Friday, May 11, 2007

Sri Lanka’s Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol

The British Refugee Council Sri Lanka monitor reported in April 2003:

"LTTE negotiator Anton Balasingham claimed in a speech on 7 April in Geneva that the Sri Lankan government’s Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) had infiltrated the Tiger-controlled areas of the northern Vanni region.
Mr Balasingham says that a claymore remote-controlled mine was recently found on a road on which LTTE leader V Prabhakaran was scheduled to travel. A search operation was ordered and thousands of Tigers combed the jungles of Vanni to apprehend LRRP members.

The LRRP is part of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), directed from a secret location in Athurugiriya. According to Colombo newspaper Sunday Times, this safehouse was raided on 2 January by Kandy police, who found weapons and arrested six soldiers. Unauthorized operations were alleged, and police filed a case against Army chief Lionel Balagalle and Director of DMI Kapila Hendavithana. A Commission headed by former High Court judge Dharmasiri Jayawickrema is probing DMI operations conducted from the safehouse in Athurugiriya.

The LTTE claim that the LRRP is trained by foreign intelligence services and responsible for the killing of LTTE leaders, Col. Shanker, Col. Nisam and Lt. Col. Gangai Amaran. They say others such as Col. Balraj, Col. Jeyam and political leader SP Thamilchelvan have also been targeted. The Army have denied LRRP operations in the north-east, but say that LTTE hit squads have penetrated the capital Colombo.

Sources allege that Tiger intelligence chief Pottu Amman has issued an order for the elimination of all members of the LRRP and other informants. According to press reports, at least 20 military intelligence operatives have been murdered since the ceasefire in February 2002. Former LTTE member Lingasamy Devarasa, was shot on 26 April by two people who arrived in an autorickshaw. He later died in hospital. The incident took place at Kohuwela in Colombo. Mr Devarasa had helped in LRRP operations in Batticaloa District.

Another LRRP operative and former member of Tamil group PLOTE, K R Ragupathy was killed in Mt Lavinia on 18 March. The security forces have introduced new security measures in Colombo, including checkpoints to track down the Tiger hit squads. Observers believe that the Tigers may have informants within the military and warned that there will be more deaths."


SLA claymore attack kills two LTTE members in Trincomalee

Captain Suman (Vensumin Anpurasa) of Trincomalee and Lt. Umainesan (Perinaparasa Sasitharan) of Muttur were killed on Friday in a Sri Lankan Army (SLA) claymore attack on Friday around 2:00 am. Capt. Suman and Lt. Umainesan were walking through the Thambalakamam jungle of the LTTE administered area when the claymore explosion hit them. The attack was set up by the SLA’s Deep Penetration Unit. Mr Elilan, the Trincomalee Political Head for the LTTE, confirmed the incident.


Five more Tigers captured by Karuna Faction

Karuna Faction has captured five Tiger cadres who had come to Batticaloa for an attack. Found in their possession were also were four Claymore bombs.

Media spokesman for Karuna Faction, Assad Maulana says that these Tigers had come from Vavunathivu and Karadiyanaru areas to attacks on STF personal who are on road clearing patrols. It has also been discovered that there are two vehicles for suicide missions in Batticaloa.


Yet another paramilitary menace emerges

A split within the Sri Lankan government sponsored Karuna paramilitary group has ended up in the creation of yet another paramilitary menace by the name of 'Pillaiyan Group', reports from the capital Trincomalee say.

Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, alias Karuna is a former commander in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He was ousted from the organisation in 2004 on charges of financial mismanagement and recruitment of children into the organisation.

Since then, he has been running a paramilitary group known as 'Karuna Group' with the assistance of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL).

The group consisted of around a dozen former LTTE fighters who were ousted along with Karuna.

In recent months, Karuna has been accused by several international human rights agencies of abducting boys as young as 13 to bolster his fledgling armed group.

Recent reports from Trincomalee say that the group's 'Supreme Commander' known as Pillaiyan has splintered away due to undisclosed disagreements with Karuna.

Speculation arise is that Pillaiyan resented the 'remote-control' approach of Karuna, who is based in Colombo, towards Pillaiyan and others based in Batticaloa.

Consequently, Pillaiyan, along with around 15 of his followers has gone into hiding, to save himself from boys loyal to Karuna.

