Monday, May 14, 2007

Karuna - Pillaiyan rivalry patched up

Karuna has agreed to come forward to patch up differences with the rival Commandant Pillaiyan and end the fratricidal warfare initiated by his loyal commanders Iniyabarathi, Veera, Ranjan, Thileepan and Jeeventiran.

The patching up exercise was forced on Karuna and at last he decided to meet alone Pillaiyan and his delegation for a three hour face to face meeting in Colombo.

Asian Tribune learnt that Karuna was interested in having N.S.Krisnar, his confidential advisor from London by his side, but the other delegation objected to his participation.

At the meeting Pillaiyan’s loyalists Jeyam a senior commander and Marckan, commander in charge of the TMVP military wing in Trincomalee participated.

In a hard bargained negotiation, it was agreed that Karuna would remain the overall leader of the outfit called Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal.

It was further agreed –

Jeyam would be entrusted with the day to day administration of the TMVP

Assassinated Sintghujan family to be included in the martyrs list and a monthly compensation of Rs.12,500/ to be paid to Sinthujan’s wife, as paid to the other 350 TMVP martyrs’ family. The killing was worded as ‘mysterious’ and it was decided to investigate into this sordid episode.

Both parties agreed to set up a politburo shortly, to be overall in charge of the running of the TMVP.

Regarding Pillaiyan’s position in the outfit, it has been decided to finalize the issue at a later stage and he will continue to maintain the present status quo. He will also continue with his 120 member personal bodyguard team.

In conclusion it has been agreed that both parties to work closely to promote the outfit.

Asian Tribune learnt that the meeting failed to decide on the contentious issue of the rampaging Karuna loyal commanders Iniyabarathi, Veera, Ranjan, Thileepan and Jeeventiran, who challenged Pillaiyan loyalists and responsible for the fratricidal warfare.

Furthermore no decision was taken up regarding the recruitment of child soldiers.

Recently when the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict considering the Report of the Secretary-General on the Situation of Children and Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka, has decided that its Chairman will issue a strong public warning to the LTTE and the Karuna faction stating that further measures will be taken by the Security Council for its continued failure to cease the recruitment of children and to release child combatants.

The Working Group report has urged them to engage with UNICEF to release all children among their ranks and prevent further unlawful recruitment of children.

According to sources, Karuna with the view to build a loyal team for him has invited Jeeventiran, who was in Qatar, and Thileepan from France who were with him before the split with LTTE.

Sources said that those two were elevated to the rank of commanders.

Sources further added that those two were involved in building up their own team and almost all their team members are abducted child combatants.


Split in Karuna group reported

The pro-government Tamil militant group led by the former LTTE commander Karuna has reportedly split, with Karuna and his deputy, Pillaiyan, falling out over money and the command structure.

Quoting military sources The Nation weekly said on Sunday that Pillaiyan had fled to Trincomalee from Batticaloa with 150 of his followers.

Pillaiyan, as the man in the field, had resented Karuna's remote control, reliable sources told Hindustan Times.

The Nation said that the infighting had led to the killing of Sindujan, a Pillaiyan loyalist who was the head of the Karuna group in Amparai district.

Sindujan and the group's intelligence chief, Seelan, were called for a meeting where a Karuna loyalist, Iniyabharathi, killed Sindujan. Seelan escaped miraculously, the paper said. The clash within the group had erupted over the distribution of money.

On the day Sindujan was killed, Karuna had invited Pillaiyan to come over for a discussion. But Pillaiyan had chosen not to go as he knew what awaited him, The Nation said.

Those in the know recall that the Karuna-Prabhakaran split in early 2004 had also occurred over the use or misuse of money. The LTTE's financel department and its intelligence chief (Pottu Amman) had alleged misappropriation of funds by Karuna, who was then the Batticaloa and Amparai district commander.

They asked the Supremo, Velupillai Prabhakaran, to take action against Karuna. Prabhkaran summoned Karuna to the Wanni for a discussion. But Karuna chose not to go because he knew what awaited him.

Instead, he split, struck an alliance with the Sri Lankan government, and formed his own Batticaloa Amparai-based politico-military organisation called Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (Tamil Peoples' Liberation Tigers).

Informed sources say that in the fight within the Karuna group, Karuna will have the upper hand because he represents the 'brand'. Given his past as Prabhakaran's deputy, Karuna is likely to get outside support and not Pillaiyan.

It is likely that Prabhakaran will try to get Pillaiyan and his men to come over to his side, taking advantage of the offer of amnesty including jobs overseas.

Pillaiyan may find it hard to survive on his own. But it remains to be seen if he will exercise the option of seeking refuge in Prabhakaran.


