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'SILENCE BREAKS' by Nadarajah Kuruparan - Part 4 cont... SIVARAM AND KARUNA EPISODE

 

'SILENCE BREAKS' by Nadarajah Kuruparan - Part 4 cont...
SIVARAM  AND KARUNA EPISODE

 

When PLOTE was at its peak, Sivaram was a member of it and he was instrumental in inculcating the East-centered thoughts among its functionaries. He was also emphasizing for the cultivation of leaders from the East. On this basis, he introduced the notion of ‘East PLOTE’, but he failed in making it a reality. Because of this attempt, his friends used to tease him by calling his East dream as ‘Eastisthan’. 

With his proficiency in English and deep knowledge in Tamil literature, Sivaram exhibited the qualities of a typical intellectual. But he did not have the qualities of a fighter who works hard and reaches the higher ranks of power. 
 
Though Sivaram could have access to the PLOTE chief Umamaheswaran and its power centre in the very beginning of the 80s, he could get the confidence of the chief only at the end of 1984. He became member of the organization’s political party in the 1990s. At the end of 1999 he was the secretary of that party. 
 
As the LTTE was in the ascension and the military activities gained momentum, Sivaram started writing articles on the military engagements in English. His had good knowledge on the geography of the Eelam region as well as wide reading in military affairs, which reflected in his articles. Of course, the readers were attracted, including the top brass of the LTTE. 
 
The supremacy gained by the LTTE in the beginning of the 2000s changed the tide for many of its erstwhile critics including intellectuals, researchers and media persons. They were now attracted towards it. Sivaram was no exception. 
 
When peace prevailed after the ceasefire accord, many of those who earlier had differences with the LTTE or were in its list of the disliked (including myself) could now have the opportunity to visit Vanni and socialize with the Tigers. 
 
Having understood this new scenario, Sivaram attempted to get close to the LTTE. He knew the void in the LTTE for intellectuals with global contacts and knowledge in international affairs. With his English articles, he became familiar among the ambassadors of various countries in Sri Lanka. 
 
Sivaram had played an important role in the creation of the Tamil National Federation, through which he now facilitated for a legal voice in Colombo for the LTTE. He developed close relations with some of the Parliamentary members from the Vanni area. Many of my friends told me that with those connections, he saw to it that PLOTE was not admitted into that federation (of late he had differences with the PLOTE). 
 
Sivaram might have taken into account the deep animosity the Tigers had with the PLOTE. At one stage, through reporter Natesan, Sivaram had severely criticized Anton Balasingam. He had also severely criticized Joseph Pararajasingam, who had good proficiency in English and intellectual qualities with significant experience in media, and was respected by the Tigers. Sivaram’s aim was to alienate Pararajasingam from the Tigers. Weighing all these things, it is not difficult to infer the place which Sivaram was targeting and moving towards. 
 
As usual, Sivaram could not get the aspired position in the LTTE. Except for Balasingam, the LTTE had kept all other intellectuals at a distance. (Now it is heard that even Balasingam was kept away in the later days.) Howsoever Sivaram might have attempted, the Tigers considered nothing more of him than as a media person who supported Tamil nationalism. Sivaram expressed his discontent and irritation about this pretermission on many occasions. 
 
When Karuna left the LTTE, as an intellectual who could provide theoretical justification, Sivaram could get close to him. As I have already said, Sivaram’s articles in East Herald eulogizing Karuna could have helped in this. 
 
That Sivaram had the idea to project Karuna with a view to make him the leader of the East and to become his advisor, was revealed on another occasion. When Karuna seceded from the LTTE on March 4, 2004, many were actively involved in conciliatory efforts. While talking to me over phone, Sivaram told me that Karuna had not left the LTTE as yet and that he would plunk for Prabhakaran’s leadership if some of his conditions were met. Sivaram spelt out those conditions that were intended to be put forth to the Vanni leadership: 
  • All the activities in the East would be carried out independently under the leadership of Karuna including such matters as financial control and recruitment. 
  • Vanni should supply the arms.
  • The intelligence, police, or political wing of the LTTE should not interfere in the East. 
  • The intelligence head Pottu Amman, finance head Pukazhendhi and police head Natesan should be discharged from their posts. 
  • Karuna would report the matters of the East only to Prabhakaran. 
 
Sivaram added that statements to that effect had also been ready. 
 
When he said, ‘We try to avoid secession with certain conditions’, I could guess his role in Karuna’s power centre and his assumed position. This was equivalent to the role and position of Anton Balasingam in the LTTE. Sivaram and others had thought that the status quo at that time would make the Tigers yield to those demands. It was surprising that Karuna, who had operated under the leadership of Prabhakaran for over 20 years, and Sivaram, a military analyst with geopolitical knowledge, made those kinds of demands. These demands were simply blown away by the absolute leadership of Prabhakaran. As it happened, the LTTE leadership took strong measures against Karuna and gained upper hand. Eventually, within three days of the secession, Sivaram withdrew his support to Karuna. Some of the Tamil nationalists who stood by Sivaram followed suit. 
 
Under these conditions, Sivaram was invited by the Tigers to Vanni. Panicked by this invitation, Sivaram was in a state of obfuscation for some days. Then, in an effort to salve himself, he first went to Vavunia and struck a conciliation. Then only he went to Vanni. From there, under the auspices of the LTTE, he wrote an ireful letter to Veerakesari condemning Karuna. (Later Sivaram complained to some of his friends that the Tigers released that letter as a pamphlet even before it was published in Veerakesari and before he returned back to Batticaloa.)
 
Here arise particularly two important questions.
 
