhani used to converse with each other on the phone
I also used to send personal gifts to each member of the family along with the stuff I used to ship to Lanka
During the Indian army period when Prabhakaran had to go to the Wanni jungles his wife Madhivadhani was finding it difficult to cope with two young children. Prabhakaran wanted to send them to a safe place for a while. He wanted to send them to an old comrade “Singham” living in Sweden.
They were brought by boat to India. Thereafter I arranged for travel documents and got them sent to Scandinavia. Later we found that Prabhakaran’s friend was having some problems and finding it difficult to accommodate Madhi and the children
So I took the risk of traveling to Sweden on false papers and transported the mother and children to Denmark. I arranged for safe accommodation there.
Q: With her family members?
A:No not with them. They were reluctant. This was elsewhere with some others.
Then came the talks with the Premadasa govt in 1989. I used the opportunity to get proper travel documents and went to Scandinavia from where I personally escorted the mother and kids to Colombo. I took them to the Wanni and handed them over to Prabhakaran saying I have brought your family home safely. He was very very happy
When I think of that time where I transported the family safely and of the present time where I could not help them I feel very, very sad. Those days both son and daughter were fond of me and I used to carry them frequently
Q: Yes I recall seeing pictures those days of you carrying Charles.
On the question of Charles Anthony and his sister Thuvaraga, there were media reports that they were studying in Britain and Ireland. What happened? When did they return and why?
A:No, no, no! They were never abroad for studies. That’s all false.
A: You see both children were very clever and could have done very well in higher studies. The mother Madhivadhani was very keen about it. When Bala annai and Adele Aunty came out of the Wanni in 1999, Madhivadhani sent a request to me that I should make arrangements for the children’s higher studies abroad.
So I took some time and made careful preparations. I made foolproof arrangements where both could come abroad and commence higher studies in a very safe environment without their identity being revealed. Madhivadhani was very happy.
But the father Prabhakaran changed his mind after agreeing to it initially. He simply refused to let the children go. Madhivadhani could not make him change his stance. So that was that. They never came abroad for higher studies. Later both joined the movement voluntarily and became trained fighters
Q: Why did Prabakharan adopt this position?
A:I suppose it was due to his principles. He felt it was not correct for him to send his children abroad to safety and higher studies when the children of other people had to remain in the Wanni. It was the same principle that made him encourage the son and daughter to join the movement. Again he felt that he could not keep his children safely at home when the children of other people were fighting.
Q: Thank you for shedding some light on this issue. It appears that we have been misinformed about the actual situation.
However why is it that deliberate attempts are on to spread misinformation and disinformation about Prabhakaran’s demise?Why is there a divergence on this matter between you and Nediyavan?
A:At the start the refusal to accept the truth was emotional. For instance when I issued the statement about Prabhakaran being dead, an activist belonging to the intelligence wing –Kathirgamathamby Arivazhaghan – issued a statement contradicting it. But later he realised the truth and issued another statement accepting that Prabhakaran was no more.
In the case of Nediyavan and those around him they may have had doubts at the start.But now they know fully well that Prabhakaran is dead. However they are deliberately refusing to accept it publicly and are spreading stories that Prabhakaran is alive and that the armed struggle to achieve Tamil Eelam continues.
The pronouncements of Tamil Nadu leaders who say we must fight and get Tamil Eelam and present it to Prabhakaran when he appears helps in this false propaganda.
Q: What is Nediyavan’s motive in projecting this false impression about Prabhakaran being alive?
A:Money! Everything is money now. When I issued a statement about Prabhakaran being dead they started opposing it saying the leader was alive.When I planned to pay homage to Prabhakaran and other senior leaders they blocked it. Earlier I thought they were genuine in this belief about Prabhakaran being alive but later I discovered that they knew the truth but were pretending.
Q: How was that?
A: You see after some time I began negotiating with Nediyavan in a bid to patch up our differences and establish unity. One of the matters I was firm about was that we should acknowledge Prabakharan’s death and conduct a week of mourning. Then Nediyavan said that we should never acknowledge Prabakharan’s death publicly because the movement would not be able to collect money from the Diaspora after that.
I then told him that we cannot run a movement on lies and falsehoods. Besides we would be ungrateful people if we could not pay tribute to the leader who had fought unceasingly for the Tamil cause all these years
I also pointed out that Prabhakaran was the “Aathmaa” (Soul) of our struggle. Without him there was no struggle, no movement or no Tamil Eelam. I said that we needed large amounts of money only to buy arms.With the armed struggle over, we did not need such huge amounts. I said that the businesses we were operating abroad and small donations from our committed supporters were enough to run the movement.
