Unilateral declaration of Eelam

Sri Lanka: The Untold Story, Chapter 42
Unilateral declaration of Eelam

by KT Rajasingham, ‘Asian Times,’ Singapore, 2002

Chapter 1

Chapter 41

Viswanath Pratab Singh, the new prime minister of India and leader of the five-party National Front coalition government, announced the withdrawal of the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) from Sri Lanka, by March 31, 1990. This was his major foreign policy decision, largely to prove that everything the preceding premier, Rajiv Gandhi, had done in domestic and foreign policy was wrong.

Singh said, “In the first place, it was a mistake to have sent our troops to Sri Lanka. The whole affair started on a wrong note. We favor phased withdrawal of the IPKF. We want our boys back home the earliest.”

The victory of Singh was also considered a great victory for Ranasinghe Premadasa, the Sri Lankan president. V P Singh appointed Inder Kumar Gujral as Minister of External Affairs and Hari Kishore Singh as the Minister of State for External Affairs. The prime minister himself held the defense portfolio, and appointed Dr Raja Ramanna as Minister of State for Defense.

Ranjan Wijeratne, the Sri Lankan Minister for Foreign Affairs, was the first foreign dignitary to rush to New Delhi to meet the new Indian leadership, where he discussed the role played by the IPKF. V P Singh and I K Gujral expressed surprise, when the foreign minister reported that the IPKF was subverting Sri Lanka by arming and training an illegal army.

After this, the Indian premier requested M Karunanidhi, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, to explore the possibility of solving the Sri Lankan conflict. Meanwhile, after meeting the new leaders in New Delhi, Wijeratne visited Madras and met M Karunanidhi. The Sri Lankan foreign minister requested him to use his influence to bring about peace between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and other Tamil militant groups. Karunanidhi agreed.

As the IPKF would be withdrawing completely from Sri Lanka by March 31, 1990, Indian government leaders were keen on obtaining an assurance from all the Tamil groups in Sri Lanka that they would not fight among themselves. All those Tamil groups that had worked with India against the LTTE sensed very clearly that, the government of V P Singh was bent on betraying them, and Karunanidhi, who is considered a patron of the LTTE, would be highly impartial against them.

In the meantime, it was reported that Varatharajah Perumal, the Chief Minister of the North-East Provincial Government, rushed to New Delhi for a meeting with the new prime minister, as he was panicked by the election results. Perumal pleaded with the new Indian leaders not to withdraw the Indian Army from Sri Lanka. Singh, who was interested in adopting a good neighborly relationship with Sri Lanka and who declared himself non-interventionist, resolutely rejected the request. Perumal then hurried to Madras and requested Karunanidhi to help him protect his North East-Provincial government. Perumal urged Karunanidhi to mediate and work out a settlement acceptable to all parties. The Tamil Nadu chief minister told Perumal to negotiate with the LTTE and to enter into an agreement to hand over the administration to the LTTE.

Accordingly, the Tamil Nadu chief minister, in line with the mandate provided by the new Indian prime minister, contacted Anton Balasingham, the ideologue, who was leading an LTTE delegation in Colombo, to visit Madras, immediately. On December 15 and 16, 1989, Karunanidhi held discussions with Balasingham and Yogaratnam Yogi of the political wing of the LTTE. On December 17, at a press conference in Madras, Balasingham said that the LTTE would contest the North-East Provincial Council if polls were held in the near future. Balasingham said that the LTTE had registered its own political party in Sri Lanka. He added that his leader, Velupillai Prabakaran, was ready to stand in the election. He further said, “LTTE alone can provide safety and security to the Tamil people in the island and therefore, the question of laying down arms does not arise at this juncture.” He also said, “The 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka accord is already dead and the LTTE urges the withdrawal of the IPKF from the shores of Sri Lanka, as early as possible.” Balasingham categorically emphasized, “LTTE has not given up its goal of Eelam.”

According to Adele Balasingham in her The Will to Freedom, the LTTE version of the meeting of Anton Balasingham with Karunanidhi is as follows:

“Bala received an urgent telephone call from the hotel room [Hilton Hotel, Colombo] from the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Mr Karunanidhi – who Bala had known personally during our stay in Tamil Nadu – urging him to come to Chennai [Madras] as soon as possible. He did not disclose what the matter was but only hinted that it was very urgent and important. Bala could not refuse the request from the powerful chief minister of Tamil Nadu and agreed to go. Having obtained permission from Mr Pirabakaran and Mr Premadasa, Bala, myself and Yogi flew to Chennai within a couple of days.

“In Chennai, we were accommodated at the Port Trust Guest House, amidst tight security. The chief minister and his nephew Mr Murasoli Maran, visited us three times during our stay. Mr Karunanidhi enquired whether or not the LTTE would share power with EPRLF, if the Northeastern Provincial Council was prepared to offer half the seats of the council, paving the way for equal participation of the Tigers in the Northeastern Provincial administration. Bala explained to the chief minister that the LTTE was prepared to face fresh elections and it should be the people of the Tamil Eelam who had to choose their representatives. He gave a detailed picture to Mr Karunanidhi about the brutal crimes committed against the Tamil people by the armed cadres of the EPRLF, in collusion with the Indian occupation army. Perumal’s administration, Bala argued, was despised by the Eelam Tamils for its misdeeds.

“EPRLF assumed power through fraudulent elections and functioned as a puppet regime of the IPKF. Because of the intolerable atrocities committed by the Indian Army and the EPRLF’s paramilitaries, the Tamils wanted the Tigers to assume power. If fresh elections were held in the Tamil homeland, Bala convinced the Tamil Nadu chief minister the LTTE would sweep to power. Mr Karunanidhi finally endorsed LTTE’s position and did not press for a joint administration. During the meeting, Bala also gave a detailed assessment of the situation in the Northeast. Mr Karunanidhi looked deeply perturbed. Apart from closed-door meetings with the chief minister, we also met several LTTE supporters and Tamil Nadu leaders such as Vaiko [Mr Gopalasmy] and Mr Veeramany. A press conference was held before we left Chennai at the end of our five-day visit.” – pages 252–253

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu chief minister met V P Singh and briefed him the discussions he had had with the LTTE delegation in Madras. The EROS member of parliament Edward Sebestainpillai proposed tripartite talks between India, Sri Lanka and Tamil groups. But the suggestion was not taken up.

The Jain Commission in its report, Chapter 18, expressed, “Reactions of the LTTE after Shri V P Singh became the prime minister of India”:

“50: The parleys between Shri M Karunanidhi and the LTTE under instructions from Shri V P Singh, it appears, encouraged the LTTE to operate in India freely as they perceived the new political dispensation to be totally sympathetic to them. The views of the LTTE can be discerned from the articles published in their propaganda organs. These propaganda journals were found to be openly being distributed in Tamil Nadu. The LTTE, in their propaganda articles, blamed the policies of Shri Rajiv Gandhi and condemned the role of R&AW [India’s Research and Analysis Wing] during the period Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister. The LTTE congratulated Shri V P Singh on his becoming the prime minister. The LTTE, it appears, perceived the prevailing political climate in India both at the Central level, as well as in Tamil Nadu to be conducive to them.

“The following report of the Intelligence Bureau dated March 7, 1990, when Shri V P Singh completed more than three months as the prime mMinister of India, speaks about the articles published in an LTTE propaganda journal captioned ‘Voice of Tigers’, dated January, 1990: 2: An article opined that with the emergence of the National Front government in India, under the leadership of V P Singh, a significant new and positive development has emerged in the relationship between the LTTE and the New Delhi administration. It stated that LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran had sent a congratulatory message to the new Indian prime minister and responding positively to LTTE’s conciliatory approach, the new Indian chief minister of Tamilnadu, the responsibility of talking to the LTTE to seek ways and means to restore peace and normalcy in Tamil Eelam. It also reported the four rounds of talks held by the LTTE delegates with the chief minister of Tamil Nadu during mid-December 1989, at Madras.

“The bulletin also carried the LTTE appeal to V P Singh to release Tamil political prisoners and LTTE cadres who are still in custody of IPKF and also the observance of Heroes day by LTTE in Amparai District … It also published a box column carrying a news item appeared in The Australian dated 04.01.1990 regarding the TNA and CVF. The editorial stated that ‘the defunct EPRLF’s Provincial Council, disintegration of the TNA and the emergence of the LTTE as the most dominant politico-military power in the North and Eastern Provinces signaled the final collapse of the disastrous policy enunciated by the former Rajiv government. The editorial condemned RAW for wrongly guiding the Indian administration.’”

Balasingham continued to attack the Provincial Council administration of Varatharajah Perumal as illegal and undemocratic. The LTTE demanded that the EPRLF provincial administration be dismissed and the TNA be disbanded. The war in the North and East has almost come to an end. The Indian army had ceased its campaign and the withdrawal process was accelerated to catch up with the schedule, set for the end of March 1990.

On January 20, 1990, Madhivadani, the wife of Tiger supremo Prabakaran, flew into Katunayake airport from Singapore. She was accompanied by Anton Balasingham and his wife Adele, who had left for Singapore two weeks prior to Madhivadani’s arrival. According to reports, she returned to Colombo after being six years in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was further said that she frequently visited Prabakaran when he was in Madras, but it was added that it was Prabakaran who decided to keep his wife as a refugee in a European country and it would be safer for her to be far away from the theatre of war. She travelled on a Sri Lankan passport, issued by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Sweden. She was accompanied by her daughter – Dwaraka (two and a half years) and her son – Charles Anthony (five years). Madhivadani and her children were kept overnight at an Aviation Authority bungalow and on the following day flown by a Sri Lankan air force helicopter to Nettikulam jungle in the Vanni area for a reunion of the Prabakaran family.

Madhivadhani was accompanied by Kumaran, the head of the LTTE’s international committee, who handled the procurement of arms for the LTTE. K Pathmanababha, alias KP, alias T S Kumaran, a Prabakaran confidant, headed the shadowy international financial wing of the LTTE. The reclusive KP, is the head of the international arms procurement for the LTTE. His arrival in Sri Lanka, along with Madhivadhani foreboded a forthcoming international operation, in the near future.