According to information reaching us from Colombo, Sri Lankan government elements are in frantic efforts to patch up the differences between the two men, to ensure that infighting does not breakout between the various government sponsored paramilitaries.


Another Pirabhakaran Knockout

It’s a good feeling to enter the ring with thousands of people booing you. Especially when you know you can deliver what you predict.

-Muhammad Ali [in his autobiography, The Greatest: My Own Story, 1975]

Every sport has its own hair-raising magical moments. A home run for baseball, a slam dunk for basketball, a sixer for cricket, an ippon for judo, a service ace for tennis – and a knockout for boxing. Among these, knockout is something extraordinary. Not me, but George Foreman – the Big George- had said it, and no one can question Foreman’s credentials on that. To quote Big George’s exact words, “You can practice a home run, a touchdown run, or a spectacular dunk. You can’t practice a knockout. It is still the ultimate in sports….You can’t train for a knockout. A knockout is produced by an element of surprise. When it happens, you ask yourself, ‘Oops, how did that happen?” [source: ‘George on Knockouts’ by George Foreman,]

As a major deliverer of a number of classic knockouts in boxing history, Foreman was indeed a knockout king. For the record, Foreman won 76 of his 81 professional fights; 68 among these 76 wins were by knockout – an amazing percentage. In comparison, Muhammad Ali won 56 of his 61 professional fights; 37 of Ali’s 56 wins were by knockout. But, one of Ali’s 37 knockout victims was Foreman in 1974.

What the deliverer of a knockout knows is that he has the potential to deliver it. But the exact moment of its appearance is rather difficult to predict by others in the arena. Knockout is the outcome of a perfect combination of four ingredients possessed by a boxer; confidence, energy, speed and technique. Each ingredient has to be in equal proportions and gel properly for a knockout to occur. In addition, the recipient’s unpreparedness and agitated mental state also contribute to the success of the knockout punch. If the fans who were watching it in close quarters blinked, they may miss a knockout. The sting and the force of a knockout can only be felt by its recipient in the ring. Others who are near the scene [referee, commentators, cameramen and even the deliverer] cannot properly describe the pungent blow. Ali’s second title fight with Sonny Liston held on May 25, 1965 at St.Dominic’s Hall, Lewiston, Maine, ended with a first round knockout. For the 2,434 fans who were in attendance, it was so fast, appeared so effortless, and happened even before quite a number of them settled down on their seats. But Ali’s ‘phantom punch’ (as it had been tagged in boxing lore) had been captured in the camera. Ali had called it an ‘anchor punch.’ In his own words, “Sports Illustrated got a slow motion camera and clocked the punch in four one-hundredths of a second, which is an eye blink, like a camera flash. Now the minute I hit Sonny Liston, all those people blinked at the same moment. That’s why they didn’t see the punch.” (cited in Muhammad Ali-Memories, by N.Leifer and T.Hauser, 1992) Quite a number even cried foul and whined that Liston dived and ‘threw’ the fight. Subsequently, by demolishing his other opponents with speed, power and fancy footwork, Ali proved to his distractors that his ‘anchor punch’ on Liston couldn’t have been a fluke.

George Foreman has written an anecdote on Ali. “I remember speaking with Muhammad Ali in the early-70’s, just after he was relicensed to fight. I had provoked him in a hotel, then called to apologize. He said, ‘That’s okay. I know you’re young. Like you, I used to boast that I would knock a guy out in a certain round. But I wouldn’t know when it would happen.’ I remember thinking, ‘Wow, even he [Ali, that is] didn’t know.

We are living in a time where an unparalleled knockout champion in the battlefield is our contemporary. The Pirabhakaran knockouts in the battlefield are now becoming so magical that they would stand untouched as military records in island’s history. Let me list a few since Mahattaya [Pirabhakaran’s then deputy, who connived with India’s stinking skunks to replace the LTTE leader, for almost five years beginning in mid 1989; now, as one correspondent cited below, has been relegated to the status of ‘forgotten footnote to Tamil history'] departed in 1994. The Mullaitivu Base knockout of July 1996, The Elephant Pass Base knockout of April 2000, The Katunayake Army Base knockout of July 2001, and the latest - Easter Sunday Kudumbimalai [Thoppigala] Base knockout of April 2004. If Mullaitivu (1996) and Elephant Pass (2000) were Pirabha’s knockouts in the middle rounds, Katunayake (2001) and Kudumbimalai (2004) were knockouts in the first round.