I also said our new task was not to conduct a war but to help our people. The immediate goal was to secure the release of LTTE members in custody and rehabilitate them.The other was to get our displaced Tamils released and resettled
Nediyavan reluctantly agreed and we established unity resulting in myself becoming the leader in a re-structured LTTE. This was in July 2009.I was the chief secretary and Nediyavan the secretary in charge of overseas branch administration. It was agreed to commemorate Prabhakaran’s death during the great heroes week of November.
But then I was seized within weeks on August 5th and brought to Colombo. With that everything collapsed and Nediyavan got the upper hand. So Prabhakaran’s death was not acknowledged and the myth of him being alive is kept alive still.
Q: You said earlier that money plays a big part in this myth being perpetuated. I think I can guess why and how. But could you elaborate please?
A:During the last few months of the war a massive special collection was conducted among the diaspora. Not even a cent went to the war effort. That money is controlled by Nediyavan and his cohorts. There are also numerous money –making concerns either run directly or being financed by the LTTE. All this is big money. There is also an amount collected on behalf of the TRO(Tamil Rehabilitation Organization)
If Nediyavan and his people are to retain control of this cash and businesses and also raise more funds in the future they need to stage the drama that the armed struggle is not over and Tamil Eelam is just there at the junction. For that the big lie about Prabhakaran being alive must be maintained because our people know that without Prabhakaran there can never be a victorious armed struggle in our lifetime.
But this cant go on forever. Gradually the truth will be realised by all and Nediyavan will be exposed.
Q: This explains the puerile politics of Nediyavan and his cabal. But why are Tamil Nadu politicians like Nedumaran and Vaiko (V.Gopalaswamy) also saying that Prabhakaran is alive? Do they really believe it?
A: No. They also know the truth but they too have links to the overseas LTTE now controlled by Nediyavan. Also their politics has been around the image that the LTTE is invincible and Prabhakaran is immortal. So they have to keep on saying Prabhakaran is alive and Tamil Eelam will bloom.
Q: Have you not tried to convince people like Nedumaran and Vaiko?
A: Last year before I was caught I did telephone Nedumaran and spoke for a very long time explaining the position. He then told me to get the LTTE’s central working committee to pass a resolution saying Prabhakaran was dead. How could I do that? All the leaders were dead or missing or in custody.
Then this man Nedumaran did another dirty thing along with Vaiko. They issued a statement saying Prabhakaran was alive and that KP was an agent of the Indian spy agency RAW.
After that I stopped trying to talk to them. I did not speak to Vaiko but I know reliably that he knows Prabhakaran is no more. When told of the death in private Vaiko “kulungi Aluthar” (shaken and cried) But in public he maintains the lie of Prabhakaran being alive. No amount of secret weeping by Vaiko can take away his guilt in the downfall of the LTTE. It was he who spoiled chances of an India sponsored ceasefire
Q: What do you mean? What did Vaiko do or not do in this matter?
A: While I was trying to bring about a ceaefire on one side the political commissar Nadesan (Balasingham Mahendran) was also trying for one. At one stage pro-LTTE sympathisers in the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham) like chief minister Karunanidhi’s daughter and Rajya Sabha MP, Kanimozhi along with the Catholic priest Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj had been negotiating with Central govt minister P.Chidambaram about a possible ceasefire
With Indian Parliamentary elections being held and AIADMK Leader Jayalalitha taking up a pro-LTTE stance the DMK-Congress combine was getting worried about losing. So Chidambaram came up with an idea. He wanted the LTTE to issue a unilateral statement with two main points. One was to agree to silence arms and surrender them in due course. The other was to accept a political settlement as an alternative to Tamil Eelam.
What I heard was that Chidambaram himself had “unofficially” drafted the statement for the LTTE to release under its name. The guarantee given was that New Delhi would exert pressure on Colombo when the statement was released and bring about a ceasefire pending negotiations.
Though Nadesan had been advised not to leak details of the move to people like Nedumaran and Vaiko, he had at one point of time consulted K. Mahendran the Tamil Nadu legislator from CPI(Marxist). The CPM was an election ally with Vaiko’s MDMK in the AIADMK led alliance. Mahendran had leaked details of the plan to Vaiko.
Both were worried that the Congress and DMK would get the credit for a ceasefire and do well in the elections. So they wanted to sabotage it. Vaiko then got angry at the LTTE and warned Nadesan that if the tigers opted for an alternative to Tamil Eelam then the MDMK and other Tamil Nadu parties supportive of the LTTE would permanently withdraw their support to the LTTE.
Nadesan was given the false hope that the AIADMK led alliance will sweep the seats in Tamil Nadu and the BJP will form the govt in New Delhi. Then pressure could be put on Colombo for a ceasefire. Any ceasefire before elections could help the DMK –Congress.
So this man Nadesan abandoned the idea of releasing a statement. Chidambaram could do nothing. All because of Vaiko. They were so selfish that they prevented a possible ceasefire thinking they will do well at the polls.
