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The Collapse of Sivaram’s Dream and Karuna’s Submission to the Military Agenda - 'SILENCE BREAKS'

 

'SILENCE BREAKS' - Part 5 - By Nadarajah Kuruparan

The Collapse of Sivaram’s Dream and Karuna’s Submission to the Military Agenda - 'SILENCE BREAKS'

 

 
First I would like to furnish my response to some important critical remarks on ‘The Breakaway of the East, Karuna and Taraki’. Some friends have said that I seem to have broken my silence only to attack / expose an individual viz. Sivaram. 
 
Those who have been going through this serial studiously would know that this is not to sling mud at any individual. Moreover, in the three years of our performance in the media nothing of the kind of slandering or mudding has occurred. 
 
Sivaram was murdered in 2005, after some years of Karuna’s secession from the LTTE. What I am writing now is about the previous period. However, I am obliged to explain in a responsible manner. Let me start from the time of Karuna’s secession and move to 2005. 
 
In the previous episodes I have said about Sivaram’s role, contribution and expectations in the breakaway of Karuna. It must be stated here that the conflict between Sivaram and Karuna was also one of the reasons for the murder of the former. 
 
Sivaram had expected that Karuna would act according to his advice. But Karuna’s action was contrary to the expectations of Sivaram as well as of other intellectuals belonging to the East who supported him. 
 
Even at the early stage of the peace talks (the second round), close relationship between Karuna and the rulers, particularly the then commander of the East, Santha Kothagoda, had started to develop. As a result, Karuna began to act according to their agenda. His childhood friend Alisakir Moulana also helped in the development of this close association. Thus, the news of Karuna’s breakaway appeared in the English and international media on the basis of information oozed out by the government and military sources, before it was officially announced. 
 
Once the breakaway was confirmed, as arranged by the Ranil’s government, a woman journalist by the name of Sima was taken in a special flight to Batticaloa. This woman stayed there for three days and for those three days she became the decider of Karuna’s public statements and interviews. This gave great disappointment to Sivaram and piqued him (I hope none of Sivaram’s close friends would deny this.)
 
That woman, who thus became Karuna’s ‘spokesperson’, had already participated in the peace talks as a journalist and had become close to Karuna. I also remember some of the Sinhala journalists saying that this woman was a close friend of Santha Kothagoda. How close she was with the rulers can be explicated with the following incident. 
 
The fifth round of peace talks was held in Geneva. A press meet had been arranged at the end of the talks. Until then, there was a cordon for the representatives of both the sides so that press people could not approach them. We were all waiting outside the cordon. Sima was also there standing with us. When the officer of the peace secretariat Mr. Palith Koganna appeared, Sima called him by his first name. He immediately went to her saying, ‘Hi Sima, come in’, and took her into the cordon. This incident irritated the other journalists including the international media. It was this person who became close to Karuna and naturally it should have signaled to Sivaram as to which direction Karuna was moving. 
 
Further, Sivaram also observed that the demands put before the Tigers by Karuna on his advice did not work and that the Tigers were gaining upper hand. I have already mentioned in the earlier episodes how Sivaram got a stern invitation to Vanni, how he was scared, how he went to Vanni and surrendered to the Tigers and how he started writing articles condemning Karuna’s breakaway.
 
Those who were close to Karuna had said about his anger on Sivaram. The way Sivaram rendered his support at the early stage and the way he changed his stand within a short time had infuriated Karuna to say, ‘…….. (bawdy word), showed his color’. (If my statement is wrong, the concerned people can deny). Karuna’s anger on Sivaram was also a reason for the counting of Sivaram’s days. (However, there were many parties behind Sivaram’s murder.)
 
I knew Sivaram right from 1984 when I joined PLOTE. There he was called dearly as ‘S.R.’ I have participated in many of the political workshops conducted by him. From that period to the time before few days of his death, I had contact and discussions with him. Those who know both Sivaram and me know this. 
 
Moreover, I had a dream just a few days before his death. It was about Sivaram. There are different beliefs about dreams in religion as well as science. I don’t have deep knowledge about it. But some dreams used to leave deep imprints in our memories. The next day, after discharging the 6.45 a.m. news at Suriyan FM, I rang to Sivaram and told him about my dream.  I had dreamt that he was kidnapped by some people and killed and that I immediately rushed to the spot where his wife and children lamented about his death to me. I warned him to be careful. 
 
