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News Features


 

Peace within TMVP
KARUNA AND PILLAIYAN BURY THE HATCHET

The TMVP will also revise its current political stance. It would call for the Northern and Eastern Provinces to be recognised as the ‘thayagam’ (homeland) of the Tamil-speaking people. It would also emphasise that reconstruction and development be given urgent priority in the Eastern Province.

The internecine warfare plaguing the Tamil Makkal Viduthalaiy Puligal(TMVP) in the east may have come to an end at last! An uneasy rapprochement seems to have been effected, according to knowledgeable sources.
TMVP Supremo Karuna and Military Chief Pillaiyan have apparently buried the hatchet and reconciliatory moves are in progress.
Karuna remains the TMVP Leader and Pillaiyan has been designated as Deputy Leader. Pillaiyan will be in overall charge of operations and administration.

Regional commanders
The various regional commanders will continue to be in charge of their respective spheres of authority. Pillaiyan, who was based until recently in Trincomalee, will now base himself in Batticaloa town and move around all parts of the east.
Iniyabharathi will be in charge of Ampara District and base himself at Thambiluvil; Veera, based in Kaluwanchikudi, will be in charge of littoral areas from Kalmunai to Aaraiyampathy; Sinnathamby, based in Chenkallady, will administer areas from Thandavanveli to Kiran and also the Karadiyanaaru area; Riyaseelan based in Vakarai will be in charge of areas from Kiran to Verugal.

Mangalan Master will be responsible for Welikanda, Kudumbimalai/Toppigala and interior Paduvaankarai areas; Markan will be in charge of Trincomalee District.
Pillaiyan will be in charge of Batticaloa town and suburbs and areas adjacent to the lagoon in the western hinterland. In addition he will coordinate TMVP administration in all parts of the east and also plan operations.

The TMVP reconciliation was made possible through efforts by concerned persons and groups abroad, it is learnt. A series of telephone conversations, between Karuna in London and Pillaiyan in Trincomalee/Batticaloa, resulted in both burying the hatchet.
It was agreed then that Karuna would base himself in Colombo and undertake periodic visits to the east while Pillaiyan would remain on ground in the east. The detention of Karuna in Britain has caused some uneasiness within the rank and file but seniors are of the opinion that unity within the TMVP is the need of the hour.

Pre-planned move
According to informed sources, the decision for Pillaiyan to move to Batticaloa had been taken prior to Karuna’s arrest. The move was fully approved by Karuna. But the timing had gone awry due to the unexpected arrest of the TMVP Leader in London.
Pillaiyan’s pre-planned re-location to Batticaloa had come in the wake of Karuna’s detention.
Against that backdrop, some of Karuna’s loyalists had resented the Pillaiyan takeover despite Karuna’s endorsement. Therefore, the new ‘administrative changes’ aroused controversy and caused a certain amount of strife.
This resulted in a misunderstanding where Thileepan, the Political Commissar based in Batticaloa, had consumed cyanide and died. The grenade incident where Sinnathamby was injured in Eravoor is also attributed to internecine TMVP conflict.
The ‘independent’ Mangalan Master who rebelled earlier has also accepted the new restructuring of the TMVP now, it is said.
A central committee of 27 people will be the premier decision making body in the TMVP. All regional commanders will be members of this, along with others.

Political party
Karuna and Pillaiyan have also decided to concentrate on forming a political party. A new political party will be registered in due course with the Elections Commissioner. Though not finalised yet, sources said that Thamil Makkal Suthanthirak Katchi (Tamil People’s Freedom Party) was likely to be the name of the party.
While the TMVP will be the chief organisation, the party will be its political front. The LTTE registered the Liberation Tigers Political Front as political party; PLOTE registered Democratic People’s Liberation Front as its party. Eelam Democratic Front was the EROS political party. Now the TMVP is following suit.
The TMVP will also revise its current political stance. It would call for the Northern and Eastern Provinces to be recognised as the ‘thayagam’ (homeland) of the Tamil-speaking people. It would also emphasise that reconstruction and development be given urgent priority in the Eastern Province.
The new unity and restructuring has resulted in a few ‘casualties’ too. The husband and wife duo of Mahesh and Padmini who were based in Colombo have called it quits and gone abroad with their family.
Padmini is the daughter of Rajan Sathiyamoorthy, the TNA candidate and Karuna loyalist killed by the Tigers. Mahesh is the son of Sathiyamoorthy’s brother-in-law, who was also killed in the same incident.