Q: But even if they had issued such a statement do you think Colombo could have been forced to agree to a ceasefire at that stage when the defeat of the LTTE was imminent? On the other hand even if the BJP won and AIADMK alliance swept the polls in Tamil Nadu things on the ground in Lanka could not have been changed overnight. Given the speedy progress of the Army things would have been over long before India moved even if it wanted to?
A: I agree. But what I am saying is that even the chance of attempting a ceasefire through Indian help was spoiled at the start itself by this man Vaiko. A selfish politician who let the LTTE be sacrificed for his election ambition. Now he is shedding crocodile tears for Prabhakaran in private and publicly talking of another Eelam war. How long will these fellows grind chilly on our heads?
Q: Thank you for relating in detail about these important events of the recent past. Your input provides fresh insight into these matters. But now I want to ask you about the present.
Let me start with your relationship with this government particularly the Defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse. You have already told me about your arrest and your first meeting with the defence secretary. Its obvious that both of you have established good rapport. But there are lots of allegations about this. Several opposition leaders and sections of the media have alleged that there is some kind of shady deal between . What do you have to say?
A: My answer is just the truth. It really is a simple story………………………….
(TO BE CONTINUED)
QUESTION: Thank you for relating these details about these important events of the recent past. Your input provides fresh insight into these matters. But now I want to ask you about the present.
Let me start with your relationship with this government particularly the Defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse. You have already told me about your arrest and your first meeting with the defence secretary. It’s obvious that both of you have established good rapport. But there are lots of allegations about this. Several opposition leaders and sections of the media have alleged that there is some kind of shady deal in between . What do you have to say?
Gotabhaya Rajapakse ~ pic courtesy: businesstoday.lk
ANSWER: My answer is just the truth. It really is a simple story…… There is no deal of any kind. There is only an understanding. A genuine understanding. Both of us have some common objectives. So we are working together to achieve those goals. That is our point of agreement. Nothing else.
Q: Could you elaborate further please? What exactly is this meeting point?
A: The war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) is now over. The Defence secretary Mr.Gotabhaya Rajapakse who coordinated and planned the war effort is now engaged in a different role. The Defence secretary has to maintain peace and prevent any possible eruption of violence again. Both he and the Govt of President Mahinda Rajapakse realise that much has to be done to resolve the problems caused by the war. There are a large number of former LTTE cadres in custody. The Internally displaced persons (IDP) being re-settled have to be rehabilitated and normalcy restored.The President and his brothers want to address these issues.
At the same time I am also concerned about these issues. I too want to see the boys and girls released as early as possible. I want them to be given a fresh start in life. I want the IDP returnees resettled and rehabilitated. So there is agreement between us in these matters. The Defence secretary has provided an opportunity for me to get involved in these matters to a certain extent and do what I can. This is our meeting point or area of agreement.
Q: But the question puzzling many is why you the former head of the re-structured LTTE is being given a chance to get involved in these matters?
A: I think the best person to answer this question is the Defence secretary himself or some responsible government minister or official. I can only answer from my perspective or what I think is behind the Government’s thinking…
Q: Please do. Tell me why you think you are being given this opportunity?
A: What I think is that they have a tricky dilemma. They want to release,rehabilitate and resettle detenues and IDP’s as soon as possible. The longer they delay the greater the international criticism.
But on the other side they are also cautious about the security angle. They don’t want these released and resettled people to be used by interested parties for anything in the future that could result in the separatist demand being raised again or an outbreak of political violence.
Because of this the government authorities are very careful. This has resulted in matters moving slowly. This slow pace also results in the govt getting criticised.
So the govt is looking out for ways to help them address these matters faster and also ensure security interests are met. It is here that I come in I think. They are giving me a chance to play a small role in these matters like the squirrel in the “Ramayana” who helped build a dam across the sea. This gives me an opportunity to do something meaningful in my life. So I am very happy and glad.
Q: But why you? Why not some NGO or group of NGO’s? Why not the Tamil parties aligned with the government?
A: You asked me about NGO’s and Tamil parties and why they are not being given a role. Again I can only say what I think from what I have heard.
What I feel is that the govt does not trust most NGO’s due to bad experiences in the past. This is why I think only limited access is given to many NGO’s.
They are also very disappointed with some Tamil parties who abused and misused the access given earlier.
The issue of thousands of ex-tiger rehabilitees is a highly sensitive matter with political and security implications. The govt does not want to take a risk in this even if it gets criticised. The impression I get about the defence secretary is that he would prefer to get criticised rather than risk a grave security breach by letting each and every organization interact with the ex-tiger cadres
In such a situation I am getting a chance to play a role. The govt is prepared to let me interact with ex-tiger rehabilitees and others to be of some service. They trust me and also have nothing to fear about me because after all I am in their custody too. As for me I welcome this chance to be of service to some of my people particularly the ex-tiger cadres.