“The V P Singh-I K Gujral orientation towards Sri Lanka was formal and woodenly correct. The main elements of the policy were: India had been wrong in getting involved in the ethnic crisis of Sri Lanka; the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement conceived by Rajiv Gandhi and Jayewardene was an ill-prepared effort, which resulted in a misunderstanding between India and Sri Lanka; sending the IPKF to Sri Lanka was interference in the country’s internal affairs; this situation has been remedied by India completely withdrawing from Sri Lankan affairs and withdrawal of the IPKF. The Sri Lankan government should deal with its Tamil problem as an internal affair in which India would not take any interest. The continuation of the internal conflict in Sri Lanka or support for the LTTE from Tamil Nadu are matters which will be dealt with through normal diplomatic channels.” Assignment Colombo by J N Dixit, page 294

On January 30, 1990, Dr K H V Padmanabhan, senior additional director of the Intelligence Bureau, Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, circulated a top-secret report on the Sri Lankan Tamil Issue – the impact on Tamil Nadu.

“With the deadline set for the de-induction of the IPKF by March 31, 1990, and little prospect of agreement among the Eelam groups over the issue of laying down the arms causing apprehensions of civil disorder. The rate of refugee influx into Tamil Nadu has been steadily on the rise with 179 arrivals from the island in October 1989, 250 in November and 1,057 in December. 477 refugee families consisting of 834 members mostly from Talaimannar and Jaffna areas have reached Tamil Nadu this year, so far. Official figures confirm the presence of 1,007 Sri Lankan Tamil families consisting of 2,314 members at Mandapam refugee camp (Ramnad District). There is reason for further concern with reports that another 4,000 Tamil families have been converging at the northern port of Kankesanthurai [Sri Lanka], on their way to Tamil Nadu.

“2. While no large scale movement of non-LTTE cadres from Sri Lanka to Tamil Nadu has been noticed, small groups of EPRLF, ENDLF and TELO fleeing from attacks of LTTE, have landed in Tamil Nadu, during January 1990. Some ENDLF cadres [88] had got themselves registered also at Mandapam refugee camp. Some of the groups like ENDLF have transferred their weapons to Tamil Nadu for future use against their adversaries. On January 20, one such arms cache with 88 AK-47 assault rifles, 64 9mm pistols, 40 LMGs and large quantities of ammunition and other spares were unearthed in the coastal area of Ramanathapuram district under P S Uchipuli. Again, on January 25, the night, the Rameswaram police (Pamban P S) had effected some more recovery of ammunition. Earlier, on January 23, the Tamil Nadu CID recovered a highly sophisticated powerful Japanese-made transreceiver set with automatic tuner antenna, from a private house hired by ENDLF cadres, in Tangachimadam [Ramanad District].

“3. Meanwhile, the LTTE has been taking full advantage of the sympathetic attitude of the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu. A noticeable spurt in LTTE activities is seen coinciding with the initiative taken by the chief mMinister of Tamil Nadu, in resolving the ethnic issue and holding parleys with the LTTE leadership [A Balasingham and Yogi]. Suggestions that all Tamil groups including LTTE should lay down arms and sit together for talks to reach a consensus have not been reportedly relished by the LTTE leaders. Meanwhile, the LTTE militant wing has stepped up its clandestine activities in the state. The LTTE is now maintaining tri-weekly illicit boat traffic between Valvetitturai [Jaffna district of Sri Lanka] and Mallipattanam [Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu]. The traffic involves transport of medicine, foodstuffs, arms/ammunition. Besides, wounded persons are also brought to Tamil Nadu from time to time for treatment. The group has also re-established its transit camp at Chinnamanai [Thanjavur district] which was dismantled in October 1987, in the wake of hostilities between the IPKF and LTTE in Sri Lanka.

“4. The local DMK leaders in the coastal regions of Thanjavur have also been collaborating with the LTTE in its illegal traffic in the hinterland. There is also a move on the part of the LTTE to open a regular office for its political wing, the People’s Liberation Front for Eelam Tamils (PFLT). In Tamil Nadu with the blessings of its patron V Gopalaswamy, MP (DMK), and the chief minister. While the state police are under constraints to act firmly against the LTTE’s illegal activities, the customs personnel in the state are a demoralized lot after the abduction of a customs patrol in December last and their subsequent release at the intervention of the DMK higher ups with the LTTE. The LTTE have revived its unit for the manufacture of rocket-propelled grenades at Coimbatore and called for 2,000 such grenades a week ago reportedly for use against the IPKF engaged in de-induction. The presence of the fabrication unit came to notice in August 1989, when the police raided a workshop at Coimbatore manufacturing components for RPG and arrested four local collaborators including a prominent DMK leader.

“5. In the ongoing parleys with the Tamil Nadu chief minister, the representatives of the non-LTTE groups have felt unhappy at his pro-LTTE instance and have approached other parties like the TNCC-I, AIADMK and others to urge the government of India to convene a meeting of all Eelam groups. Speaking at Madras on January 24, Rajiv Gandhi insinuated that Karunanidhi, while professing to be champion of Tamil rights, had abandoned Tamil interests in Sri Lanka. He welcomed the idea of all party meetings to decide the Sri Lankan Tamil issue. Sgd: Dr K V H Padmanabhan – Sr Additional Director.”

Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, Varatharajah Perumal witnessed with alarm the ongoing developments. Once RAW stopped arms supplies to the TNA, it was the beginning of the doom of the TNA. Hundreds of TNA and CVF cadres had started deserting since September 1989, as they were routed in fights with the LTTE and the Sri Lankan security forces, separately and jointly. The LTTE mounted renewed attacks on the remaining TNA and CVF cadres in the Northeast, often cutting off all escape routes. Many TNA members were caught and butchered, and many summarily executed. Hundreds of TNA cadres surrendered to the LTTE. Many threw away their weapons and removed their uniforms and ran for their lives.

The chief minister of the North-East Provincial government was reduced to being a silent spectator, as the LTTE took control of areas vacated by the IPKF. The LTTE opened up offices in all the recaptured areas and held public rallies and vowed that they would continue with their fight for their Eelam. Meanwhile, Varatharajah Perumal adamantly refused to dissolve the NEP government, as appealed by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, and also by the Sri Lankan Minister Ranjan Wijeratne. “Indian army engineers dismantled a 100-meter-long dish antenna tower constructed behind Trincomalee’s Seven Island Hotel, which was an important RAW base. The tower had been erected without Colombo’s permission to beam Indian television programs in the northeast from January 15. After the Congress party’s defeat, RAW men took back all the equipment, leaving behind the tower’s concrete foundation as a grim reminder of Gandhi’s grandiose plan.” Tigers of Lanka: From Boys to Guerrillas by M R Narayan Swamy – page 311

Earlier, the PLOT, TELO and ENDLF have begun to grill Pathmanabah, the secretary general of the EPRLF, about the massive financial and material assistance provided by the Indian government. Pathmanabah directed them to contact the NEPG Chief Minister Varatharajah Perumal for all those details. The chief minister said that he was only answerable to the Indian government on those issues. Leaders of the other Tamil militant groups walked out in protest. All of a sudden, on the very next day Pathmanabah, announced that, the Tamil National Congress (TNC) which was formed jointly by EPRLF, ENDLF, TELO and PLOTE to coordinate actions for security, was being disbanded. Crestfallen, Varatharajah Perumalany traveled to India on January and met the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi. He told Karunanidhi, “It was the duty and responsibility of the Indian government at this stage to guarantee the future security of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and ensure the devolution of powers. The Indian government’s responsibility does not end with sending the IPKF to Sri Lanka and saving Sri Lanka’s integrity.” After the meeting, Perumal at press conference told, “We have full confidence that Mr Karunanidhi would act like an elder brother of the Tamils and would render justice.”

He added, “EPRLF had sacrificed over 600 of its leading members for the establishment of this provincial government. We gradually institutionalized the provincial government in the midst of all obstacles placed by the Sri Lankan government, the inhuman and violent opposition of the LTTE and the adverse propaganda of the EROS. We wish to point out some sinister motives of the Sri Lankan government of the UNP, which has often been talking out-of-turn, about the North-East Provincial Council.”

He reached New Delhi to appeal to V P Singh not to jettison the North East Provincial government. Unfortunately, Singh and his government had little time for Perumal, or even for the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement. The NEP government became almost non-existent, roughly since December 1989, when the Indian High Commission in Colombo withdrew its political and moral support for the North-East chief minister. As New Delhi had already decided to wash its hands of the EPRLF-led North-East Provincial government the much sought after meeting with V P Singh never materialized. Perumal met External Affairs Ministry officials and requested that the IPKF should stay in Sri Lanka, but they dismissed the request as it was an internal problem of Sri Lanka and it had to be resolved in Sri Lanka.

Indian External Affairs Minister I K Gujaral met Perumal. The Indian minister said firmly that Indian troops would be back in India before the revised deadline of March 31, 1990. The chief minister pleaded that that LTTE’s seizure of the Northeastern region would spell danger for India. Gujaral listened patiently and said, “See peace is returning there. When we pull out, it will all be peaceful.” Perumal was aghast and said, “Sir, if you ask a small child, that child would say that the fighting would again resume in the northeast once the IPKF leaves the shores of Sri Lanka.” Gujaral asked Varatharaja Perumal, “What do you want me to do?”

The chief minister was astonished at the question. He said, “Sir, I am a foreigner. I have told you the situation, the problems. How can I say Sir, what you should do?” Gujaral smiled at the reply and clasped the chief minister’s hand and said, “You are a friend of India. We will never betray you.”

Meanwhile, in February 1990, the Tamil Nadu chief minister, who had already had the first round of talks with Ranjan Wijeratne, Varatharaja Perumal, Anton Balasingham and Yogaratnam Yogi, announced that, he was going to work out a package deal for peace in the North-East and transfer of powers to the people. Anton Balasingham and Yogaratnam Yogi of the LTTE, met Karunanidhi followed by V Balakumar, the general secretary of the EROS and the representatives of TELO, ENDLF, PLOTE and EPRLF.