Kudumbimalai Base knockout of Pirabhakaran was different from the previous ones, since it was against a former protégé turned a traitor. But still it is nothing but a knockout. The stinking skunks and their journalist handlers had hyped Col.Karuna’s standing power without knowing the chinks in his armory. Pirabhakaran would have felt what champion Ali told about his feelings in 1963, before his fight with Sonny Liston? “It’s a good feeling to enter the ring with thousands of people booing you. Especially when you know you can deliver what you predict.” Let me review chronologically the pundits and defence analysts who were ‘booing’ Pirabhakaran since March 3rd.

‘Oops, how did that Happen?’; a summary of Karuna’s 38 day fame

Quite a number of prattling pundits and self-anointed defence analysts would be wondering, ‘Oops, how did that Happen?’. To name a few, Iqbal Athas [Sunday Times, Colombo], Bandula Jayasekara [Island, Colombo], D.B.S.Jeyaraj [Sunday Leader, Colombo], N.Ram, Nirupama Subramanian and V.S.Sambandan [The Hindu, Chennai], M.R.Narayan Swamy, Retired Major General Ashok K.Mehta, P.K.Balachandran [Hindustan Times], Lt.General Lionel Balagalle, Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu and Kingsley de Silva.

These pundits, on the eve of Sinhala-Hindu New Year, would have experienced dyspepsia and dysphoria. Their feelings would have been similar to those who were given a helicopter ride and dropped waist deep in a latrine pit. From March 3rd, these pundits had been talking and writing ‘pigs are flying’ stories from March 3rd with scary predictions. They were playing with their vocabulary and their vomits are marked with incredulity. It appears now that Karuna’s spokesman Varadan played his assigned role ‘gallantly’ to fool them with his pronouncements.

Here are selected samples – 27 items arranged chronologically - of published punditry in print/electronic media. I have divided the 27 items in two sections. Chronologically, items 1 to 19 (which appeared from March 3 until April 10) made Karuna a pin-up model, and created a mountain out of a mole hill. From April 11, (items 20 to 27) excuses and explanations for Karuna’s run became the theme. At appropriate locations, I have made my observations on some pertinent items.

Section 1: Making a Mountain out of a Mole-hill:

Item 1: “Karuna would not have taken such a bold step as to break away unless he was sure of his support.” [Nirupama Subramanian, in The Hindu, March 9, 2004]

Item 2: “Undiluted up to now, however, is Col.Karuna’s image as tactician and fighter.” [V.S.Sambandan, in The Hindu, March 11, 2004]

Item 3: “Asked if Prabhakaran group was planning a covert operation to get Karuna, the spokesman said that that such a thing was very much on the cards. ‘But they cannot get Karuna. It is practically impossible.’, Varadan said. The assassination squad might either come from Trincomalee crossing the Verugal river, or from Amparai in the south, he added.” [P.K.Balachandran, in Hindustan Times, March 12, 2004]

Item 4: “...Observers say this instance is different because Karuna controls troops and territory in eastern Sri Lanka that the regular Tigers cannot get into…Of the several hundred soldiers seen in Karuna’s camp, most were heavily armed and clad in the telltale fatigues of the LTTE, but Karuna seemed at ease when he met a stream of journalists in the past week. ‘Every person who knows the ground reality can tell how far it can be practically possible. Even if it happens, we are fully prepared’, he said about possible moves by the LTTE to send troops into his area.” [Scott McDonald, in Reuters News, March 14, 2004]

Item 5: “…If he [Karuna] was a frontline guerrilla who fought many a battle against Security Forces in the North after mustering a large strength of eastern cadres, he had made an outstanding contribution after the ceasefire. He had raised the guerrilla strength from a paltry 3,000 in the district to well over 7,500 – a figure that exceeded Security Forces presence in the area…. From a secret location in Batticaloa, Col.Karuna answered questions put to him by the Sunday Times on the telephone. He was assisted by an interpreter. Here are excerpts:…

Are you prepared to take him [i.e., Prabhakaran] on? Unquestionably yes.