Q: What is it that motivates you in this respect?
A: I am perhaps the most senior among former tiger leaders today. I feel very very guilty when I see the tragic plight of the Tamil people today. I feel extremely sad and bad when I see the fate of these young people. I cannot deny that many of these children were forcibly recruited against their will.
I also feel a lot of remorse when I see the civilians of the Wanni. They were prosperous once but are now in abject poverty due to the war. Because of this I want to do some penance at least by helping them as far as possible.
There is also another reason. I heard a story last year that Prabhakaran and the leadership were engaged in a discussion in mid-May when someone had asked “What happens to our people and cadres”? To this Prabhakaran had apparently replied. “KP is there.He will look after the people and cadres.”
Some months ago I got reliable confirmation that such an incident had really happened and that Prabhakaran had referred to me that way openly. This knowledge that the last task entrusted to me was to look after these people has strengthened my resolve in this respect.
This is why I am motivated and I formed the North-East Rehabilitation and Development Organization(NERDO). It was formally registered on July 6th 2010. We have also been given security clearance to move about the north and east and have access to resettled IDP’s and rehabilitees.
Q: Before we talk about NERDO, it does seem to me that you have got recognition as an NGO in a very short time. The NERDO has also got security clearance and access. This would not have been possible but for support at high levels. Was it with the blessings of the Defence secretary that NERDO got this approval and access?
A: Yes. We went through all the formalities and procedures and applied. But I don’t think we would have got such quick approval without the backing of the Defence secretary.
Q: If I may return to an earlier aspect. It does seem crystal clear that you are able to enjoy some freedom of action despite being a detenue only because of the special relationship you have with Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakse.As you told me earlier there was no “deal” of any kind and that your meeting point is the mutual desire to achieve certain related pro-people goals. Could you explain the circumstances under which this rapport evolved and continues to evolve?
A: Well I have already told you about how I was caught in Malaysia and brought to Colombo and how I met him for the first time. Thereafter at a subsequent meeting –the third one I believe- Mr. Gotabhaya asked me pointed questions about what I felt about the whole situation and what I wanted to do in the future.
I then told him very clearly that the war was over for me and that I fully realised that reviving an armed struggle for Eelam was out of the question. I told him that I feel very guilty about the plight of our people and that if given a chance I would like to help them in some small way at least as some form of penance.
Then the defence secretary said that he too wanted to ensure the speedy release and resettlement of IDP’s and rehabilitation of ex-tiger cadres. He said he required some reliable people to help expedite matters in this regard. He asked me whether I would like to help him in this process .I said yes.
Some days later the military intelligence chief Gen.Kapila Hendavitharane informed me that my request had been discussed in detail by him and the defence secretary and that a favourable decision was reached. Thereafter I was given some autonomy of action to participate in the process.
Q: You were a Consultant?
A: Nothing formal or official like that but yes I was consulted on some related matters. I was also allowed to interact with the cadres under detention and also people in the north
Q: In person?
A: No not directly only by telephone first. Then I was able to get delegations of parents of detenues from the North down to Colombo and meet them. It was at such a meeting that parents lamented about the situation of Jaffna university undergraduates being held under detention.
At that point I asked one of the officials present whether he could request the defence secretary to look into the matter and take positive action. This was done and I am happy to say the defence secretary immediately agreed in principle to release. Thereafter it was done in batches. Today no undergrad is in detention. Like that the rehabilitees are being released in batches according to specific categories
Q: What I understand from this is that you had no official position but you had a sort of unofficial special role assigned to you. Because of that you were able to associate and play a positive role in these matters?
A: Yes. This was before I formed the NERDO. Now I represent NERDO in matters of this type.
Q: So the government was basically in charge and took policy decisions and implemented them but you were able to play a supplementary role in an advisory capacity?
A: Exactly. It was the government that handled it. Matters concerning the ex-tiger cadre rehabilitees for instance came under the Bureau of the Commissioner –General of Rehabilitation. On that matter I must emphasise that the govt has appointed an appropriate person as commissioner-general. Brigadier Sudantha Ranasinghe is the ideal man for the job. He has lots of commitment and care for the welfare of the inmates at Protective Accommodation and Rehabilitation Centres (PARC).
Q: So what did you do or what do you do in these matters?
A: Whenever I am asked for an idea or suggestion I submit proposals. Some have been accepted. I give my opinion when asked about some scheme being planned. When a problem or reasonable request is brought to my notice I get in touch with officers concerned directly or indirectly and convey it to them. I also take the initiative and submit proposals
I must say that almost all officers and officials involved in these matters are sincere persons with lots of sympathy for the plight of these unfortunate people. So they are most receptive to ideas or suggestions and getting things done is no big problem at all.
WE also help out with some projects implemented by the government. This is done more through NERDO
Q: But why is there such slow progress in releasing and rehabilitating? Why can’t it be done faster?