The EPRLF delegation consisted of Abbo Yousuf and Shanthan and they met Karunanidhi in Madras. Karunanidhi asked Abbo Yousuf, discourteously “Avan Enge? [Where is he?] referring to Perumal. Abbo Yousuf said that he represented the North East chief minister. Karunanidhi approached the issue with his usual lack of diplomacy and lashed out at Perumal. He made a character assassination by stating, “Someone who once used to beg in Madras.” He further demanded that Perumal should be reached on the telephone.

The North-East chief minister was equally insistent that Karunanidhi should speak with his emissaries. He said over the telephone from Trincomalee, “I am the chief minister of Sri Lanka’s North-Eastern Provincial government and I can only be summoned by the president of Sri Lanka and not by the chief minister of Tamil Nadu.” When this message was conveyed to Karunanidhi, he raged with anger and told the EPRLF delegates to dissolve the NEPG. Abbo Yousuf told Karunanidhi that it could not be done. Karunanidhi told that he was appealing as leader of the World Tamils. Immediately the two EPRLF delegates told Karunanidhi that they did not want to be humiliated any further by the Tamil Nadu chief minister and stood up to leave. The livid and irascible Karunanidhi warned that he would not allow Perumal get political asylum in India. In the meantime, Murosoli Maran, the nephew of Karunanidhi, who was also ministering in the V P Singh’s cabinet, and who was seated next to Karunanidhi, told him sarcastically, “We will pack him off to the Andaman Islands.”

It was a known secret that Karunanidhi’s sympathy lay with the LTTE, and he requested the members of the North-East Provincial Council to resign from it and conduct elections with the participation of the People’s Front of Liberation Tigers (PFLT), the political party of the LTTE. It became clear that the Tamil Nadu chief minister and his party leaders and supporters had ganged up with the LTTE and opposed the pro-IPKF Tamil groups, such as TELO, PLOTE, ENDLF and EPRLF.

Also, the vindictive Chief Minister Karunanidhi ordered a crackdown against pro-Indian Tamil militants in Tamil Nadu. As stated in the confidential report of the Senior Additional Director of the IB, Dr K V H Pathmanabhan, consequent to the order to crack down on all anti-LTTE Tamil militants, Tamil Nadu police seized a powerful radio transmitter with a 75-kilometre range from a house at Thangachi Madam in Rameswaram, which was occupied by a Tamil militant group favoured by the RAW. When referring to RAW operations in Sri Lanka, the irritated Karunanidhi said, “Though the government in the centre has changed, the attitude of the government officials remained unchanged.”

On India’s Republic day, January 26, 1990, the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo, L L Mehrotra, referred to the IPKF as follows, “Having discharged its responsibility with considerable sacrifice over a period of two years, the IPKF recommenced de-inductions in the context of Joint Communique of July 28 and September 18, 1989 and subsequent discussions between our governments in December 1989 and January 1990, in New Delhi. The IPKF does so at time when all Tamil militant groups have entered the political mainstream or have undertaken to do so, when all efforts are being made to bring about a ceasefire among them. The process of de-induction is proposed to be completed by March 31, 1990, as stated by the external affairs minister, in the Indian parliament, recently.”

As the date of the withdrawal of the Indian armed forces came nearer, the relationship with the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE outwardly seemed strengthened. Premadasa’s government provided all the logistical facilities needed to the LTTE leadership. The peace talks between the LTTE and the government continued. The talks were confined to private sessions with Premadasa. As the LTTE had already committed itself to participate in the provincial elections, the issues that were discussed at the private sessions with the president were the repeal of the sixth amendment to the constitution and the dissolution of the Provincial government controlled by Varatharajah Perumal. It was said that these two issues had become a bone of contention between the LTTE and Premadasa’s regime.

The sixth amendment to the 1978 constitution was introduced by J R Jayewardene in the aftermath of the 1983 holocaust to placate the Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinist extremists. According to this draconian law, anyone who advocated or encouraged separation and called for a separate state of Tamil Eelam would be liable for serious punishment, including the loss of civil rights and forfeiture of the properties of those who advocates secessionist politics.

Tigers categorically made it known to A S Hameed, the leader of the government delegation, as well as to the Sri Lankan president, that the LTTE under no circumstances would swear allegiance to the unitary state of Sri Lanka and the sixth amendment to the constitution was very oppressive and stifled the political choice and free expression of an individual. They made it clear that the LTTE was firmly committed to the principle of self-determination, legally a birthright to which Tamils were entitled to.

According to Adele Balasingham, “The two issues raised by the LTTE had brought the talks to an impasse, but neither of the party was inclined to take a confrontationist course. The relationship between the LTTE and Premadasa’s administration was warm and friendly. Mr Hameed ensured that nothing happened between the protagonists that would endanger the newly formed relationship that had been built up with patience and indefatigable effort.” The Will to Freedom – page 254

Bradman Weerakoon, in his Premadasa of Sri Lanka: A Political Biography writes, “Premadasa felt he understood Prabakaran’s motivations and his determination to achieve something for his people, albeit by terror and violent means. He believed that talking to him face to face would have convinced Prabakaran of his sincerity in solving the ethnic problem with justice to all. He felt that the personal chemistry which build trust would manifest itself at such a meeting. He regretted that this had not happened, especially after the breakdown in relations which occurred in June 1990.

“Premadasa’s determination and persistent efforts to get the IPKF to withdraw in 1989 and the final de-induction of the troops in March 1990 convinced the LTTE of Premadasa’s concern to safeguard the integrity and sovereignty of the country. On the question of ‘the separate state’ itself, the attitude of the LTTE during the talks had been that their striving for that objective would be dependent on the performance and sincerity showed by the government in moving forward with political measures which had been discussed. These centred around the repeal of the sixth amendment to the constitution (which decreed that all MPs should take an oath to safeguard the unity, integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka and eschew the promotion of separatism) and the dissolution of the North-East Provincial Council (NEPC) so that the LTTE could contest and become representative of the people of the North-East. The LTTE held that the EPRLF had only been able to obtain a majority of seats in the NEPC because the elections had been conducted while the IPKF was in control of the North and East.” – pages 68-69

Meanwhile, the LTTE political wing – the People Front of Liberation Tigers (PFLT) – began to extend its party structure in the Eastern province. The inaugural conference of the PFLT was held at Vaharai in the Batticaloa district between February 24 and March 1, 1990. Anton Balasingham, Mahataya, Yogratnam Yogi, Paramu Murthy and a host of other Tiger leaders travelled to Batticaloa, in Sri Lankan Air Force helicopter, provided by Ranasinghe Premadasa, the Sri Lankan president. Also, numerous senior LTTE leaders, men and women from other parts of the country were flown to the conference by the Air Force helicopter, where they assembled at the Vaharai Guest House. The conference lasted for nearly one week. The party organizers from throughout the North East formerly ratified the PFLT constitution and the manifesto. Nearly 15,000 people participated in this conference where it was agreed to mobilize people’s political participation in the PLFT and also to set up party branches in all villages and up to district levels in all the provinces.

The conference resolved:

  • The undemocratically installed and inactive North-East Provincial Council to be dissolved and fresh elections be held.
  • Urged for the repeal of the sixth amendment to the 1978 constitution.
  • The conference urged to uphold the unity of Muslims and Tamils to fight to win their rights, protect their homeland and improve their economic conditions.
  • To put an end to the Sinhala colonization in the North and East of the country.
  • The conference adopted that the Sri Lanka security forces should not be involved in the maintenance of law and order in the North and Eastern provinces.
  • Political rights should be granted to the Tamils of the Indian origin who reside permanently in the hill country region.The conference called for the immediate lifting of the emergency regulations that were in force in the North and Eastern provinces. Furthermore, the conference also resolved to abolish social injustices and discrimination based on the caste system and also on the issue of emancipation of women by taking action to halt the exploitation, suffering and humiliation that women are subjected to as a result of the practice and existence of the dowry system among Tamils.Immediately after the conference, Mahataya, the deputy leader of the LTTE, along with Anton Balasingham and Yogaratnam Yogi left for Colombo and met Premadasa for the second time. Mahataya placed three demands at this meeting:
  • All patrolling by the Sri Lankan army in the Eastern province must cease immediately.
  • All army camps situated near the schools and places of worship in Tamil areas should be either closed down or relocated elsewhere.
  • The security camps in the North and East should not exceed one or two per districts.On March 8, LTTE leaders gathered at the Webber stadium, Batticaloa, and took a common open pledge to oppose the sixth amendment. On March 9, Mahataya left for Colombo and met with Premadasa, who, assisted by A C S Hameed, General Sepala Attygale, General Cyril Ranatunge, discussed issues relating to the security situation and repealing the sixth amendment, with the LTTE delegation. Mahataya insisted on confining the Sri Lankan soldiers to their barracks. Hameed agreed with the suggestion that the LTTE would be responsible for the maintenance of law and order during the interim period until elections were held to the Provincial Council. Furthermore, it was agreed that in case the Sri Lankan troops were to move out of the camps, then they would do so only with the concurrence of the LTTE. It was also agreed that the LTTE would have the authority to recruit 7,000 personnel from among their cadres for the provincial police force after the Provincial Council elections.Meanwhile, the EPRLF felt that the Sri Lankan government had hoodwinked it as well as the North-East Provincial government. EPRLF said that the Sri Lankan government promised autonomy to the Tamils, “which will be in no way less than the powers enjoyed by the states of India”. They claimed that their belief in this assurance formed the basis for them giving up their demand for Eelam – a separate state for the Tamils, and also to accept the Indo-Sri Lankan accord. They further added that the 13th amendment of the constitution, which was amended for the purpose of setting up the provincial government, fell far short of the aspirations of the Tamils. In this context, the point of view of the EPRLF was “the government of Sri Lanka had armed a guerrilla force to destabilize the provincial government, a legally constituted and a duly elected body. If we took a hard line that, was because the government in Colombo resorted to adventurism of subverting its constitution politically, by not implementing the 13th amendment to the constitution and by arming the LTTE”.Stung by sporadic verbal outbursts of Perumal and the EPRLF, on February 8 Ranjan Wijeratne, at a post-cabinet press briefing, said that Varatharajah Perumal had left the country and returned without informing the government. The Sri Lankan minister was referring to the visit of the chief minister to India for talks as early as January 8, and his return to the island on February 7. Wijeratne said, “Explanation would be called from the chief minister as to how he left the country and returned back to the country. If no convincing reply was forthcoming from him, action will be taken against him under the normal laws of the country. We will ask the immigration and the customs officials to find out how Mr Perumal left the country and arrived without going through the normal foreign travel procedures of the country.”He added, “The North East Provincial Council Government’s chief minister had not sought permission to leave the country, but in reality and according to the law, as a chief minister, he should have obtained the government’s permission before leaving the country. We don’t know whether the North East Provincial government’s chief minister brought gold, drugs, illegal arms or currency. For this reason, he should have been searched on his arrival. He should have gone though the laws of the country.” He further added that, “Varatharajah Perumal got into an IPKF plane and flew off to India. Therefore, our officers didn’t have the opportunity of checking him. This is why we want the IPKF out of the country. Mr Perumal should understand that.”By February 23, 1990 the last IPKF contingent had left from the Vadamaradchi region and from Jaffna. This brought the uninterrupted political and military activities of the LTTE to the forefront. They intensified and consolidated their positions in Vavuniya, Mullaithievu, Mannar, Kilinochchi, Trincomalee, Amparai and Batticaloa. Mahataya, the deputy leader of the LTTE and the head of the PFLT, in an interview said, “The Tigers view that the Indian government has no further role to play in Sri Lanka politically and militarily.” He also said that India’s 1987 food drop, over the Northern province, was an interference in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs.J N Dixit, who was the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka and later the Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs, agreed with the criticism that the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement did not fulfill the objectives, and the IPKF withdrawal without completion of its task was a foreign policy failure. He added:
  • The V P Singh Government, which succeeded Rajiv Gandhi, transmuted this lack of political will into operational decisions which reversed Indian policies towards Sri Lanka, resulting in the failure of the agreement.
  • The agreement failed because Rajiv Gandhi took the decision on the basis of predications and advice conveyed to him by his advisers, which in retrospect were inaccurate and over optimistic. He can be blamed for the decision to sign the agreement, but not for the collective judgment of the Indian establishment.
  • The agreement failed because there was no cohesion in operational aspects of the Indian policies and harmonious coordination between different agencies of the government of India, dealing with Sri Lankan crisis.Rajiv Gandhi could be partially blamed for the contradiction which characterized Indian policies. Though he had to instruct the armed forces to confront the LTTE, once they reverted to terrorism there was perhaps an emotional and psychological inhibition on his part to take drastic action against the LTTE. He had an innate sympathy for the legitimate rights and aspirations of Tamils. It is perhaps because of this mind-set that he permitted representative of our [Indian] intelligence agencies to continue negotiations with the LTTE even as the Indians forces were engaged in military operations against them. The consequence was that the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government took advantage of this two-track policy and its contradictions, and thereby reduced the efficacy of the IPKF operations.In February 1990, the National Front government led by V P Singh told the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Lakha, Lal Mehrotra, to convey to Varatharajah Perumal an official recommendation seeking the dissolution of the North-Eastern Provincial government. Lal Mehrotra, perhaps not wanting to face the chief minister, passed the responsibility of conveying the message to his deputy, S Jai Shankar, the First Secretary who along with a colleague, flew to Trincomalee, on February 28, to meet Perumal.The chief minister was shocked and flabbergasted, when he heard the Indian government’s recommendation from the diplomats of the Indian embassy, for the dissolution of his government. He maintained very firmly that, the request should not be entertained. He politely but firmly told Jai Shankar that, his was an elected government and India had no business to request the winding up of an elected government. He, however, added that, it was a decision which could be taken only by the EPRLF leadership and he suggested that, the diplomats could meet Pathmanabah, who would be in Trincomalee that evening.Later, Pathmanabah and Varatharajah Perumal had a long closed-door consultation. It was decided that, there would be no dissolution of the Provincial government. They also decided that, it was high time to teach a lesson to New Delhi. They also decided that, the Provincial Council would ultimately declare a Unilateral Declaration Independence of Tamil Eelam. When the two diplomats met the chief minister in the evening, he reiterated that the provincial government would not be dissolved. In the evening, Perumal hosted a farewell party to the departing IPKF officers. By midnight, when the party was almost over, and as most guests had left, the chief minister said that the North-Eastern provincial government controlled by the EPRLF would ultimately declare unilaterally Eelam on the next morning. When the news reached the Indian diplomats, they were panicky and contacted the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo in the wee hours and informed him of the latest developments. The High Commissioner instructed the Indian diplomats to take the IPKF helicopter in the early morning and leave Trincomalee.The next day, March 1, 1990, the North-East Provincial Council met and moved a five-page resolution converting the North-Eastern Provincial Council into a constituent state assembly for the purpose of drafting a constitution for the Eelam Democratic Republic, which would take effect on March 1, 1990, if the Sri Lankan government failed to implement a charter of 19 demands to be submitted by the EPRLF on February 25.On this day the central committee of the EPRLF issued a 19-point charter forwarding “the conditions that had to be satisfied for the Eelam Tamils to exercise their right of self–determination, within a united Sri Lanka. The demands were:
  • Powers should be devolved in all subjects on the North-East provincial government, not to be less than the powers enjoyed by the Indian states. The relationship in administration and finance between the central government and the North–East provincial government should not be less than the relationship between Indian central government and the state governments.
  • It should be assumed that the North-EastpProvince will not be bifurcated at any stage and in any way and it will continue to be one province.
  • All state land within the North-East province shall be vested in the North-East provincial government. All land development, land alienation of state land and colonization of state land shall vest in the North-East government, without leaving room for misinterpretation.
  • Although the demand that all Sinhala colonization, which took place after the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam pact of 1957 – is unlawful and that, it should be disbanded is reasonable, but for the reason that the relationship between the various communities should be safeguarded, we propose the following on the Sinhala colonization:
  • All Sinhala colonization deliberately carried out by the United National Party government after 1977, should be disbanded and the Sinhalese should be settled in their original province or in any other Sinhala province.
  • In order to find a political solution in respect of Sinhala colonization done prior to 1977, the delimitation and demarcation of the new boundaries of North-East Province should be done with the consent and unanimous decision of all the Tamil political parties. Sinhala villages in the North-East province adjoining the Sinhala province could be linked with the Sinhala province. At the same time, for the substitution of it, the same extent of fertile forest land from the Sinhala province shall be linked with the North-East province. The re-adjustment and the demarcation of boundaries of the North-East province should not disturb the contiguity of the province or affect the safe transfer within the province. The boundaries of the North-East province, such as from Pt Pedro [Point Pedro] to Kumbukkam Aru and from Muhathuvara Aru to Trincomalee, should not be changed for any reason.
  • Today the Sri Lankan state security forces is only a Sinhalese force. Out of the 32,000 personnel in the police force, only 740 are Tamil speaking. Out of 64,000 in the three armed forces, only about 600 are Tamil speaking. To change this situation and for the state forces to change qualitatively into a national force in a country inhabited by many nationalities, the Sri Lankan Sinhala state forces should change into a national state force, and personnel from the Tamil speaking community should be enrolled on the police force in a way which would maintain national ethnic ratio. This was accepted by the Sri Lankan government at the Security Coordinating Committee meeting, and to be implemented within three years time. They have also placed their signatures in acceptance. Within the first three months 25 percent to be enrolled before the end of 1990 and the remaining to be enrolled to the state forces before the end of 1992 and by January 1993, the Sri Lankan armed forces will become a national force. This form will apply to the national police force as well.
  • Earlier, the Sri Lankan government accepted at the Security Coordination Committee meeting that the provincial government will have 9,500 police personnel in the province, in a way the ethnic ratio is brought out. Fifty percent had to be recruited within the first three months. Before the end of 1990, the provincial police system should function in full.
  • Bases to the three forces can only function in the following places in the North-East province:
    (a) Palai Army Camp;
    (b) Karainagar Naval Base;
    (c) Thalladi Army Camp;
    (d) Vavuniya Josop Camp;
    (e) Trincomalee Naval Base;
    (f) Trincomalee Air Force Base;
    (g) Amparai Kondaivedduvan Army Camp.
  • All the other bases, other than mentioned, should be dismantled. There can be no interference by the forces in the civil administration without the permission of the provincial government. Any person who is not registered as a resident of the North-East province will not have the right to vote in the North-East province.