On the loyalty of LTTE cadres in Batticaloa: Yes, definitely they are loyal to me. It is their problems that I am fighting for…

Conditions for a settlement with Mr.Prabhakaran: Equal and friendly partnership. No attempt towards war…” [Iqbal Athas, Sunday Times, Colombo, March 14, 2004]

Item 6: “Prabhakaran has no dearth of funds, intelligence and military resources but is not sure he can do another Mahattiya…Karuna has put an additional spoke in the wheel for his leader Prabhakaran. It will take more than money and will power to take out Karuna.” [retired Major General, Ashok K.Mehta, in The Pioneer, March 24, 2004]

Item 7: “The mainstream LTTE led by Velupillai Prabhakaran appears to have lost control over the candidates of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) who are running for the Sri Lankan parliament from the eastern districts of Batticaloa and Amparai (BA). Seventeen out of the eighteen candidates on the TNA list in the two districts are with the breakaway LTTE faction led by the Eastern Commander, Col.Karuna, according to a spokesman of the breakaway group. Varadan, the spokesman, told Hindustan Times over the phone that only Joseph Pararajasingham was with the Prabhakaran group.” [P.K.Balachandran, in Hindustan Times, March 25, 2004]

Item 8: ‘There has been an under-reaction at the political level in Sri Lanka and India to the recent split in the LTTE’, Mr.N.Ram, editor-in-chief, The Hindu, Chennai, said while inaugurating a one-day seminar on ‘LTTE Split and Implications’, organised by Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Chapter, on March 26, 2004. He said the split had major implications with the present diminution in the LTTE’s strength. At the political level, the split dealt a body blow to the idea of the inseparability of the North and East…Mr.Ram said it also had positive implications and was good for the democratisation of the Sri Lankan peace process. He said the split had made the armed struggle for a Tamil Eealm a non-starter…” [N.Ram, in]

It should be noted that the Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Chapter is headed by B.Raman – a retired prime stinking skunk in Indian sewer diplomacy and they even organized a one day seminar on this theme. The opinions expressed by other speakers at this seminar were equally preposterous like that of media busybody N.Ram. For instance, one retired Col.R.Hariharan [identifies as formerly with Military Intelligence, IPKF] had gloated: ‘Conventional wisdom should not be applied in determining the LTTE’s fighting strength, though its capability could have been greatly diminished with the current split. The more the LTTE attempted to wish away the Karuna problem, the greater are the chances of the Tamils losing confidence in the LTTE leadership.’

Item 9: “With several stretches of jungle such as Kudumbimalai, Vada Munai, Unichai, Punanai, Bakiella, Kanchikudhichaaru and Sangamankandy, the terrain is certainly conducive to guerilla warfare. So, even if the LTTE transports enough cadre to outnumber Karuna’s, the latter can abandon positional warfare and opt for guerilla tactics against the LTTE. Given the Karuna faction’s better knowledge of the terrain and support of the Eastern people, the fight could be a protracted one. The longer it takes, the greater the damage to the LTTE.” [D.B.S.Jeyaraj, in Frontline, March 27, 2004]

Maybe Karuna sure had good knowledge of the terrain in East Eelam. But it could not help him when he was knocked out. Despite his pretentious projections, when it came to predicting Pirabhakaran’s battlefield operations, Jeyaraj proved to be an ignoramus and not a seer.

Item 10: “In the aftermath of the elections, Col.Karuna no doubt will emerge strong. He will have a parliamentary team and thus the leverage to bargain with whatever Government that gets elected. That will be the biggest threat for Mr.Prabhakaran and the biggest poser for the future of the peace process. Hence, without doubt the next 96 hours will be crucial moments in Sri Lanka’s history.” [Iqbal Athas, Sunday Times, Colombo, March 28, 2004]

Item 11: “…an internal challenge to the LTTE leadership from a breakaway group led by Karuna, a former military leader of the group, could upset the TNA’s electoral calculations.” [editorial in The Hindu, March 30, 2004, probably from the pen of N.Ram]

General elections were held on April 2nd. Final results were officially released on April 4th. These results revealed that N.Ram was pipe-dreaming about Karuna upsetting the TNA’s electoral calculations. Of course, Karuna acted on a script written by India’s stinking skunks, as presented previously by yours truly and also by Vimukthi Yapa in the Sunday Leader of April 11th. The problem was that his acting lacked finesse and was too amateurish for political theater.