Casualties
The Padmini-Mahesh duo was the political face of the TMVP and interacted with different circles in Colombo. It is said that the TMVP Leader had intended rewarding Padmini with a top political post as a token of gratitude for services rendered by her father, who paid the supreme price for his closeness towards Karuna.
Azad Moulana will be spokesperson. Rudra alias Thooyavan, the former spokesperson, may be made political chief in place of Thileeban, who bit the cyanide capsule. Thileeban had left Paris and returned to Batticaloa last year.
The buoyant mood within the TMVP as a result of the Karuna-Pillaiyan rapprochement has dampened to some extent after Karuna’s arrest in London. If Karuna gets stuck in Britain, Pillaiyan will be acting leader. This may not be to the liking of other seniors like Mangalan Master, Iniyabharathi and Sinnathamby.
Another unknown factor is the attitude and approach of the different intelligence operatives handling the TMVP. The divisions within the TMVP were widened and sharpened by these elements in a re-play of colonial ‘divide and rule’ tactics. Their response will determine the future of unity within the TMVP.

The ‘child’ soldiers at the funeral
Some media reports are waxing eloquent about child soldiers being visible in LTTE pictures of S.P. Tamilselvan’s funeral. They point to a small girl and an even smaller boy in LTTE military fatigues as proof. Unfortunately these eagle-eyes crying “gotcha” are in for a disappointment.
The girl in uniform is Tamilselvan’s eight-year-old daughter Alaimagal. The boy is the four-year-old son, Oliventhan. Even Tamilselvan’s wife Sasirekha alias Isaichelvi was in LTTE uniform at the funeral.

Scowling Nadesan succeeds smiling Thamilselvan as commissar
‘Brigadier’ Thamilselvan of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was known as the ‘smiling’ face of the Tigers. His successor P. Nadesan may very well become the ‘scowling’ face of the LTTE.
Although Thamilselvan could not wipe that perpetual, insincere grin off his face, the new Political Commissar is eternally seen with a grimace.
Nadesan, the man in charge of the Tiger Police known as ‘Kaaval Thurai’ was also made Political Wing Chief by Tiger Supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran within 24 hours of Thamilselvan’s death.
Nadesan, like Prabhakaran, is a native of Valvettithurai and a distant relative of the LTTE Leader. Nadesan cut his teeth as Political Commissar on November 8 when he met Monitoring Mission Head Major General Lars Johann Solvberg for a 75-minute pow-wow at Kilinochchi.

To the point
Nadesan conducted a press conference after the meeting. I listened to it over a Tamil radio. Unlike Thamilselvan, who was garrulously verbose, Nadesan’s answers were terse and to the point.
Of course, LTTE press conferences in Kilinochchi are not media scrums but Nadesan’s replies were crisply incisive. I was impressed.
The bespectacled Police Chief cum Political Commissar is in his mid-50s. Nadesan is his nom de guerre. His real name is Balasingham Mahendran.
Nadesan’s father Balasingham was a dyed in the wool Trotskyite known generally as ‘Comrade Balasingham.’ The senior clerk was made a staff officer at the CTB when LSSP stalwart Anil Moonesinghe was chairman.
One brother of Nadesan’s father – Panchalingam – was Senior Vice-Principal of St. John’s College, Jaffna. Another paternal uncle, Sevatkodiyon, was a pedagogue too. Ganeshan, another uncle was a postmaster while an aunt was a Senior Bank Executive at Nelliaddy.
Nadesan lived for some years in Colombo in Havelock Town. During this time he used to go for rugby practice at Havelocks.