  • As the Sinhalese constitute 73 percent of the national population, it is common occurrence in the political history of Sri Lanka to deprive the Tamil speaking people of their political and economical rights by making use of the ethnic majority representation in parliament. As such, it is necessary to establish a second chamber to the parliament, with equal representation for nationalities to safeguard the political, economic, cultural, religious and security rights. This chamber should be established in such a way that it could prevent communal legislation.
  • The army should be removed from Fort Frederick in Trincomalee where the Konesar Temple is situated. This area should be declared as a sacred area for Hindus and it should be brought under the administration of the North-East provincial government.
  • Administration of all places of worship in the North-East province should come under the administration of the North-East provincial government.
  • Foreign countries and international agencies have agreed to donate $550 million for rehabilitation and reconstruction of the North-East. The Sri Lankan government has to add 20 percent of this amount, the total amount for rehabilitation and reconstruction will be 25,000 million rupees in Sri Lankan currency. This amount should be credited to the North-East provincial government. Our past experience has been that the Sri Lankan government has created conditions by which we could not make use of these funds for rehabilitation and reconstruction in the proper way and further more, these funds have been diverted to Sinhala provinces. As such, aids and grants for rehabilitation and reconstruction should be left to the authority of the North-East provincial government.
  • The Tamils living in the upcountry have continued to face oppression and suppression by the Sri Lankan Government and the Sinhala racial forces over the past 40 years. Over 5 lakhs of them have been repatriated to India. Those remaining are living with no definite and clear hopes of their future. They have been made political orphans amidst economic exploitation, discrimination, Sinhalese colonization and violent aggression, by the Sinhalese racists. In order to change this situation, a new province and a provincial government should be created in the upcountry, where the upcountry Tamils will be in a majority. In the event of such Provincial Council being created for the upcountry Tamils, the Tamils would extend their cooperation for the creation of a Provincial Council, where the Muslims will be in the majority, by linking areas such as Kalmunai, Akkaraipattu and Sammanthurai. A Tamil council in the upcountry and a Muslim Council in the North-East should have at least the minimum rights in possession of lands, economic rights, basic political rights, cultural and religious rights, education, employment and social services. These councils should also have the right to safeguard these rights.
  • The provincial government should have the powers to negotiate with foreign countries or foreign agencies regarding investments, grants and aids. In the event of the negotiations concluding with successful decisions and if they are not contrary to the overall foreign and economic policy of the Sri Lankan government, legal and administrative arrangements should be made for those aids, grants and investments to reach the North-East provincial government, unhindered.
  • The provincial government should have legal rights not less than the rights enjoyed by the private sector in the establishment and maintenance of economic institutions.
  • The provincial government should have legislative and executive powers as far as residual matters of the constitution are concerned.
  • Mossad, South African, British Army Intelligence Services and international agencies such as KMS and SAS stationed and operating in Sri Lanka, should be expelled from Sri Lanka, immediately. The special task force should be sent out of North-East province. They should never be allowed to come into the North-East province, at any time.
  • The Prevention of Terrorism Act, which is presently operative in Sri Lanka, should be fully done away with. The emergency regulations should be repealed and all persons arrested under emergency regulations should be tried under normal criminal laws of the country.The move of the declaration Eelam by the EPRLF sent shock waves through India and the rest of Sri Lanka. It was a real embarrassment to New Delhi that the announcement came from a Tamil group widely seen as pro-India. Meanwhile, the lone UNP member in the council, M Majid, came out of the Provincial Council Assembly hall and ran to the administrative office to telephone President Premadasa in Colombo. He conveyed the dramatic development in the meeting. The president asked Majid what he had been doing when the resolution was being introduced and subsequently passed. He said, “I walked out before it being passed.” Premadasa just said, “Good”.The hasty move by the EPRLF and Varatharajah Perumal with the Unilateral Declaration of Independence for a separate state of Tamil Eelam presented an opportunity for the Sri Lankan government to dissolve the North-East provincial government. Bradman Weerakoon, in his book Premadasa of Sri Lanka: A Political Biography, wrote, “All political parties in parliament, except the EPRLF, condemned Varatharajah Perumal’s move. Under the Provincial Council Law of 1987, one of the safeguards to guarantee some autonomy to the Provincial Council had been that the government could not dissolve a Provincial Council by executive fiat. Varatharajah Perumal’s UDI provided the opportunity for the government to bring in amending legislation which enabled the government to dissolve, ‘where more than one half of the total membership of a Provincial Council, expressly repudiated or manifestly disavowed obedience to the constitution.’” – pages 69-70On March 10, 1990, Varatharajah Perumal left Trincomalee with his wife and three daughters, first for Mauritius in an aircraft charted by RAW. From Mauritius he was taken to India and put up at Haveli in Madhya Pradesh. In September 1992, the Indian government shifted him to Ajmer, Rajasthan, where he would be able to arrange educational facilities for his daughters.M R Naran Swamy, wrote in his Tigers of Lanka: From Boys to Guerrilla: “Perumal remained in Mauritius for some three months. He was later moved to Lakshwadeep island. Perumal and his family were shifted to Chanderi fort in the Madhya Pradesh, in August 1990, two months after LTTE assassinated Pathmanabah and 12 EPRLF members in Madras. Perumal was moved to Ajmer, in Rajasthan, in September 1992. He has not appeared in public since he left Trincomalee although he has traveled to New Delhi a few times. In August 1993, he said in an interview to me (The Pioneer, September 14) that he would return to Sri Lanka if Colombo started a political process to solve Tamil grievances.” – page 317The Indian Government provided the former chief minister of North-East provincial government high-level security, usually reserved for important politicians and leaders of India. His perks included a palatial bungalow, a dozen-odd domestic staff, including a liaison officer, cooks and servants and two vehicles. The central government of India also gave him a substantial amount for personal expenditure and overheads, such as fuel and maintenance of vehicles.Pathmanabah and 275 of his supporters and sympathizers also flew to India in an Indian Air Force transport aircraft. Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi refused to let two chartered ships carrying 1,355 pro-Indian Tamils, including women and children, to dock at Madras. Sri Lankan president Ranasinghe Premadasa ordered that a fitting farewell ceremony be accorded to those Indian soldiers who had fallen in battle in Sri Lanka. On March 24, 1990, one week before schedule, the last of the Indian soldiers was ready to leave. It was a moving farewell on the docks of Trincomalee. Ranjan Wijeratne, the Deputy Minister of Defense, rose to the occasion with some well chosen words and the Indian soldiers waved their goodbyes, as the last ship started moving from the Sri Lankan coast.On March 24, 1990, Ranjan Wijeratne and the defense chiefs of Sri Lanka reported in writing to the president of Sri Lanka about the departure of the Indian armed forces:His Excellency R Premadasa,
    President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
    Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Minister of Defense
    Your Excellency,
    I, Ranjan Wijeratne, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of State for Defense, have the honour to report that members of the Indian armed services were inducted into Sri Lanka from time to time, pursuant to a request made by His Excellency the President J R Jayewardene, in terms of section 2:161C1 of the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement, signed at Colombo on the twenty-ninth day of July nineteen hundred and eighty-seven, between His Excellency J R Jayewardene, the then president of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and Shri Rajiv Gandhi, the then prime minister of India and the annexure thereto, for the purpose of assisting the government of Sri Lanka in the restoration of peace and normalcy in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka, have concluded their phased de-induction, which commenced in pursuance to Your Excellency’s direction in December nineteen hundred and eighty-eight. The last contingent of the said Indian armed services departed from the Trincomalee Pier at ten hundred hours on the twenty-fourth day of March nineteen hundred and ninety and I am honoured to report that no member of the said Indian armed services now remains within the territorial limits of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Present with me at the Trincomalee Pier to witness the departure of the said Indian armed services were His Excellency L L Mehrotra, the High Commissioner for India in Sri Lanka, General Sepala Attyagalle, General S C Ranatunge, Secretary to the Ministry of Defense, the Service Commanders, General A S Kalkat and high ranking officers of the Sri Lankan and Indian armed services.
    (Sgd) Ranjan Wijeratne, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense and the Minister of State for Defense.Annex
    As regards the activities of KP and the requirement of apprehending him and interrogating him, the following extracts of the Progress Reports of the SIT/CBI give a detailed reasoning in SIT Folder No 345/XV Part IICentral Bureau of Investigation special investigation team (SIT Folder No 345/XV Part II) MadrasSubject: Dharmaligam Shanmugam Kumaran alias Kumaran Padmanabha alias Selvaraja Padmanabha alias KP alias “Kaludai” alias Kutti alias Padmanabha“Investigations conducted so far have disclosed that Kumaran Padmanabha has been the chief procurer of arms and ammunitions, telecommunication equipment, explosives and other electronic equipment for the LTTE. He has also been instrumental in funding the purchases of these materials through gold and drug smuggling. K P’s area of operation is the international market, mainly the Far East, ie, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Burma; Europe; France, Switzerland, Belgium, Greece and UK; America-Panama and the Caribbean-St Vincent. In fact, the wing of the LTTE which arranges funds and supplies has been named by them as the “K P Department”. In this case, K P becomes relevant to trace the sources of procurement of explosives used for the assassination, arms (AK47 and 9mm pistol) carried by the accused and the wireless equipment used by them.2. Available personal details
    2.1 K P was born on 6.4.1955 at Myliyddy near Kankesanthurai, Jaffna. He was residing at No 130, KKS Road, Jaffna. He is said to be related to Prabhakaran. His original name is Dharmaligam. He graduated in arts from Jaffna University. He is not married.2.2 K P is in possession of one Sri Lankan and two Indian passports. He holds a Sri Lankan passport No J-803500 and Sri Lankan Identity Card No 550971231-V. He holds two Indian Passports – No E 432432 in the name of Dharmalingam Shanmugham Kumaran. This passport was issued from London on 9.8.89. The other Indian passport used by him is in the name of Selvaraja Padmanabhan. The number of this passport is E-277582.3.
  • Activities 
    It is reported that in 1981 K P robbed the Peoples Bank in Tirunelveli (Jaffna). K P has been active in India since 1983, during 1983 he was arrested for smuggling gold worth Rs 40 lakhs from Singapore to Bombay, in collusion with Vakil Kandasamy. He was then operating in the name of Kutti alias Padmanabhan. He was again arrested for smuggling in 1984. From 1983 onwards, K P has been operating from Madras in close association with Raghu alias Gudnappa, approached Capt Piraisoodi alias Capt David, a merchant navy captain and floated a company at Singapore called “Arasu Maritime Pvt Ltd, Singapore: Money for starting the company , ie US$25,000 which was the paid-up capital, was provided by K P. In October 1984, a ship the M V Cholan, was purchased. This ship originally belonged to a Chinese company and was registered at Panama. This ship was operating between Singapore, Penang, Sri Lanka, Vizag and Nagapattinam carrying outboard speed boat engines, communication equipments and, in all probabilities, armaments. During the period 1986-88 a new shipping company was floated in Singapore called “Plymouth Shipping Company” in partnership with Capt Vijaykumar. This ship also was used exclusively for the supplies of the LTTE.3.1 In 1989 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, K P floated a company “Vikram Holdings Pvt Ltd” in partnership with three Malaysians of Sri Lankan origin. Capt Piraisoodi was also one of the directors of the company. During the same period, KP opened another company – “Point Pedro Shipping”- registered at Panama. This company was operating two ships “Sun Bird” and “Elicia”. The financing was done by K P. “Sun Bird”, flying the flag of Cyprus, was caught in Penang in December 1990, along with boat engines, communication equipments, etc, with the case pending in Malaysia. Another ship called the “Golden Bird” is also financed by K P and is reportedly highly active. “Sun Bird ” and “Elicia” were extensively used for transporting arms and explosives from European countries. Both the ships fly the flag of Honduras.3.2 During November 1990 it was learnt that the London office of the LTTE had organized a shipment of weapons through Kumaran. However, the shipment could not come due to the Gulf War. Some other ships which have been under the control of KP are “Amazon” and “Nifly”.3.3 Two close associates of K P in India were Eason Singapore and Kumar. Eason was arrested in 1991, January, by local police and is presently lodged at Vellore jail. Vakil Kandaswamy was another close associate of KP who had been used by K P for smuggling gold from Singapore and arranging LTTE