Item 12: “The LTTE may portray itself as being representative of Tamil Eelam comprising the north and east but Karuna has raised an eastern revolt. Demanding that the east abandon Karuna now was an unrealistic demand.” [D.B.S.Jeyaraj, in Sunday Leader, April 4, 2004]

Item 13: “ The ability of the Tamil Tigers to wage war is in question’, says political analyst Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, head of the international Centre for Policy Alternatives. ‘This is serious – Karuna has blown a hole in the whole Tiger structure, both politically and militarily.’…Unlike Mahatiya, a forgotten foot-note to Tamil history, Karuna is a survivor with staying power – with thousands of battle-hardened fighters under his command who have largely remained loyal….

‘The LTTE has a tradition of eliminating all potential rivals, but Karuna will be a little more difficult,’ says historian Kingsley da Silva of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies in Colombo. ‘Karuna is not a pushover…The split will persist.’…Prabhakaran’s rump Tigers may now be more pliable than before in negotiating a possible federalist solution instead of the full autonomy or sovereignty they have long demanded. With Karuna controlling the east, the northern Tigers can no longer claim to be the sole voice of the Tamil minority. ‘The LTTE will find it very difficult,’ predicts da Silva. ‘Whom do they represent? They can no longer say they represent all Tamils.’…[Martin Regg Cohn, in Toronto Star, April 4, 2004]

Item 14: “Karuna’s attitude is different. He doesn’t take taxes, he doesn’t want to abduct people, he doesn’t want to kill people. He has stopped all that. At least so far. I can’t speak about the future, [but] it appears he will have a fairly good support base.” [Sri Lankan military commander Lt.Gen.Lionel Balagalle, in an interview to Ramananda Sengupta, in Colombo,, April 5, 2004]

Item 15: “With the Karuna-led split, the LTTE can no longer claim to be the sole representative of the Tamils.” [editorial in The Hindu, April 6, 2004, probably from the pen of N.Ram]

Chennai busybody Ram’s assertion like this was nothing but hogwash and as typical of him he can even pretend to hide a pumpkin in a plate of rice.

Item 16: “The eastern Commander of the LTTE, Karuna Amman who has crossed swords with Prabhakaran faction, says he knows Prabhakaran better than anyone else.” [Bandula Jayasekara, in The Lanka Academic, April 8, 2004].

The wording in this beginning sentence of an interview with Karuna, by Colombo Island newspaper’s hack needs attention. Karuna was presented as the authentic ‘Eastern Commander of the LTTE,’ though in reality he was expelled from LTTE on March 6. The real LTTE was degraded to the ‘Prabhakaran faction.’ Jayasekara’s one question to Karuna was: ‘Are you ready to fight back? Could you take them on?’. For this, Karuna had boasted as follows: “I know the LTTE inside out. I know its strengths and weaknesses. I can tell you that they cannot have more than 2000 soldiers in the Wanni. Total cadres could be about 8000. But, I am talking only about the fighters. However, I will try everything possible to avoid internal killings and shedding blood in this country again. But, despite all our attempts, if they go on the offensive, we will be forced to defend ourselves.”

Karuna was talking like his former nominal adversary Gen.Anuruddha Ratawatte of mid and late 1990s. And within three days, Karuna was forced to fold his colorful 38-day old tent and flee.

Item 17: “Mr.Prabhakaran has to be on the offensive. With the advantage of his territory, Col.Karuna will be defensive,’ a senior source in the security forces told The Hindu…Col.Karuna, who was the LTTE’s military commander for two eastern districts – Batticaloa and Amparai- till the Tigers expelled him on March 6, controls nearly 70 percent of the eastern Batticaloa district, which is spread across 2,6886.3 In addition, he controls a small part of the neighbouring Muslim-majority Amparai district 4,318.2…’Karuna’s men could be making tactical withdrawals and encircling the northern cadres.’ eastern security sources said.” [V.S.Sambandan, in The Hindu, April 10, 2004]

Item 18: “…By morning Karuna had sent 300 cadres including some 100 of his elite commandos to Vakari, north of Valaichchenai, as reinforcements to counter the Wanni cadres who had infiltrated Batticaloa. Apparently in preparation for a big counter attack Karuna had moved his troops towards Kanchikudichiaru jungle areas, reports said.” [Kasun Yapa Karunaratne, Kelum Bandara, Champika Liyanarachchi, Sunil Jayasiri an Sunimalee Dias, in Colombo Daily Mirror, April 10, 2004]