A: From what I see there is a genuine intention on the part of the government to resolve this issue efficiently and speedily. They have identified two wide categories. One is the hard core consisting of those suspected of being involved in some violence, some with years of experience in the LTTE and those who have taken the black tiger or suicide action oath. There are about 1400 in this category. Most of these people will be charged in courts.
Then there are the others or soft category. They are those with very little LTTE experience or recent conscripts or people involved in LTTE administration functions like the police or banks. These were numbering more than 11,000 but now are reduced to about 7- 8,000 because of regular releases.
The Govt is spending Rs 400 per day in looking after each of these persons. The govt will definitely like to release them soon and save the money being spent on them but for practical problems. As I said earlier the govt’s fear is that the released ex-cadres may be exploited by interested parties and encouraged to engage in violence again.
One way of preventing such a possibility is to ensure that no rehabilitee will be idle or unemployed. That is why there are training and vocational skills programs for them. Those who get such training are being released in batches. The govt thinks such people will get gainful employment in Sri Lanka or abroad. This is why there is slow progress.
Q: Still why cannot a time bound deadline be set for the release ?
A: Because of the problems I mentioned. But I must say that the Defence secretary recently stated that he hopes everybody in the “soft” category would be released within six to nine months. I think every effort will be made to meet this deadline
But I want to tell those in the Diaspora one thing about this issue. Instead of criticising the Tamil Diaspora must help financially and even invest. If they help financially to provide training and jobs for these rehabilitees then they can be released faster. Instead of simply criticising why dont members of the Tamil Diaspora help financially and ensure speedy releases if they are really concerned? From my experience I can strongly say that the Defence secretary wants to release these people as soon as possible. Why not try and help instead of simply blaming him?
Q: On that note let me ask you about the defence secretary and yourself.How often do you interact with him?
A: It’s like this.If I want to inform him of something I convey it through the officer who was assigned to liaise between us both. Likewise he does so too. Apart from this we have also met directly on some occasions to discuss issues relating to the IDP’s and rehabilitees. In recent times after we established NERDO the defence secretary takes a keen interest in that and checks on our progress every week. I am also able to contact officers under him if necessary
Q: Let us talk about the topic close to your heart now. Tell me about NERDO and how it came into being and what you hope to do through NERDO?
A: When we were discussing issues concerning the ex-tiger cadres and IDP’s in the Wanni I felt that a non –governmental, social service organization was necessary to address these issues . It could work independently of the government but associate with the overall efforts of the govt in this respect. I found the govt officials receptive to this idea
So we started making preparations but things did not start to move in a big way. One of the problems was adequate funding. Then came the week long trip by some Tamil expatriates in June this year….
Q: I am sorry to interject but how did that trip take place?
A: Well the idea was for some Tamil expatriates to visit Sri Lanka and see for themselves the actual situation. Originally we wanted the visit to coincide with the Mullivaaikkal battle anniversary in May. But due to some problems and the floods we had to put it off for June
In the first place we hoped to get more than 20 visitors. We arranged for 22 to visit. But later officials in Colombo felt a smaller number would be better due to logistical reasons. So it was whittled down to 12. But due to some last minute problems only 09 could come….
Q: Oh ! so tha’’s how it happened. Please go on about the NERDO?
A: Well the visit of the expatriates was a boost to our plans. The visitors had first hand experience of the situation and except for one person, all understood the realities. They appreciated the need for NERDO. Some donated funds .Though not huge the sum was enough to get things moving. The govt too was happy about the visit and acknowledged the fact that NERDO could be made a success.
So the paperwork was done quickly and thanks to Mr. Gota bhaya’s support we got NERDO registered on July 6th. The chairman is Mr. S.Thavaratnam the president of the Northern Fishermen’s Society Federation. I am the NERDO secretary.
Q: Why dont you give more details about NERDO? Address, telephones, bank accts etc?
A: Well our office is in Vavuniya. Our address is 10, 1st lane, Kathiresu Road, Vairavaputhiyankulam, Vavuniya.
Our telephone numbers are:
Tel.: +94 24 492 5438
Mob. : +94 75899 8034
Mob.: +94 77937 6919
Fax.: +94 24 222 1730.
Our E-mail is: email@example.com.
Our website is www.nerdo.lk
We have two bank accounts.
The official name is North–East Rehabilitation & Development organization.
In Colombo we have one acct at HSBC. The acct number is 012-160354-001.The code is HSBCLKLX.
In Vavuniya we have one at the Commercial Bank. The account number is 1610046482. The code is CCEYLKLX.
Q: Could you tell me more about the structure and function of NERDO?
A: Well we have just started and our resources at present are rather limited. We would really love donations from concerned people. Some funds are beginning to trickle in now.