members in going abroad on forged travel papers.3.4 During November 1990, Eason and Kandaswamy had spoken to K P over the telephone from Adayar STD booth. K P was at that time reported to be at Kuala Lumpur. During the conversation with Kandaswamy, K P had indicated that LTTE was going to launch a major operation in India to harm the Indian leadership.3.5 During Nov-Dec ’90, K P was in Cyprus. He was in touch with Kumar who was staying at 28th Lodge, Room No 5, Sarangoon Singapore, along with Kader. Telephone calls made from this lodge to Cyprus during the period can be checked to ascertain the Cyprus address of K P. A consignment of arms was loaded on the ship “Golden Bird” by K P. Kader was called by K P from Singapore and he joined him at Cyprus. He was put aboard the “Golden Bird” by K P. The “Golden Bird” reached the Bay of Bengal in Feb ’91 and the armed cargo was unloaded and sent to Jaffna in four installments, during March 1991. “Golden Bird” belongs to a company “Henseatic” registered with Orient Shipping in Germany. During this period, the other LTTE ship “Elicia” was also in the Bay of Bengal. Kader has since been apprehended by the Indian Navy along with nine others from the vessel “Tong Nova” and is now in the custody of the Q Branch of Tamil Nadu Police.3.6 It is also learnt that in June ’91 K P visited Singapore and went to the Thai-Cambodia border in the third week of July, where he negotiated purchases of arms and ammunitions from the KPNLF for the LTTE. He is believed to have proceeded to Australia/New Zealand.3.7 During January 1991, K P contacted Captain Piraisoodi from Bangkok (Thailand) and spoke to him about transportation of consignments.3.8 During May 1991, K P was reported to be in India. On 26-5-91, ie, five days after the assassination [Rajiv Gandhi], K P reportedly left for Bangkok from Bombay. His present whereabouts are not known.3.9 K P being the sole procurer, transporter and supplier of arms, explosives and communication equipments for the LTTE, appears to be the prime suspect in this case who would have supplied the explosives used for the assassination, the AK47 and 9mm pistol used by Sivarasan and the wireless sets used by Sivarasan, Kanthan, Dixon and others. So far no evidence has come to suggest any alternative method of procurement and supply.3.10 During the period 1984-85 while K P was in India, there is evidence of large-scale purchases of highly sophisticated weapons by him. During the searches made at the house of Radhakrishnan alias Radha at Chingelput, some files captioned “K P-Deal List” were seized. These files indicate bulk purchases of gun boats, recoilless rifles, 106mm, torpedoes, RPG antit-ank and anti-personnel mines, Israeli grenades, 7362mm NATO rifles, ammunition, plastic explosives, sub-machine guns, night vision devices and related equipment. The documents also indicate procurement of G3, N16, M60 rifles, Czech pistols 9mm and large quantities of mortar and explosive substances. The documents disclose the price at which these arms are available in British Pound Sterling and also contain certain unsigned requirements apparently sent to the arms dealers for procurement of these weapons.3.11 The above details would necessarily imply management of huge finances for floating of companies, purchase of ships, arms etc. However, there is no direct evidence to indicate sources of finance, except for some isolated incidents of gold smuggling, which by themselves, appear inadequate to finance the above requirements.3.12 In this context, the information furnished by the Criminal Investigation Department of Sri Lankan Police is relevant. This information relates to the links between drug trafficking and the Tamil terrorist organization.3.13 The report, inter alia, states that during the period 1984-86 a large percentage of Sri Lankans arrested in West Germany, Italy, France and Spain for drug smuggling were found to be Sri Lankan Tamils. The average percentage of the Sri Lankan Tamils out of the total Sri Lankans arrested during this period was 84 percent. Almost all the Tamils arrested were found traveling on forged passports. During interrogation, they admitted that they were indulging in drug-trafficking on behalf of Tamil terrorists in order to derive funds for purchase of arms.3.14 During the period 1989-90, the Sri Lankan Tamil drug traffickers arrested abroad were largely found to be operating from India. Recently a Sri Lankan Tamil, Vamadevan alias Capt Kumar has been arrested by the Bombay Police for possession of heroin (we have to get Capt Kumar thoroughly interrogated regarding his LTTE connections).3.15 During 1989-90, as many as 13 Sri Lankan Tamils were arrested for drug smuggling by the Police Narcotics Bureau of Sri Lanka. They were found to be having definite LTTE links (we may ask the Sri Lankan government to provide us details of their interrogation). The Sri Lankan CID has come to the conclusion that large sums of money diverted from the sale of heroin by the drug-running syndicates of the LTTE are re-routed to south India from where the money is disseminated abroad for purchase of armaments. They have also concluded that these syndicates procure their narcotics from India.4 Countries from where operations took place
    India
    4.1 In Madras, the K P department was functioning from the LTTE office, during 1983-84. Smuggling was arranged from here and funds from Sri Lankans abroad were also collected at Madras. Associates of K P at Madras were (1) Raghu alias Gundapa, (2) Eason Singaraya, (3) Kumar, (4) Vakil Kandaswamy, and (5) Ranjith (Accountant).4.2 Kandaswamy is reported to own a house at Regharpura Karol Bagh, New Delhi, which was used by KP as a safe house. However, during interrogation, Kandaswamy stated one Lawrence was earlier staying in Regharpura, Karol Bagh. He died subsequently. K P’s contacts in New Delhi were the former immigration officer of Delhi Airport, Jagdish Yadav, who is said to be presently working in the traffic police, Delhi. He has a house at E17, Shankar Road, Karol Bagh, New Delhi. Yadav is also reported to be the owner of “Flying Travels” near Navrang Hotel, Pahar Ganj, New Delhi. K P during 1986 used to stay at Navrang Hotel, Pahar Ganj. K P’s other contacts in New Delhi were Virendra Yadav, brother of Jagdish Yadav, owner of “Cozy Travels”, Ground Floor, Aeroflot Building, New Delhi. His other contacts were V D Gupta and Dahaiya immigration officers. Dahaiya is said to be SHO, Greater Kailash. Other travel agencies used by KP were “VK Travels”, near Imperial Cinema, Pahar Ganj, owned by V K Aggarwal and “Hind Travels”, Karol Bagh owed by Arun Marwah.Singapore
    4.3 (i) Captain Piraisoody, (ii) Mr Rajendran, Prof of mathematics, Singapore University, (related to K P and V Prabhakaran), (iii) Devendran, (iv) Arasa Rathnam, (v) Mohammed Rial (gold smugglers between Singapore and Madras) are his associates. Shipping and Finance companies of K P operate from here. It is suspected that he may be purchasing explosives (hand grenades), etc from here as well.4.4 KP deals with the following agencies for procurement of equipments at Singapore:
    Inter Nave Agencies Pvt, Ltd 30-04, International Plaza, Anson Road Singapore. Blazer Electronics Company, Sim Lim Tower, Ground Floor, Rochore Road, Singapore (K P purchased telecommunication equipment and boat engines through a smuggler, Charles Fernando, from this shop in Nov-Dec ’90).Malaysia 
    4.5 (i) Longanathan, (ii) Dhanapalan and (iii) Karunanidhi (partners of Nikram Holdings, Kuala Lumpur) are his known associates. Malaysia is an important smuggling base of K P.4.6 KP’s address at Malaysia – Tingkat 3, Block C8, Jalam/ Taman Tunku, Bukit, Tunku, Kuala Lumpur. He is also the director of “Vikram Holdings” Lot 592, 5th Floor, PO Box 469, Wisman Central, Jalam, Ampong, 50450, Kuala Lumpur.Thailand 4.7 (i) S Mohan, c/o V Easwara & Co Ltd, PO Box No 894, Park Nong PO, Bangkok, is a close friend of K P, with whom K P stays while at Thailand.4.8 He was also managing “Aarasu Maritime Pvt Ltd, 0904, LKN Building, 135 Cecil Street, Bangkok.France 4.9 K P is known to have extensively used the French port of Marseilles for transportation of arms through his various ships. He is reportedly in close association with an arms smuggler and international drug runner, Patrick Condier – a retired French army officer.Switzerland 4.10 This country is used mainly for transfer of money through bank accounts and fund raising.Belgium 4.11 The port of Antwerp is used both for purchase of arms as well as their transportation.Panama, Honduras and St Vincent 4.12 Due to their liberal registration procedure, these countries have been used for registration of companies and ships by K P.4.13 K P is also known to be operating from Hong Kong. He may be in touch with Mrs Shanmugaraja, c/o Kolpitiya. Hong Kong (telephone No. 01-397801-21).United Kingdom 4.14 Apart from Kittu, K P’s contact in the UK is Kamalasingam alias Singam alias Kamla, who is a British national at c/o 44, 40th Lane, Wembley, Middlesex, HA 99, HA UK. He is a telecommunication engineer.4.15 According to Capt Piraisoodi, K P is in close touch with one Dinesh who is based somewhere in Greece. His telephone No 30-1-418925 (Res) and 4-220226.5. Incidentally, as per intelligence reports, it was mentioned that K P would be dispatching another consignment of arms and ammunition through “Golden Bird” which will be taken by boats from the high seas in the Indian Ocean to Jaffna. The seizure of the speed boat “Tong Nova” along with 10 crew members, including Capt Balan, off the Indian coast shows that K P is still active in this area. A detailed interrogation of Capt Balan and others is being done and relevant details about K P shall be elicited from them.Comments of Sh R V Raju, DIG on the note on K P prepared by Sh Amit Verma, SP. The note on K P is fairly detailed. His extensive activities in arms procuring for the LTTE movement in Sri Lanka have been traced. Now his role in our case is to be examined.2. The note gives that it is K P who procures arms for the LTTE. He is, thus, the source of most of the arms and telecommunication equipment. The AK-47, pistols, grenades and wireless sets used in our case could have been procured by KP for LTTE. However, the only possible evidence connecting K P with our case till date is Vakil Kandaswamy’s statement quoting the phone conversation in which K P refers to the action planned against the Indian leadership.3. K P no doubt is one of the most important members of the LTTE, performing perhaps the most vital role he would certainly have played the role in the decision making on the assassination, as he would have to take all possible steps to avoid any adverse effect of the crime on his activities, ie, purchase and supply of arms etc, just like Trichy Santhan instructed Suresh Master for shifting the injured LTTE cadres much before the assassination. We, as yet, have neither any evidence nor even information, of any decision, having been taken by the LTTE.4. Another possibility is that LTTE may have obtained military equipment from some third party as a result of the assassination. In this case, too K P is likely to have been deeply involved.5. K P, therefore, requires to be interrogated thoroughly. All possible evidence against him needs to be collected. This could be done as follows: All particulars about him to be collected from Indian/Sri Lankan passports.
    Particulars of the arrest of KP and Vakil Kandaswamy for smuggling gold in Bombay in 1983 to be collected from Bombay Police through Bombay Branch.
    Raghu alias Gundappa to be interrogated to get all possible particulars about K P, his friends, relatives etc.
    Kader in “Q” branch custody to be interrogated for (a) K P’s knowledge of the assassination. (b) Shipment of arms connected with assassination.
    Vamadevan alias Cap Kumar arrested by Bombay Police for drug trafficking to be interrogated by sending an IO to see possible connection with K P.
    Pointers to trace source of sale of weapons, explosives and communication equipment used in our case to be sent to explore their connection with K P.
    Accused like Santhan could be further examined to see if he had knowledge of K P’s involvement in the decision making or connection with the arms used in our case.
    (R V Raju – DIG: SIT: Madras – 21.11.91)Comment of DIG Sh Srikumar on the note of S H Amit Verma on KP. The note given by S H Amit Verma before we went to Sri Lanka is placed on files (S/7 to 10/c). As a result of our discussions with the various agencies, the facts gathered from Sri Lankan agencies are placed on file. The photographs of M V Sunbird video record of M V Sunbird as well as KP’s two apartments in Kuala Lumpur, the assets and liabilities statement and details of 22 a/cs of KP have been obtained from NIB. These are also placed on file (The video cassette is with Sh Manoharan). The facts gathered conclusively establish the pre-eminence of K P as the chief procurer of arms and handler of funds for LTTE.2. On the basis of pointers raised by SP (AV) and DIG (RVR) the role of KP in the assassination case needs to be looked into closely to ascertain whether:
    Belt bomb was procured through him.
    AK 47 9mm pistols seized from Sivarasan was seized from him.
    Wireless sets used for communication between 91 and 95 stations were purchased by him.
    The money spent by Sivarasan for the assassination is accounted for in K P’s account.
    Whether ack-ack guns, SAM 8 missiles or other heavy armament purchase were effected by K P immediately after assassination through funds channalised with his accounts at that time.
    What was he doing in India at the time of assassination and why he hurriedly left India.In order to pursue investigations to get an answer to the above points, we would naturally have to collect as much information as possible about K P and his movements and associates. In addition to the previous cases where he or his associates have been arrested earlier, viz:1983 – Smuggling gold from Singapore to Bombay – arrested at Bombay; 1984 – gold smuggling, Madras; Dec ’90 – Sun Bird seizure at Penang; Jan/Feb ’91 – Eisen & Kandaswamy’s arrest; Aug ’91 – Radha’s house search; Oct ’91 – Kandaswamy’s arrest; Nov ’91 – Tong Nova arrests.4. We should also further interrogate Cap Pirasoodi and the 10 arrested sailors from Tong Nova as well as Vakil Kandaswamy.5. During our visit to Sri Lanka, a source talked of a meeting with K P and an American agent at Paris within a fortnight of the assassination. It was divulged that K P was given $3 million dollars with which he made arms purchases from Southern Lebanon. In the light of this information, questioning of K P becomes imperative if further insight into a greater conspiracy has to be had. At present, he is said to be moving in Australia/New Zealand. RAW may be requested to specially mount an operation to watch his movements and take action to nab him if he comes to India again. We could also take up a separate case for use of false passport against him.
    (R Srikumar) DIG: SIT, 23.11.’91