Item 19: “Sources close to Karuna say that his withdrawal from the area was tactical and that he is ready for a wider offensive and a fierce onslaught now. Prabhakaran’s troops still haven’t confronted Karuna’s crack fighters.” [[Bandula Jayasekara, in The Lanka Academic, April 12, 2004]

Section 2: Excuses and Explanations

The stinking skunks and prattling pundits, despite being shattered by the collapse of Karuna’s much-boasted muscle, were quick to come out with excuses. And the journalist hacks who had boosted Karuna’s ego with their telephone calls and hypes, had the following to write.

Item 20: “A silent section of Batticaloa residents relate to the political positions he [i.e, Karuna] has adopted. However, predictably in a society where the gun is the main opinion-maker, this support base is rapidly shifting.” [V.S.Sambandan, in The Hindu, April 11, 2004]

Item 21: “The odds are stacked against the breakaway LTTE leader Colonel Karuna, who is now engaged in a desperate rearguard action to thwart the advance of forces loyal to the outfit’s Supremo, Velupillai Prabhakaran. Karuna is beginning to pay the price for launching a rebellion against a Leviathan like Prabhakaran, without adequate political, financial and military preparation.” [P.K.Balachandran, in Hindustan Times, April 11, 2004]

Item 22: “Karuna knew that an attack was imminent and it was only a matter of time before Prabhakaran’s forces would strike. However, he underestimated Prabhakaran’s strength and build up in the area. Karuna was only prepared for a defensive operation, and had declared that he was not willing to shed blood and would avoid internal killings.” [Bandula Jayasekara, in The Lanka Academic, April 12, 2004]

Item 23: “Karuna’s revolt, which began with high hopes and international publicity on March 3, ended ignominiously 38 days later, with the leader meekly seeking refuge with the Sri Lankan armed forces, which he had fought tooth and nail since the mid 1980s.” [P.K.Balachandran, in Hindustan Times, April 13, 2004]

Item 24: “Prabhakaran was no doubt helped in his anti-Karuna offensive by Norway, which maintained a studied silence even as the LTTE built up its forces in the Trincomalee-Batticaloa border in violation of the peace pact signed with Colombo in February 2002, assassinated Tamils sympathetic to Karuna and then over-ran Karuna’s positions…There are other factors too: the Tamil nationalism Prabhakaran has injected into the LTTE ensured the bulk of fighters with Karuna would not take up arms against a group that stands for a free Tamil state; Karuna was, politically, no match for Prabhakaran; and the Sri Lankan state simply did not have the guts to throw its lot with Karuna to take advantage of its best chance to weaken the LTTE.” [M.R.Narayan Swamy, in Times of India, April 13, 2004]

Item 25: “…Karuna broke away, taking with him some 6,000 fighters and control of a large chunk of eastern Sri Lanka. But when Prabhakaran launching an attack on the renegades last weekend, Karuna lost all of that almost immediately. Karuna's choices for his defenses may have set the stage for his quick downfall. He set up bases along the Verugal River, which runs halfway between the northeastern town of Trincomalee and the main eastern city of Batticaloa.

With its picture-postcard scenery, the river's main ferry crossing was a showcase for Karuna to exhibit his defiance. Journalists were invited to inspect his positions, and photos showed breakaway Tigers readying for attack. But he didn't bother setting up positions along his flanks. So when a force of northern-based guerrillas attacked his defenses from three sides on April 9, the situation quickly changed. Within an hour, Karuna's fighters had retreated…

Military analysts say Karuna's decision to set up established bases created easy targets. A less structured guerrilla resistance may have made it more difficult for the main Tiger movement to overwhelm them, they say. ‘Karuna wanted to show off that he was in control,’ said retired Air Marshall Harry Goonetilleke.’ There was complacency on his side that he was all-powerful and could take on Prabhakaran.’ In addition, Karuna may have underestimated his fighters' loyalty to Prabhakaran. In an organization where loyalty is prized above nearly all else, years of fealty to Prabhakaran could not be easily changed. ‘At the end it was very difficult for Karuna's eastern cadres to fight against Prabhakaran,’ said political analyst Jehan Perera of the National Peace Council research group. ‘They also realized that it was not just north versus the east, but it was Tamils against Tamils.’[Dilip Ganguly, in Associated Press report, April 14, 2004]