Our office at Vavuniya is a modest one. We cant afford a big building or large staff. We have two officers there. One is from Jaffna and the other from the Up-country.
One handles the office work and the other is a field officer. They are paid salaries.We have also an internally displaced girl from the Wanni volunteering as a typist. She is paid an allowance.
We also have some volunteers helping out on a part –time basis without remuneration. Most of these persons are known to me personally like those from my village Myliddy or old classmates from Nadeswara college in Kanesanthurai and Mahajana College in Thellippalai. Some are fellow undergraduates from the Jaffna university.
Some of these persons are now school principals or government officers or bank employees. What is remarkable about this is that I did not maintain any contact with them after I went abroad in 1981. Since I was active in the LTTE and all these people were in Sri Lanka I avoided contact with them for their own safety.
Now they are all rallying around me and trying to do some service to the affected people. There are about 25 -30 people in this group. It will increase gradually I hope because we need efficient volunteers.
Q: What has NERDO done so far and what are your future plans?
A: Our first month progress is rather modest. NERDO gave Rs. 15,000 each to two schools in Kilinochchi to print question papers for term tests. They are the Vattakachchi Maha Vidyalayam and Ramanathapuram west Govt Tamil mixed school. There was also a disabled youth K.Puvaneswaran who was given 5,000 Rs to help him travel to sit for the GCE (AL) exams.
Apart from this NERDO also arranged for buns and tea to be given daily for a period of 28 days to 358 rehabilitees studying and sitting for the GCE AL exam and 119 rehabilitees studying for the GCE OL exam. The cost of supplying these buns and tea for 477 students and some teachers and officials was 450,000 Rupees. NERDO has paid up in full.
Q: But some media organs run by Diaspora Tamils are criticizing NERDO for this and saying that there was no need for you to do these and that the govt should have done it?
A: That is what these people will say but the reality is different on ground. Unlike these sections of the Diaspora we are not attacking the govt or pinpointing alleged faults. Unlike the Diaspora those of us working at ground level are in a partnership with the govt.
It is not an “us and them” thing with the govt. It is a case of “We” where the govt and we must do the best we can unitedly to help our people. The govt is also short of funds in some matters. Are we we to then blame the govt, sit back and do nothing about helping our people?
The people in the Diaspora who say things like this must understand that the govt could very well have forbidden the rehabilitees from sitting for the AL exam citing security concerns. They did not do so and despite the difficulties arranged for them to sit for exams and supplied food and provided transport and personnel.
An Australia based Tamil NGO helped with study materials and supplementary teacher expenses and stationery etc. We helped to make arrangements on ground for this. Then we at NERDO helped to provide buns and tea.
So it was a joint effort by three parties the govt, the Aussie NGO and NERDO to help our students sitting for the exam. The govt bore the major share of expenses and effort in this. The Diaspora must stop these stupid attacks.
Q: What are the future projects and plans for NERDO?
A: Oh! We have lots of ideas and are working towards implementation. We are planning to open two more offices in Kilinochchi town and Mullaitheevu town to cater to the needs of re-settled people in those districts
Some specific projects being planned is the setting up of an abode or home called “Anbu Illam” (Abode of Love) in Vavuniya on the Mannar road. We intend providing a haven for children orphaned by the war, persons who have lost limbs or eyesight due to war and very old people without anyone to look after them.
Already a Tamil Catholic nun from Colombo is running a shelter of this type for 40 people.Sinhala catholic nuns visit regularly in groups to help her. We are planning to tie up with this sister and expand her efforts with NERDO’s help by establishing “Anbu Illam”.
Another project is to set up a model farm in about 200 acres where we can teach and practice scientific agricultural methods for the ex-LTTE rehabilitees and even some of the IDP’s. Again I must say this proposal was a brainchild of the Defence secretary. We are in the process of selecting an appropriate area to set up this model farm in Vavuniya or Kilinochchi district
We have also identified a village about 25 miles away from Vavuniya town with a very high figure of those without limbs and widows and elderly destitutes. We are planning to transform this into a model village providing employment and care as a community project
Another project is to set up an ambulance service. A benefactor from London has agreed to finance one vehicle and we hope to station it in Kilinochchi
Q: Apart from these specific projects do you have ideas of implementing comprehensive development master plans on a wider basis?
A: Yes we have. A Tamil academic from Australia has prepared an intergrated development plan to revive and resurrect our fisheries sector. I think the fisheries sector has been drastically affected in the north and east due to the war.
On the basis of that plan NERDO has devised a short term project called coastal fisheries rehabilitation program costing 605 million rupees. This comprises refurbishing existing fishing vessels and providing fishing gear like nets .If implemented properly this will provide full employment to around 3300 fisher families.
There are also studies underway to revive the agriculture and dairy and livestock sectors. One academic is already engaged in estimating and devising a master plan for agriculture. Another academic will arrive shortly to formulate a dairy and livestock development plan.