Next: Aftermath of the Indian withdrawal

Further reading:

  1. Dharmaratnam Sivaram
  2. Tamil Women Freedom Fighters
  3. Sri Lanka: The Untold Story, Chapter 16

Posted September 6th, 2019.

Filed under History.

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Sri Lanka: The Untold Story, Chapter 43

Aftermath of the Indian withdrawal

by K T Rajasingham, ‘Asian Times,’ Singapore, 2002

Chapter 1

Chapter 42

Biju Patnaik

Indian interference in Sri Lankan politics came to a final halt when the last of the Indian Peacekeeping Forces (IPKF) left the territorial waters of Sri Lanka on March 24, 1990. Maverick Indian Prime Minister Viswanath Pratab Singh, the Machiavellian External Affairs Minister Inder Kumar Gujral and the macabre Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, contributed their bits individually and collectively to end the regional aspirations of India, cultured, nurtured and propagated by Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. The idea of Indian regional supremacy was decimated by the newly emerged trio in the Indian international political arena.

On March 6, 1990, two chartered ships, the Hrshavardan and the Tipu Sultan arrived at the port of Madras, with 1,375 members and supporters of the EPRLF, but Karunanidhi refused them entry, because they carried anti-LTTE Tamils. The ships were subsequently diverted to Vishakapatnam in Andhara Pradesh and Biju Patnaik, the Congress party Chief Minister of Orissa, agreed to take them as refugees in his state. They were sent to Makangiri by road from Vishakapatnam.

On March 11, Mahabaharat – an Il-76 Soviet-made aircraft – carried from Trincomalee 275 persons, including the EPRLF General Secretary, K Patmanabah and the two Tamil ministers of the North-East Provincial Government and others, to Bhubaneswar, in Orissa state.

IN 32 months in Sri Lanka, the IPKF lost 1,115 soldiers and 2,984 were injured. From July 29, 1987, the IPKF operations in Sri Lanka were also a big drain on the Indian Exchequer. Nearly 50 million Indian rupees were spent a day. Further, it was estimated that the IPKF killed more than 5,000 Tamil civilians, some accidentally, but often deliberately and mostly as reprisals, during their stay in the North and East of Sri Lanka. When they left, the IPKF claimed that they had released nearly 472 LTTE cadres captured and held in their custody, but they failed to reveal the details of those who died in their captivity.

According to some independent sources, which could not be confirmed, it was reported that the LTTE lost nearly 2,500 of its cadres, and 1,500 were wounded.

When the IPKF reached India, they returned unnoticed, a sad end to India’s biggest-ever military overseas expedition. At the port of Madras, Dr P C Alexander, the Tamil Nadu Governor, Dr Raja Ramanna, the Minister of State for Defence, and a small number of civilians were present.

Karunanidhi and the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kalagam) political leaders boycotted the welcome ceremony, saying that their presence would jeopardize their political position with the Tamils in the state. “The humiliation was not in Sri Lanka, but in India,” said Lieutenant-General A S Kalkat, the IPKF Commanding Officer in an interview given to rediff.com – an Indian news website. “India’s Vietnam: IPKF in Sri Lanka 10 years on. Yes. There was some feeling in my soldiers. The humiliation was not in Sri Lanka, because there was no humiliation. The humiliation came when we came back to India. The question people asked was, Why did we go there, what were you doing there? When you send soldiers to such an area, you don’t ask them these questions, you don’t ask them what were you doing there. Those are things that you should have sorted out earlier.

“No, never. But when the public started saying this, and the soldier starts hearing it, he gets hurt. And the main thing was the so-called boycott of IPKF soldiers, when they arrived at Madras port. I think that was a needless act. It was no good. I think the DMK was [then in power in Tamil Nadu] the one, they boycotted it. The Government in India did the right thing, they said if they will not participate in the welcome, fine, we will send our people from here.

“So the Defense Minister that time, Raja Ramanna, came from Delhi and others came from Delhi. Governor of the state Dr [P C] Alexander was there. But that leaves a bad taste. It could have been avoided because it was not conveying anything to me.”

Earlier, George Fernandes, the present Defence Minister of India, who was then a Member of Parliament, a firebrand, warned of “India’s Vietnam”. He said, “When in early August 1987, I had said that Mr Rajiv Gandhi’s military adventure in Sri Lanka would be India’s Vietnam I had not anticipated that India’s Vietnam would also have its own My Lai.”

Meanwhile, it was alleged that the reason that Karunanidhi turned hostile towards the IPKF when they arrived in Madras was to please his LTTE patrons in Sri Lanka. Karunanidhi, born on June 3, 1924, at Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu, was first elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly, Tamil Nadu, on the DMK ticket, to represent Kulithalai, in 1957. After that, he had never been defeated in any assembly elections. In 1967, when C N Annadurai, the erstwhile leader of the DMK, formed the first DMK Government, Karunanidhi was sworn in as the Minister for Public Works. In 1969, when Annadurai succumbed to cancer, Karunanidhi succeeded him as Chief Minister. He held this position in 1969-71; 1971-1976 and from January 1989. It was alleged that Karunanidhi received, for election expenses, 40,000,000 Indian rupees from the LTTE.