Item 26: “According to sources in the east, one of the reasons for the swift end to the operation was because it was led by eastern commanders, who had moved over to the Vanni immediately after the rebel commander parted ways with the LTTE.” [V.S.Sambandan, in The Hindu, April 15, 2004]

Item 27: “…He(Karuna) might have thought that he would be able to get India on his side, when he condemned the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and declared that he had Neelan, one of the plotters of the assassination, in his custody. But India did not fall for the bait, and kept aloof…” [P.K.Balachandran, in Hindustan Times, April 15, 2004]

This is nothing but a classic turn-around spin by top media shrew Balachandran, extricating India’s stinking skunks from their folly which bombed. I would tag this spin, as ‘Wiggle of Wicked Wimps’(WWW). The prominence and the terminology used to describe Karuna’s actions [such as rebellion, revolt, vertical split and other hogwash!] in Indian print and electronic media during his ‘short 38 day glory’ expose the bold face cop-out of top media shrew Balachandran. Even a skunk front in Chennai [Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Chapter] organized a one-day seminar on ‘LTTE Split and Implications’on March 26, 2004. It was addressed by anti-LTTE media personnel including N.Ram. [see, item 8 above]

What were Karuna’s prime defects?

The above-quoted eight items of excuses and explanations provide only bits and pieces of Karuna’s chinks. George Foreman’s reflections on how he won first [against Joe Frazier in 1973] and then lost [to Muhammad Ali in 1974] by knockouts are revelational to read. Foreman wrote,

“I remember getting ready to fight Smokin’ Joe Frazier in Jamaica in 1973, and knowing that when the bell rang, he would be coming after me with evil intentions…I got out there and knocked Joe down to be crowned heavyweight champion of the world. It was the happiest moment of my career.

Then, overconfidence set in. I was fighting Muhammad Ali in Zaire in 1974. I was thinking that the $5 million I was making was the easiest money in the world. I was going to whip the guy; he was old and over the hill. And after three or four rounds I was beating him. But by the seventh sound, I was tired. I hit him in the stomach and he said, ‘Is that all you got, George?’ And I’m thinking ‘Yup’. Then I got knocked down and heard the referee count…”

Give credit to Foreman’s humility, which has endeared him in American business and entertainment circles. What Big George had described about his ego and humiliating moment 30 years ago, wouldn’t be that different from what was in Karuna’s mind in 2004. Nothing but “Overconfidence.” Among the prattling pundits, only retired Air Marshall Harry Goonetilleke had come near this truth, with his quip of smugness on the part of Karuna. Others, like N.Ram and D.B.S.Jeyaraj, also undoubtedly suffered a knockout blow on their punditry image. None of the prattling pundits have the spine to openly acknowledge the second defect in Karuna’s armor. He didn’t keep his vanity in check and permitted himself to be manipulated by stinking skunks of both India and Sri Lanka. His screams of regional discrimination and other assorted ‘ready-made confessions’ were nothing but smoke-screen to hide his character flaw.

It appears to me that almost every word in George Foreman’s brief reflection on his loss to Ali in 1974 resonates accurately with Karuna’s fall from a hero to zero in March 2004; especially ‘easy money,’ ‘he [i.e, in this case - Pirabhakaran] was old and over the hill’, and ‘I hit him in the stomach.’ Whatever post-hoc excuses or explanations the pundits and prattling wordsmiths produce, a knockout is a knockout, and Pirabhakaran delivered it convincingly when Eelam Tamils were expecting it.

Each of Pirabhakaran’s battlefield knockouts [Mullaitivu Base, Elephant Pass Base and Katunayake Base in particular] have turned out to be classics for their design, audacity and execution. Col.Karuna claimed a legitimate share of his glory in these knockouts. But the recent Kudumbimalai Base knockout is probably sweeter to Pirabhakaran, since he had his prestige on the line to show the world who is the Master of the Ring. Narayan Swamy’s reflection [in Times of India, April 13; item 24, cited above] was captioned as ‘Dare Devil Prabhakaran.’ It is nothing but appropriate from the angle of stinking skunks, who were taught who was the ultimate wimp; but for Eelam Tamils, Pirabhakaran has proved again that he is a guardian angel. Let's wish our champion Pirabhakaran, in advance, a Happy 50th birthday in November this year. May God bless him, his trusted confidants and loyal foot soldiers in NorthEast Eelam.