Background
Being an old boy of Chidambara College in VVT, he had not played rugby before as the sport does not flourish in Jaffna. Some old friends of his say Nadesan played for Havies ‘Bambaras’ and later Police ‘Griffins,’ but I cannot vouch for this.
Nadesan’s younger brother who studied at Isipathana MMV for a while was a first batch recruit of the LTTE. His nom de guerre was Lucas and he is living abroad now.
After seeing the world as seaman aboard merchant vessels, Balasingham Mahendran returned to Lanka and joined the police force as a constable. He later became sergeant, I think.
Nadesan was a few years older than Prabhakaran but associated with ‘Thambi’ at VVT and while in the police force. He was serving in Jaffna when the LTTE attacked the Jaffna police station in April 1985 during Margaret Thatcher’s visit. Sathasivampillai Krishna Kumar alias Kittu was the LTTE commander for Jaffna then.
Nadesan apparently drew up a diagram of the premises that helped the LTTE greatly in planning and executing the attack. Tiger cadres crawled through drainage canals and drains to surprise the police. Having prior knowledge of the attack, Nadesan and his policewoman wife kept away from work on D-day.

Police station attack
Their absence aroused suspicion so the LTTE clandestinely took them across to India by boat. Nadesan began working at the LTTE political office in Chennai.
Nadesan’s wife is a Sinhala woman from Morawaka in the Matara District. She too has a left background as her family members were long standing supporters of Communist Party Leader and former Akuressa MP Dr. S.A. Wickremasinghe. She now lives in the Wanni with Nadesan.
Nadesan returned to Jaffna in 1987 and worked in the political office. But during the Indian Army period, Nadesan also took up arms and fought. He was injured badly in a battle and thought dead by the LTTE.
The IPKF took the wounded Nadesan to India and treated him. After recovery, he was detained at Kankesanthurai.
When the LTTE started a fledgling police force, Nadesan was placed in charge. He was jokingly referred to as the IGP of Tamil Eelam. Nadesan emulated various international police force models and developed his own one. A visiting Amnesty delegation was highly impressed by its efficiency and discipline.

Trusted confidant
Nadesan speaks Tamil, English and Sinhala. He is a trusted confidant of Prabhakaran. This is the primary qualification to be political commissar of the LTTE.
Nadesan being appointed political commissar was hardly a surprise to seasoned observers of the LTTE. He had been slowly groomed for this role by Prabhakaran. The past years have seen Nadesan participating in many political meetings with visiting dignitaries in Kilinochchi.
He was also part of LTTE delegations going abroad for talks. Once he left Switzerland suddenly and returned home after serious disagreement with Thamilselvan.
There has been speculation in sections of the media about people like Pulidevan, Thangan, Daya Master, etc., being overlooked as candidates for the post of political wing chief and Nadesan being given a dual role
The reason is simple. Seniority, experience or ability was not the criteria, though Nadesan is certainly a veteran. The chief criterion was that of enjoying the trust of Prabakharan.

The return of ‘Col.’ Paduman
An interesting feature of S.P. Tamilselvan’s funeral was the turnout of almost all the senior LTTE commanders. Disregarding concerns about safety, most of them attended the funeral and participated in the procession. Pottu, Soosai, Bhanu, Balraj, Sornam, Theepan, Jeyam, etc., were all present. The surprise was ‘Colonel’ Paduman, the former Trincomalee Commander who fell out of favour with big boss.
Paduman, like Karuna, was asked to come to the Wanni aboard a SLAF helicopter in March 2004. While Karuna smelt a rat and refused, the trusting Paduman obeyed. He was placed under house arrest after a stage-managed press conference.
Paduman went off the radar and Sornam became Trincomalee commander. Rumours spread that Paduman was no more. Now Paduman is back in full uniform and was seen mingling on par with those of ‘Col.’ rank. It appears that Paduman who was aide de camp to Prabakharan for many years has done his penance and is now rehabilitated.

The giant bomb that killed the Peace Dove in Thiruvaiyaru
“The Sinhala nation did not open its heart and send a peace message. On the contrary, it is sending war vultures that are dropping giant bombs. It has cruelly killed our Peace Dove.”
The above sentences are excerpted from Velupillai Prabhakaran’s statement released after S.P. Tamilselvan’s death. The LTTE Leader’s statement was unusually emotional and had an agitated tone to it.
Suppiah Paramu Thamilchelvan, the 40-year-old Political Wing Head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was killed in an air raid along with five other Tiger cadres on Friday, November 2.
Two jet bombers, an Israeli K-fir and a Russian built MiG-27 engaged in aerial bombardment at first light between 5:55 to 6 a.m. The target area was suburban Thiruvaiyaru, about three kilometres from Kilinochchi town in the Wanni region controlled by the Tigers.