Exit Karuna: Pillaiyan, new kid on the block

On the eve of an ambitious programme to resettle displaced people in the East and hold elections in the province, the military maintains that it cannot afford confrontations in cleared areas. This position was taken, even as the ‘Karuna’ group feud led to open clashes and killings in the past fortnight.

Hence, Vinyagamurthy Muralitheran, alias Karuna Amman, was advised by Military Intelligence to flee the country, as the ‘Karuna’ group was divided right down the middle.

His No. 2, Pillaiyan, who is the supreme commander of all the others, openly clashed with him. Pillaiyan, who was throughout in the war zone, even when Karuna was abroad for safety, was the go-between, between Karuna and the commanders. The military on the ground, had greater dealings with him.

Karuna, accordingly, left the country this week, to an undisclosed destination, along with trusted loyalists. He left with much resentment, even as Pillaiyan took the upper hand, claiming he would fight both Prabhakaran and Karuna.

Security Forces Commander East, Maj. Gen. Parakrama Pannipitiya, only this week, confirmed to reporters, what we have been saying: elections would be held in the East. With the East, more or less secured by the military, with the help of Karuna, in more ways than one, some claimed he had outlived his purpose and his presence was dangerous for several reasons, at this juncture.

The international community, including visiting US Assistant Secretary of State, Richard Boucher, has urged the government to disassociate itself from the ‘Karuna’ group, which is involved in abductions, killings and conscription of youth. Last week, British Minister for Middle East, Dr. Kim Howells, in the House of Commons debate said:

“Reports of the Government’s links with the ‘Karuna’ faction, led by a former LTTE commander, concern us a great deal. We believe Karuna and his faction to be responsible for extrajudicial killings, abductions, intimidation of displaced persons and child recruitment.”
However, more important, Karuna Amman was beginning to assert himself in the political domain on matters East and had even demanded for the Chief Minister Post. Karuna made it clear that he would contest the provincial council elections that are on the cards. He had also wanted to head an interim arrangement. On the merger, he maintained that it was not the government but the people of the East, who had to decide in two years, through a referendum.
Some strongly feel that the feud within the ‘Karuna’ group was covertly engineered, and efforts by the military, to openly settle the dispute in the cleared Vakarai area, were again undermined, with subsequent inspired killings on either side.

Karuna, from the day he broke away from the LTTE, in March, 2004, openly proclaimed that a separate State cannot be achieved. Afforded the protection and patronage of the State, he even duly complied with the request to remove the “Eelam” part of his political party, originally called, Tamil Eelam Makkal Viduthalaip Puligal (TEMVP).

Karuna strongly felt that the military and the government had political plans for him in the East and hence, the request to drop the word ‘Eelam’ from his party name. Not even Minister Douglas Devananda from the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), was requested to drop the dirty word from his party name.

To coincide with the third anniversary of his breakaway, and in view of elections and reports of infiltration by the LTTE, he made the trek to Batticalao, a little over a month ago.

It appears that the military was more comfortable with Pillaiyan at this stage of things, since he had lesser political ambitions, and was a lesser known factor, internationally. Hence, the need to ditch Karuna for the present.

TMVP spokesman Azad Moulana, has also gone missing and his mobile phones are not responding. Moulana and Mangalan Master were neutral. However, in the face of the feud, the former fled, while the latter was forced to align with Pillaiyan.

On Karuna’s side, the key people are Iniyabharathi, Riyaseelan, Sinnathamby, Jeyathaan, Santhiveli Maamaa, Machilan and Thileepan, who, the military maintains, had been bribed while in France, by the LTTE, to cause the split within the group. However, others say that MI got in touch with Krishnan from London, to engineer the split within the group.

On Pillaiyan’s side are Seelan (intelligence chief), Sitha Master, Markan (Trincomalee leader), Thooyavan, Sasi and Sindujan, the Amparai military wing leader whose death was planned by Iniyaparadi who was in charge of Karuna’s finances. Iniyaparadi requested Sindujan and Seelan to come to the TMVP Batticaloa office, for a meeting last Thursday, while Pillaiyan was invited to a meeting with Karuna, in Colombo. When Pillayan, on his way to Colombo, learnt that Sindujan and four others of his group were assassinated by Iniyaparadi, he did not proceed to Colombo but retuned to safety. Seelan, who was injured when Iniyaparadi shot him, is hospitalized. Sindujan’s father, who had given evidence against Iniyaparadi, in the killing of his son, was also killed in Kallar this week. The chances of patching up now appear bleak.