Children hiding in wells or cattle sheds

The LTTE is reportedly stepping up its recruitment drive in the north in preparation for an all-out battle with government troops, Amnesty International told the Daily Mirror yesterday.

The AI said it also received reports of Tiger cadres specially targeting teenagers in the Madhu area.

Meanwhile aid agencies operating in the east said the recruitment of children by the LTTE and the Karuna faction was continuing unabated and families afraid of losing their children to either of these groups were hiding the children in wells, cattle sheds or on ceilings.

An official working with a leading aid agency said helpless parents were frequently heard to lament that there was no where to go or anyone to turn to.

Amnesty International was particularly concerned about child recruitment from among some 29,000 refugees who escaped from the heavy fighting at the Vavuniya-Mannar border and were being sheltered at the Madhu Church camp.

"The recruitment of child soldiers is appalling and condemnable – childhood is a special time for play and physical and mental development. But sadly most children are forcibly abducted and this is a terrifying and a traumatic experience not only for the child but also the families, uncertain as to what has happened to the children," AI Deputy Asia Director Tim Parritt said.

With regular reports of child recruitment by the LTTE and the Karuna faction -- irrespective of whether the children were forcibly taken away or chose to join either of the groups voluntarily -- Mr. Parritt reiterated that using children aged below 15 years, in armed conflict was banned under international law.

“We urgently call for the LTTE and the Karuna faction to immediately stop recruiting children and to return them to their families,” Mr. Parritt said.

Leading rights’ groups including the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, last month urged the US government to support legislation which sought to limit military assistance to Sri Lanka and some 20 other countries where the use of child soldiers wass rampant.

A new bipartisan bill -- Support the Child-Soldier Prevention Act of 2007 -- introduced by US Senators Richard Durbin and Sam Brownback calls to restrict such aid but to be implemented will require the support of the Bush administration.


A shameful betrayal

Our little country has been very unfortunate that from ancient times there had been people who resorted to acts of treachery against the motherland for personal gain.

The most recent of such acts is the Police raid on the Military Intelligence Safe House at Athurugiriya where the LRRP who was engaged in covert operations against the LTTE was based.

How this raid came to pass in given in detail in the report of the Presidential Commissioner of Inquiry, former Judge of the Court of Appeal D. Jayawickrama.

He declared that the Police raid was a "total betrayal and absolute treachery to the nation". The government, Prime Minister and Ministers are found to deserve blame on the incident. As a result of this highly publicised raid on the safe house the LTTE who was hitherto in the dark about its existence began to search and kill those who had connections with the LRRP.

Up to now 44 individuals have been killed and the hunt for others is going on. The government has to take the responsibility for these killings because it is due to political patronage that Kulasiri Udugampola ASP took the law into his own hands and raided the Army Safe House at Athurugiriya even without due permission from his superiors. In view of this position, government has a responsibility to see to the welfare and sustenance of the families whose bread-winners had given their life for the country.

The Defence Ministry was under the Government when the Safe House raid took place but strangely no investigation was launched on this very irregular incident to find out the true facts.

The LRRP team with its leader Captain Nilam were taken into custody by Kulasiri Udugampola ASP who raided the Safe House and took them to Kandy where they had been treated in a humiliating manner.

When they were released from the Police cell on the orders of the then Minister of Defence, Captain Nilam and his men filed a Fundamental Rights petition against the Police in the Supreme Court to the great embarrassment of the Government.

To persuade them to withdraw the F.R. petition they had been offered foreign employment and comfortable life with family all of which were turned down. They now stand vindicated in view of Supreme Court verdict given this day.

After the President took the Defence Ministry under her, action was taken to give effect to the recommendations of the Presidential Commission. The Army high ranking officers proved to have conspired to raid the Safe House are given their just desserts to the acclamation of the public at large.

This is a glaring instance where the government has badly let down its own Army in order to favour the enemy. It is said to have been reported in Strait Times of Singapore that the Parliament of Sri Lanka comprised crooks and criminals. What a shame!