Last official duties
Thamilselvan, functioning since 1994 as the LTTE’s Political Commissar, had been assigned additional quasi-military duties recently. He was placed in charge of defences at Pooneryn as he was familiar with the area.
Thamilselvan had been at Pooneryn for three days at a stretch from October 29 to November 1. He returned to Kilinochchi town on the afternoon of November 1.
Kilinochchi is the place where the LTTE’s Political Headquarters, Peace Secretariat and Strategic Communications Unit are located.
Thamilselvan’s last official duties were at the Communications Unit, from where he contacted several persons in Sri Lanka and abroad. Some well-wishers brought specially cooked food, including mutton curry.
The Political Commissar and others stayed late into the night at the place, partaking of food and engaging in conversation.

Attack
Thereafter, at about 2:30 a.m., the six Tigers moved to a safe bunker located in the interior of Thiruvaiyaaru. Given the prevailing security situation, important Tiger leaders sleep at night in well-fortified bunkers away from their homes. They also avoid sleeping at the same place on successive nights.
The L-shaped bunker was well camouflaged. It had a lower and upper compartments. Tamilselvan went to bed in the lower one while the others slept in the upper one.
In the early hours of the morning, around 4 to 4:30 a.m., an IAI ‘Scout’ Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) spy plane had hovered over the skies of Kilinochchi. Later the two jet bombers came at first light and discharged their lethal cargo.
Subsequently three other planes (two MiGs and one K-fir) also dropped nine bombs from 6:20 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. in the south of Kilinochchi in the area around the 155th Milepost and St. Anthony’s Church. Two civilians were killed and six injured.
The first aerial mission had been bull’s-eye on target when a bomb fell on the entrance of the bunker. There was a massive explosion and the entire structure collapsed and caved in. The six Tigers were killed in their sleep.

Immense destruction
Among top Tiger leaders to reach the spot early were Intelligence Chief Pottu Amman and LTTE Sports Division Head, Pappa. The destruction was so immense that a bulldozer was brought first to facilitate excavation. Thereafter the bodies were dug up manually.
Most LTTE bunkers are strong and designed to withstand aerial bombardment. What troubles the LTTE now is the thought that a giant bomb knocked out Tamilselvan’s bunker. A similar bomb could hit Prabhakaran’s or Pottu Amman’s bunker too.
What is the bomb which Prabakharan refers to as ‘ratchathakkundu’ or giant bomb? According to some reports in the LTTE media, it was an American general purpose bomb called Mark 84 or MK 84.The largest of the Mark-80 series of weapons, it is nicknamed
‘Hammer’ due to its considerable power.

The ‘Hammer’
The Mark 84 has a nominal weight of 2,000 lb (908 kg), but its actual weight varies depending on its fin, fuse, and retardation configuration, from 1,972 lb (896 kg) to 2,083 (947 kg). It has a streamlined steel casing filled with 945 lb (429 kg) of Tritonal high explosive.
The Mark 84 is capable of forming a crater 50 ft (15.2 m) wide and 36 ft (11 m) deep. It can penetrate up to 15 inches (380 mm) of metal or 11 feet (3.3 m) of concrete, depending on the height from which it is dropped, and causes lethal fragmentation to a radius of 400 yards (366 m). This free-fall general purpose bomb’s length is 10 feet, nine inches (3.3 m) and its diameter is 18 inches (457 mm).
Whatever the merits or otherwise of the giant bomb and the credentials of the so-called Peace Dove, a ‘conflict’ is visible in the manner both sides are treating the incident. There are contradictions too.
Propaganda
The government boasts on the one hand of carefully selecting the target and destroying it. If this is true, Colombo is prone to charges of deliberately killing the LTTE’s Political Commissar. This affects government credibility internationally.
The LTTE is whipping up sympathy among Tamils by accusing the government of deliberately killing Thamilselvan. This, however, demoralises supporters and cadres because the LTTE leadership is perceived as vulnerable.
Despite the propaganda it appears that Tamilselvan was not an ‘intentional’ victim . He and his comrades happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
(D.B.S. Jeyaraj can be reached at djeyaraj@federalidea.com)

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