On the night when Sivaram was kidnapped, between 9.30 and 10.00, a friend of mine told me about the kidnapping and I immediately aired it in our radio. Further, I was trying throughout the night to know his whereabouts by contacting many of my political acquaintances. My efforts did not pay. But our mutual friends knew the kind of agony I had at that time. At last, a friend of mine contacted me the next day through cell phone and informed that a dead body was found in a bush near the Patharamullai Mativala parliamentary housing area and added that it was rumored to be Sivaram’s. I immediately contacted my friend Sivakumar and we together with another friend Somitharan went to that spot in my vehicle. We were among the few who visited the spot first. Already present were Sivaram’s friend Ajith Samaranayaka and a few others. The state intelligence people were also there. We as his friends were also put in an unfortunate situation of identifying the dead body. Sivaram’s wife was brought there along with their daughter. As soon as she got off the vehicle she cried, ‘Guru, when he told me about your dream, I asked him to be careful. But he did not listen. See what has happened now!’ This was the kind of relationship I had had with the man called Sivaram. But a review of the political trend of a particular period is different. I am clear about this. My evaluation of his intellect is different from that of his political stand. 
 
Having chosen to break my silence to register my experiences and learnings from the three decade long war life, I understand with pain that it will make things uncomfortable for many. But beyond the discomforts of certain individuals, it is necessary that everyone break one’s silence to assuage the wounds of the entire ethnic group. Thus, while breaking my silence I will speak in a responsible manner about Sivaram’s murder, its background and those who were involved in it. 
 
If anybody feels that my serial ‘purposefully’ hurts somebody, please let me know.
 
The responses of some friends show that there were some errors in the previous episode regarding the time line of the internal conflicts among the Tigers just before the official breakaway of Karuna. There are two reasons for such errors. First, I had not thought of making notes of my experiences in the past. It would have been a great risk to keep them safely from the many powers whenever I happened to move places. When the days were such that it was a great difficulty to safeguard one’s person, it was not thinkable to write notes and keep them safely. Hence I buried things deep into my mind with the hope that they would be safe there. Further, I did not expect that I would have to write my experiences later. Now when I dig my memories some errors happen in the chronological order. Whatever you know as errors please write about them or mail to me. I will publish it referring your name. 
 
Many months before the official announcement of Karuna’s secession, the signals of secession began to be noticed in the East on many occasions. It showed itself even before the ceasefire, particularly in the mid of 2000. 
 
An important incident should be mentioned here. It was known in the media circle that the order to kill the former parliamentary member Nimalan Soundaranayakam was issued by Karuna. The reason attributed was that Nimalan was asked to appoint a Tiger as his chauffeur, which he turned down. But information came later that it was not true. Nimalan had close contact with the intelligence head Pottu Amman and he refused to take orders from Karuna. Infuriated by this, Karuan ordered to kill Nimalan. (If there is some other dimension to this incident, those who were in the know could point it out.)
 
Following this, in the end of 2002 itself there occurred a big division in the LTTE. This division occurred among the intelligence operatives of the LTTE in the East region. They came to be referred as Vanni operatives and East operatives. Even many of the higher ranks of the LTTE intelligence did not know about this division. 
 
It was a known fact that there was a very tight and secret intelligence wing in the LTTE operating at the national level under the control of Pottu Amman. Even before Karuna broke away from the LTTE, the intelligence unit of Batticaloa-Amparai under Reginold broke away from the control of Pottu Amman and joined with Karuna. This division happened because of the differences occurred or purposively made with Pottu Amman. Some sixty intelligence Tigers belonging to the East left the national intelligence and opted to operate under the direct control of Karuna. Only a few, such as Keerthi, Neelan, Mavendhan, Sathyaseelan and Ilango, remained with the national intelligence division. Those who joined with Karuna were later allowed to function as the administrative division of Batticaloa-Amparai. 
 
Under these circumstances, at the beginning of 2003 Arputhan Master, who was from Nelliyadi and was Pottu Amman’s direct representative in the East, lost his leg in a landmine attack. First it was said that the attack was carried out by the Deep Penetration Force of the Sri Lankan army. But later it transpired that the attack was made by those belonging to the Karuna group. This marked the beginning of the open confrontation between Karuna and the Tigers. 
 
Thus, the breakaway of the East operatives from the national intelligence wing of the LTTE and the attack on Arputhan Master were only the smokes signaling the coming eruption of dormant embers of conflict a year later - that was Karuna’s secession. (In my fourth episode, these incidents were mentioned as having happened after Karuna’s secession.)
 
 
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