1. The demands that were put through Karuna by Sivaram and some of the important figures of the East were in protest against the Vanni-centered power in the LTTE. They were political demands seeking for distribution of power to the East. Didn’t those who made the demands know the kind of the leader (Karuna) through whom they were putting them? Or were they only concerned about their own interests?

2. Were the Tigers not aware of the political nature of the demands, in the same way as Tamilselvan had earlier only felt dissatisfied with Sivaram without examining his criticisms about the indifference shown to the East? 
 
The answer to the second question is not difficult. Because of the concept of absolute leadership among the Tigers and their failure to recognize regionalism, they were oblivious of the political dimensions of the problem. 
 
The answer to the first question as well as to the one asked in the previous episode, if Sivaram would have tried to break the LTTE in a vengeful act or he was just an instrument used by other forces, lies in the following account. 
 
An autonomous power centre in the East would mean that Sivaram could get his ambitioned position of advisor to a power centre. The social figures of the East were dreaming about parliamentary seats. Many of the senior fighters in the East were lurking for the official positions in the event of the Northern Tigers relinquishing their posts in the East to return to Vanni. As such, they all failed to see that Karuna had actually fallen into the trap of the United National Government and the Sri Lankan army. They failed to discern Karuna’s inclination to give up the life of jungle and struggle. In their self interest, they painted the differences between Karuna and the LTTE leadership with regionalism and were vigorously intensifying the conflict. They were not aware of the closeness that was developing between Karuna and the Sri Lankan government and army. Thus, as they were demanding distribution of power from the LTTE leadership, they failed to recognize the counterproductive effects of their representation on Tamil nationalism as such, which they strove for. 
 
When Karuna asked the Eastern lieutenants Dhayamohan and Janardhanan, who were stationed in Vanni, to move to the East with the 500-odd soldiers belonging to the unit of Jayanthan all by walk, the lieutenants were astonished. The reason: Karuna asked them to drop their weapons there itself and walk to the East, and if necessary to surrender to the Sri Lankan army, which would take them safely to the East. Moreover, Karuna had entrusted the task of bringing those soldiers safely with the Sri Lankan commander who is now in charge of the East. It was at that moment that many could make out the close relationship Karuna had with the Sri Lankan army. When this information was given to the LTTE intelligence head Pottu Amman by the lieutenants, the earlier plan of sending Tamilselvan to the East for negotiation with Karuna was dropped and military action against him was initiated. 
 
When the Tigers began their military action, except for some of the operatives belonging to the LTTE’s national intelligence division like Neelan, Maavai Vendhan, Sathyaseelan and Ilango, all other operatives under the command of Reginold joined with Karuna. Arputham Masra from Nelliyadi, an important operative of the LTTE, was hounded and shot to death. Neelan was also killed.  It transpired that these killings were carried out by the operatives belonging to the Karuna faction. 
 
Under these circumstances, the media persons received an invitation from Vanni for a press meet to officially announce the secession of Karuna. Many from the East, Jaffna and Colombo were present there. What happened in that meet and thereafter will follow next. 
 
-------------------------------------
 
Let me give the reader-responses as came to the Home Page and in mail.
*
Friend PT’s response to the 4th episode:
 
Dear Kuruparan,
 
Thanks for the immediate response.
 
Read the 4th episode. Saw my response published. Well. 
 
Thanks for publishing my response, despite what I had said in the last place. 
 
I have never been against self-criticism. I don’t either disagree with the opinion that lack of self-criticism is one of the reasons for our heavy losses. 
 
But that wasn’t what I came to say. I don’t support the idea of concealing the wounds. But the surgery that is intended will become valid only when it helps in developing the current status of life or in preventing further deterioration. There is a famous saying among the allopathic practitioners: ‘A good surgeon is not the one who determines what to operate, but the one who determines what not to operate’. 
 
There are some cliques or bookish leftists who say that it is the caste discrimination (not ethnic) that is the primary problem of our people. The allegation they lodge against the Tigers is that the latter did not legislate against caste discrimination. Rather I concur with the argument that more than any other rulers who made laws regarding casteism and made it a public issue, the Tigers had silently achieved many milestones in abolishing casteism. 
 
Likewise, I have this question regarding regionalism: the benefits we get by discussing about regionalism, its origin and its pseudo nature and by making it an issue again, and the benefits we get by emphasizing the need and justification for national unity (to expedite the death of the already dying regionalism) – which are significant?
 
Whatever it is, I respect your writing and your right to decide what to write. 
 
Though you had been among ‘those who earlier had differences with the LTTE or were in its list of the disliked’, as a person who really loves the nation and nationalism, your writing will definitely make us strong, I hope. Coming from the camp of Sarinikar, your thoughts and the quality of writing will ensure it, I hope. 
 
Though I haven’t elaborated in detail, I hope you understand what I come to say.
 
With love,
Friend PT
*
 
Hi Kuru,
Truth will not sleep. Justice will prevail. 
Thanks.
Brother 
Siva
*
 
Friend, 
It will be appropriate if I cast my criticism only after going through your entire serial. Thanks for your concern about the East. The East had never been under the rule of Jaffna. When it was under the rule of Kandi, it was a self-government with Tamil Muslim Vanniyanars being the leaders. You know that I had controversies with all the liberation organizations regarding the East. After Karuna’s breakaway, you released my statement in Suriyan FM that said, ‘Prabhakaran does not have people’s decree to shoot the Eastern fighters. He can ask them to return home’. If Eelam is established, it should be a federal type of government consisting of the North and the East. The Muslims may choose to co-opt themselves into this federation or decide otherwise as a separate unit. My dream is a conditional integration of the North and the East. I agree with Sivaram in that no liberation organization in the past had complete grasp or equitable thought regarding the East. 
 
Anonymous
 
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