Another project we hope to set up is a Training Institute to provide technical and vocational skill education. Initially we hope to conduct short term courses and certificates for the ex-tiger cadre rehabilitees. These courses would cover a number of fields from motor mechanism to plumbing ,from electronics to landscape designing etc.
We also hope to create facilities for those obtaining these short term certificates to find employment and also pursue higher studies if necessary. Ultimately we hope to develop this into a full fledged Technical college or polytechnic.
Another idea is to stage a series of cultural shows in Various parts of the Country. The performers will be those ex-LTTE cadres being rehabilitated.
The well-known Sinhala film star Anoja Weerasinghe is conducting a drama workshop for sixty rehabilitees. I am very impressed by her dedication. One of our well known singers Shanthan is also a detenue with his two sons. We are planning to pool their efforts to stage concerts in a bid to create a positive image about ex-tiger cadres and also spread the message of peace and goodwill.
Q: Where does the government fit into in these matters?
A: As I told you we will be working independently but in partnership with the government. The situation today is that no one can function in the north and east or any part of Sri Lanka without Government support or approval. In the north and east we also need the full cooperation of the armed forces. This being the reality we must work in harmony with the govt while retaining our independence.
The govt is quite comfortable with the NERDO and will lend assistance and grant access. For example the govt will provide lands for s to set up projects like a model farm. NERDO hopes to link up with Govt plans like the “Vadakkin Vasantham” (northern spring) and “Kizhakin Uthayam” (Eastern awakening) wherever possible and get assistance.
Q: Your plans are impressive but do you have the resources to implement them?
A: No, not yet but we are in an embryonic stage.
In the first place we must also be realistic enough to recognize that our people have gone back decades and decades in development. For instance our Railway line is not there in the north.
Our community was proud of our educational tradition. Today our schools are destroyed and students are squatting under trees for classes. A large number of children are not attending school due to poverty and lack of uniforms, footwear and text books. We are commissioning a survey of this situation.
But as our plans unfold and people get the message we hope to get lots of help and aid from our fellow Tamils from abroad. Already some qualified expatriates have agreed to come over and provide their academic and professional expertise on a voluntary basis. A few have promised financial assistance for special projects. I am confident that NERDO will gradually perform well with the help of our people.
Q: The problem is that a vociferous section of the Tamil Diaspora with great access to the media is conducting a vicious campaign against you and NERDO. They accuse you of being a govt stooge and that NERDO is a ruse to attract Tamil expatriate money from abroad and siphon it off to govt coffers. In such a hostile climate how do you hope to succeed?
A: Yes. You are right about the current climate but this will be a temporary situation I think. For one thing these sections unleashing a negative campaign are a minority but as you said they have a near monopoly on Tamil media abroad and therefore have an impact exceeding their actual strength. But still they are a minority and their campaign is based on lies and falsehood
What I am confident about and relying on is “sathiyam” (Truth).
Firstly we hope to publish all details about our projects and expenses and accounts of money received and spent on our website in addition to providing receipts. We will also answer all genuine queries. As more and more people see that we are open and transparent about these things the false propaganda wont be able to sustain itself.
Secondly we are also optimistic that the recipients of our aid and assistance will inform their friends and relatives abroad of the actual situation. When these people provide factual details about our genuine efforts those spreading false information will be exposed.
Thirdly we will encourage Diaspora members to visit Sri Lanka and see the situation themselves. We are ready to help them see things first-hand and arrive at their own conclusions. We have nothing to hide. NERDO is prepared to even assist people to travel to the north and east if they contact us. We are even thinking of stationing a NERDO representative at the Katunayake airport if necessary.
So gradually the truth will triumph and NERDO will succeed.
Q: I can see that you are an optimist. I saw a video clip of your meeting with some rehabilitees where you say “Nambikkai Thaan Vaalkkai” (Hope is life). I understand your mindset but do you think you can succeed against such formidable odds?
A: When I was given the task of overseas procurement (arms acquisition) by Prabhakaran in 1983 I was an utter novice. I came from a very common background. My father was politically conscious but was an ordinary fisherman.I did not study in elite schools. My English knowledge was weak. I had never travelled outside Sri Lanka and India. The LTTE was a fledgeling organization without any important contacts in the arms trade.
Yet I developed my department slowly and steadily. I expanded the LTTE’s power to a stage where we were acquiring arms from diverse sources on a worldwide basis and shipping them regularly to the north-east. As long as I was in charge of overseas purchasing the LTTE was able to prolong the war successfully because I was able to procure arms continuously
If I could succeed then in a task which caused death and destruction why cant I succeed in this new task where my objective is to help people and re-build lives instead of destroying people and lives as in the past?
