Two years after the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by the Sri Lankan Army, there are more questions than answers. Since the prime figure in the civil war, LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, was killed in the final stages of the war in mid-2009, sources of information on what the LTTE was all about, and what happened in various stages of the war, have dried up.
Reason: most of the information is either with the Sri Lanka Army and intelligence agencies or second-rung LTTE leaders who are now dispersed. The former have maintained a tight lid on information in view of the allegations of human rights abuses against the army.
Now, for the first time in years, there is a voice from inside that is willing to speak: Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP for short), former head of the LTTE’s arms procurement department, who was captured by the Sri Lankans in August 2009, spoke to VK Shashikumar of Mediagrove, a Firstpost partner. In his first-ever recorded video interview, Shashikumar finds KP in a penitent mood, having seen decades of struggle producing nothing but pain for the Tamil people on whose behalf the civil war was waged. He speaks out strongly against Tamil diaspora groups that are still trying to rebuild the LTTE’s case and war machine.
Later today, you will get answers to the following questions on Firstpost and CNN-IBN:
• Who trained the Tamil militants in India and what went wrong with the strategy
• Why the LTTE developed an antipathy to Rajiv Gandhi, and its roots in Dravidian politics
• How Tamil politicians fished in the troubled waters of Eelam for their own narrow reasons
• How the personality of Prabhakaran and obsession with Eelam moulded the Tamil struggle for a separate state
• How the UN and a western country offered to rescue LTTE leaders in May 2009 – and why it was too late.
A controversial figure among both diaspora groups and the Sri Lankans, KP has been the subject of a recent demand by a group of Sri Lankan MPs who have asked for a probe into his arrest and detention.
KP is the man who helped find the money and arms to create the LTTE’s war machine. Born Shanmugam Kumaran Tharmalingam on 6 April 1955 in Jaffna’s Kankesanthurai town, KP speaks four languages (Tamil, Sinhalese, English and French, though his English is staccato). His role as the LTTE”s chief arms procurer made him a contributing factor to building the killing machine known as the LTTE.
News reports quoting Sri Lankan defence ministry sources say KP lost his hold with the LTTE cadres when he confirmed the death of Prabhakaran after his capture in 2009. Some Tamil diaspora groups also wonder if he has been turned into a Lankan mouthpiece in captivity.
Whatever the truth, KP has been a key source of information for international agencies on the LTTE’s global network of arm dealers and finance. The Sri Lankans presumably are using his help to locate all of the LTTE’s fund sources, bank accounts and assets.
In the upcoming Mediagrove interview accessed by Firstpost, viewers will see KP in old age. The only other picture of him (which is on the internet) is of him as a young man with a bright moustache…: KP has, thus far, given only telephonic interviews. So this is, in fact, his first real interview.
A Firstpost-CNN-IBN Exclusive