Even the military had mooted that Pillaiyan loyalists flee Batticaloa and Amparai and operate in Trincomalee and Polonnaruwa. Karuna loyalists were asked to remain from the lower part of Batticaloa up to Pottuvil, where there were clashes recently with Muslims. So, former LTTE strongholds in Karadiyanaru and Kokkadichcolai were to be occupied by the ‘Karuna’ faction. Batticaloa town was to be patronized by both groups, under the supervision of the forces.
Karuna was to be the overall leader of TMVP and Pillaiyan the party’s military wing leader and No. 2 in the party.

However, all these arrangements came to naught, with Karuna’s early exit and the resultant loss of influence. More than three-fourths of the ‘Karuna’ faction came under Pillaiyan, even as security forces on the ground, prevented the ‘Karuna’ faction team sent to capture Markan and others from proceeding. Pradeep Master, former eastern political leader and Jeyathaan have now pledged to support Pillaiyan. So, it is a clear case of Karuna outliving his usefulness and ending up nowhere.

As he broke away in March 2004, the LTTE Wanni leadership summoned Karuna to the north. The military, which at that time was instructed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, not to have any truck with the renegade, for fear of stalling the peace process, even provided a chopper for him to go North.

Karuna spurned the offer and decided to stay put, until the LTTE sent a team, not only across the Verugal River but, from behind him, forcing him to flee in the face of the onslaught.

The LTTE had a mole in Karuna’s office, who passed on information that he was embezzling funds. The split in the ‘Karuna’ group is again over moneys extorted not being reported but embezzled. In the end, it all boils down to money. There have been previous instances too, where LTTE leaders abroad, were relieved off their duties, when they were learnt to have embezzled funds.

Those higherups, including a No. 2 in the LTTE, were summarily executed, when it was learnt that they were treacherous, in passing on information to the Research and Analysis Wing. However, Karuna survived, for two reasons. He got out at the correct time and challenged the LTTE on regionalism, striking a chord with sections of the Tamils in the East. However, their deeds betrayed them, particularly, when they started extorting money, introducing taxes and staging abductions.

However, what will Pillaiyan be able to offer the Tamil people? Security-wise, will they be assured security, while politically, what could he offer them? He has promised to take on both Prabhakaran and Karuna. So, the internecine war will continue, even as the LTTE is watching the feud in the ‘Katuna’ group and the military situation, since the army is bent on securing the last stronghold- the Toppigala jungles.

As of now, since Pillaiyan will continue his war against the Wanni Tigers, rendering Prabhakaran’s goal of Eelam, a pipe dream.

Tomorrow will mark the 31st anniversary of the Vadukoddai Resolution. At the 1977 general elections, the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) campaigned for a separate State, based on this resolution. This, then, could be traced as the beginning of the demand for a separate State.
With the incumbent Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) routed at the polls (8 seats), the TULF became the single largest political party (18 seats), earning the status of the chief Opposition party in 1977. TULF Leader Appapillai Amirthalingam became the Opposition Leader.

Exactly 30-years back, the TULF obtained a ‘mandate’ from its constituencies for a separate State, little realizing the death and destruction in store for its community.

President J.R. Jayewardene (UNP) introduced the Sixth Amendment to Parliament, that effectively meant Amirthalingam and Co. had to eschew separatism.

After three decades, you have Gajan Ponnambalam- the grandson of G.G. Ponnambalam (snr.) who is remembered for his 50-50 demand for the minority - justifying in Parliament this week, LTTE aircraft attacking targets in Colombo. Gajan’s frame of mind is understandable, since his father, G.G. Ponnambalam (jnr.), a vociferous critic of the State, was killed in broad daylight in Colombo. Equally critical of the State was a Member of Parliament N. Raviraj, also gunned down last November.

The LTTE and the breakaway ‘Karuna’ group operating in the East, is no better in tolerating dissent. Ruthless as they are, they would mow down individuals within and outside, for having a difference of opinion.

As the TULF was unable to deliver the goods, several Tamil groups took up arms. However, these militant groups were, eventually, destroyed in internecine warfare with the LTTE, which is now split and relieved from the East.

After three decades, you have both the President and the Government from the SLFP, and the party is offering the district as the unit of devolution, as a solution to separation. In 1981, the UNP Government offered the district as a unit in the District Development Councils that were rejected. In 1987, it offered the temporarily merged North-East province as the unit. In 2000, you have the SLFP and the UNP agree on devolution to regional councils, as a possible solution. We are back to square One, with regard to a political solution that is the most distant thing, in the minds of all the parties- the Government, the LTTE and other groups including the chief Opposition UNP, which is smarting under the mass crossover of its members, after a deal was struck between the two main southern parties, to work for two years, on a bipartisan political solution to the ethnic conflict.