Q: I don’t want to sound discouraging. I also do not dispute your ability and talent but the biggest difference here is that you are in custody and not a free man. Unlike earlier times you cannot move about freely to do things. Also you are older now and not in good health. Besides there is a fanatical lobby actively working against you. That is why I am doubtful.
A: You have a point but I do feel I will succeed. Yes it is frustrating to be detained and having to do attend to things by telephone, fax, skype and internet instead of being able to go to the places directly. I know that if I am on the spot I can get things done faster and better but then I have to face reality. I think to myself I may be under detention but at least I have this opportunity to do some thing worthwhile for people.
Let me tell you one thing from the bottom of my heart. This is my third big task and opportunity. The first task was when I was appointed by Prabhakaran to procure arms. I succeeded in that. The second task was when I re-joined the movement to bring about a ceasefire and save the leadership and movement. I failed in that task
Now this is my third big task. In this my mission and vision is to help people. I am neither trying to arm a movement or trying to save it. This time I am engaged in a noble, worthy task of helping people to re-build lives. So I will definitely succeed.
Q: Why not make a request that you be released so that you can engage without any restraints or constraints in your mission to help people?
A: I will not make such a request now due to two reasons. One is that I don’t want to be a free man when thousands of ex-LTTE cadres are not free yet. When the situation improves and the greater part of ex-cadres are released or brought to courts then I too can think of being free.
The other is that it may cause the govt some embarrassment to do so. Already the govt particularly the defence secretary is being criticized severely by the opposition on account of me. I don’t want to make it more complicated. I think the President who is the defence minister will take a policy decision in consultation with the defence secretary about the LTTE on the whole at the appropriate time. I don’t know what my fate will be. Until then I will do what I can under these circumstances
One positive thing is that a team of dedicated persons are slowly gathering around NERDO. So even if my mobility is restricted this team will work actively. But I have asked that I be re-located to Vavuniya if possible
Q: Some people say the govt is simply using you and will discard you later. What do you think?
A: I work in hope and trust and faith. I don’t think that will happen. But for argument’s sake let’s say it happens. Even then I would have succeeded in helping some people at least as I am doing now. That’s enough for me.
Q: On the other hand I know many Tamil politicians are worried about your entering politics. Any such idea?
A: No. I don’t want to enter politics even if possible. Let those elected by the Tamils do politics. All that I want to do is to look after the welfare of ex –tiger cadre rehabilitees and IDP’s. What our people need now are not politicians but humanitarians
Q: Will NERDO work for all the people of the North and East?
A: That is my long term goal but for now we will focus on the ex-LTTE cadres and IDP’s.
Thambiaiya Selvarasa Pathmanathan
Q: We have spoken for a long time. There are so many things to talk about. Maybe we can talk on another occasion. But before we conclude do you have any special message to Sri Lankans in general and the Tamil people in particular?
A: Thank you for conducting this conversation by telephone from far off Canada. We must do this again soon where I would be able to tell you of how much NERDO has achieved.
Yes I have two messages. The first is to my fellow Tamils. This is what I say. The war is over. Prabhakaran and other senior commanders are no more. Tamil Eelam is a lost cause. Please dont be deceived by irresponsible people into thinking that the armed struggle is not over. Please give up the confrontational attitude and help our broken people to re-build their lives. I appeal to members of the Tamil Diaspra and Tamil Nadu politicians to refrain from idle rhetoric and instead help Tamils in Sri Lanka to live in harmony and prosperity with others. We need reconciliation and co-operation not confrontation and friction
The second is to all my fellow Sri Lankans. We of the LTTE and other militant groups commenced an armed struggle to win back our lost rights. We thought Tamil Eelam was the answer and that the end will justify the means. In the course of our armed struggle we have caused much harm and misery to the people of Sri Lanka. We have violated all norms of civilized conduct at times. When I reflect on the past I am appalled by what has happened. As a senior leader or ex –leader of the LTTE I sincerely beg the forgiveness of all Sri Lankans for this. Please pardon us and help us to forge a bright future for all Sri Lankans.
Q: Thank you for this conversation. I wish you well in your well-meaning efforts. I also wish you success in your personal journey of redemption. I hope and pray you will reach your destination
A: Thank you again for this interview and your wishes. “Hope is life”.
DBS JEYARAJ ADDS:
There were two errors in the third part of this interview published last week.
The first error was about the cost of the abortive plan to rescue LTTE leader Prabhakaran’s family by helicopter. The estimated cost was stated erroneously as 1.5 million US dollars. The actual estimated cost was 3.5 million US dollars.
The second mistake was over a reference to a Tamil Nadu politician named Mahendran who was communicating with former LTTE political commissar Nadesan. The Mahendran referred to was C. Mahendran the Tamil Nadu state deputy –secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI). It was stated wrongly that the Mahendran in question was K. Mahendran the Tamil Nadu Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M)
Both errors are regretted.