According to Rohan Gunaratna, in his Indian Intervention Sri Lanka,he writes, “With the death of the godfather, Ramachandran’s rival Karunanidhi filled the void in Tamil Nadu. In July 1983, Karunanidhi, who had always advocated Eelam, had resigned his seat in the Legislative Assembly to draw attention to the ‘genocides of the Tamils’. Initially, he was a strong supporter of Sri Sabaratnam, the leader of TELO and used TELO cadres as his private army. Following Sri Sabaratnam’s assassination in May 1986, by the LTTE, Karunanidhi said, ‘After this, I will not speak about Sri Lankan Tamils’. The manner in which the LTTE befriended Karunanidhi, who was already sympathetic towards Tamil militants and the cause of Eelam, but not all that well disposed towards Prabakaran, is no more a secret. The LTTE leadership donated Indian rupees 40,000,000 [Indian Rs 4 crore] for the patron. Karunanidhi accepted the money and thereafter even opened the half-closed doors of Tamil Nadu to the LTTE. The fact that LTTE was a private army of Ramachandran, his former political opponent, or that they were warring with the Indian army and that so many Indians had been killed or maimed by the LTTE did not matter to Karunanidhi. In return, LTTE supported him, both politically and personally.

“When the author interviewed Karunanidhi in Madras on the eve of the IPKF offensive on the LTTE, he was bitter with the LTTE for having obliterated TELO but made no attempt to hide the fact that he was totally for Eelam. But, within a year, Karunanidhi who was a strong supporter of TELO, EROS and EPRLF, extended his whole-hearted cooperation to the LTTE. The man changed primarily after the LTTE financed his election campaign. Karunanidhi also thought that his association with Prabakaran would be more profitable than his association with the other militant leaders. Even Indian intelligence reported that Karunanidhi’s election campaign, which made him the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, was financed by LTTE funds and LTTE gold reserves. For Prabakaran and LTTE, it was a profitable investment. Indian intelligence also reported that, today Karunanidhi is under obligation to the LTTE. Later, Prabakaran was to say that any government in power should have a good relationship with LTTE.” – page 420.

It came to light that, during that period, the LTTE managed to buy off many politicians and senior bureaucrats and it had unlimited power and authority from the judiciary to the Chief Minister’s secretariat. If a Sri Lankan youth was arrested for carrying lethal weapons and if the youth was an LTTEer, immediately an order would come for his release. Whenever an LTTE cadre was apprehended and subsequently released, it became the unwritten edict for the police officer to apologize to the LTTE cadre before being released. Gradually, the police and customs officials knew that they had to apologize to the LTTE cadres, otherwise they would be transferred to another station or to an inactive post and victimized in many other ways.

J N Dixit in his book Assignment Colombo wrote, “The last contingent of the IPKF which reached Madras was subjected to extraordinary ungrateful treatment by the Tamil Nadu government of Karunanidhi. Our forces which had loyally taken up the thankless tasks in the larger interest of India and Sri Lanka, which had fought a war in which they were subjected to inhibitions and restraints and in which they had sacrificed several hundreds of their members in fatal and other causalities was not given any welcome by Karunanidhi. The pro-LTTE elements had gone to the extent of describing the IPKF as the ‘Indian Tamil Killing Force;’ and accused it of all sorts of unacceptable behaviour without any reason. It showed the kind of people we are that who cannot even honour and respect their soldiers whom their own elected Government had sent on a mission, at short notice, without even giving the force-time enough to prepare itself fully for the task to which it was assigned. The LTTE brought out a publicity monograph titled ‘The Indian Satanic Force’ against the IPKF. It contained scurrilous and baseless allegations against the Indian army which were bandied about in Tamil Nadu.” – pages 292-293.

The Jain Commission in its report was also critical of the Karunanidhi-LTTE nexus. It states in its “Political Criticism of the Militant Activities in Tamil Nadu: Jan-June 1990”:

“55.2 The continuing unhindered activities of the LTTE came under persistent criticism from various quarters and were increasingly becoming a cause of embarrassment to the political leadership of Tamil Nadu.

“In the State Assembly, the LTTE activities and allegations of state inaction dominated the debates where the DMK party came under severe indictment for allowing the LTTE activities in Tamil Nadu which were disturbing the peace of the state and causing hardships, particularly to the fishermen on Tamil Nadu coastal belt.

“The stand of the DMK president and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Shri M Karunanidhi in the State Assembly, castigating the role of the IPKF in Sri Lanka, came under fire in the assembly. Shri Karunanidhi had declined to attend a function organized for welcoming the IPKF and in the assembly he announced that he was not prepared to receive any army that had killed 5,000 Tamils. The ruling party also came under severe criticism for not being able to protect the Indian Tamil fishermen in the waters of the Palk Straits. A larger number of fishermen were regularly reported to have been abducted by the LTTE who would issue warnings to them before releasing them. There were also reports of constant harassment of fishermen by the LTTE and even information regarding the existence of an LTTE-controlled extortion racket.

“This was an issue where Indian citizens of Tamil Nadu were being held at ransom by the LTTE right under the nose of the Tamil Nadu administration and the State Government, in turn, was justifying LTTE action and warning its own citizens to desist from returning into the sea in pursuit of their only livelihood.

“The refusal of Shri Karunanidhi to allow non-LTTE Sri Lankan Tamil refugees to enter Tamil Nadu was a cause for further criticism; MLAs of the opposition parties castigated the callousness of the Chief Minister in refusing succor and hospitality for other Tamil militants.

“The AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kalagam) and the Congress (I) were not the only parties who raised the issue of LTTE-DMK nexus in the assembly. Members of the assembly belonging to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) were equally vociferous.

“The CPI (M) in the assembly is reported to have stated that it was alleged in parliament that the LTTE had taken control of the coastal areas and was terrorizing the local customs officials, police and fisherman. CPI (M) MLA Shri W R Varadarajan said that an impression was gaining ground that the LTTE men were roaming about in the state and urged the Chief Minister to explain the actual position.

“Faced with such strident criticism in the State Assembly, Sri Karunanidhi, on May 8, 1990, on the floor of the assembly, is reported to have accused the Research and Analysis wing (R&AW) of trying to create a rift between the center and the state and appealed to the Prime Minister to take appropriate action. He alleged that the R&AW, which was responsible in the past for creating divisions among various Tamil groups of Sri Lanka, was doing the same between the center and the state.

“However, this allegation of Shri Karunanidhi was denied by the then Prime Minister Shri V P Singh, who, in a press conference held on May 11, 1990, reportedly stated that the R&AW was not engaged in any such activity.

“55.2.1 Even in the parliament, it appears, the issue was causing concern and had been taken up by various political parties. This development appears to have caused further apprehension in the mind of Shri M Karunanidhi, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, who, as per the intelligence reports, made efforts to ensure that his point of view could be projected before the parliament forcefully. It appears that Shri M Karunanidhi was tipped off by Union Minister P Upendra on May 14, 1990 that the Lok Sabha was likely to discuss notices served by Congress-I and BJP MPs regarding the alleged activities of the LTTE in Tamil Nadu and the DMK’s support to the LTTE. Reports indicate that Shri M Karunanidhi continued denying the allegations that, the LTTE was giving arms training to DK/DMK youths in Tamil Nadu and that the LTTE was behind the law and order problems in Tamil Nadu. He continued to propagate the view that these allegations were baseless and were aimed to create a wedge between the center and the DMK government. He also explained to Shri P Upendra the alleged atrocities committed by the IPKF on the LTTE and innocent Tamils, particularly at Velvettithurai during the IPKF operations on August 2-4, 1989 and justified his absence from participating in the reception to the IPKF at Madras. To substantiate his argument he presented Shri P Upendra a copy of the Tamil booklet prepared in December 1989 by the LTTE under the caption “Massacre at Velvettithurai”, with a foreword by George Fernandes.

“55.3 While the political compulsions forced Shri M Karunanidhi to take an anti-LTTE anti-militancy stance in public, reports of the period indicate that this posture of Shri Karunanidhi caused serious apprehensions among the LTTE leadership. Intelligence reports of the period suggest that the LTTE, at this stage, sought to seek assurances from the chief minister that their activities in Tamil Nadu shall not come under the state crackdown.

“Contemporaneous reports of the Intelligence Bureau specifically state that after the announcement of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister in the assembly that he would not allow LTTE propaganda in the state, Subramaniam alias Baby, an important LTTE leader in Tamil Nadu, met Shri M Karunanidhi and sought clarification on this. Shri Karunanidhi reportedly assured him that his announcement in the assembly regarding a ban on propaganda would apply only to people like P Nedumaran (TNM) and Nagaimugam, who were trying to entwine Sri Lankan politics with Tamil Nadu.

“The reports also suggest that the LTTE operatives in Tamil Nadu were also given reassurances by some officers of the “Q” Branch, CID of the state police, that they could continue to carry out their propaganda activities unhindered.

“The plausibility of the above events becomes credible when seen in the light of the deposition of Shri Karunanidhi before the commission where he admitted that he was supporting the LTTE and withdrew his support only after the LTTE killed Padmanabha, the Secretary-General, EPRLF, at Madras on June 19, 1990.”
(Deposition of Shri M Karunanidhi, dated 17-1-97)

The latest Tamil Nadu-LTTE connection is given at the end of this chapter as an annex, which also serves as a follow-up to the annex to Chapter 42.

Meanwhile, on March 28, 1990, Sri Lankan Prime Minister D B Wijetunga resigned with effect from March 30, thus dissolving the Cabinet and by law, paving the way for the President to appoint a 26-member cabinet along with 23 project ministers and 29 ministers of state on 30 March.

President Ranasinghe Premadasa got rid of Gamini Dissanayake and instead, made Ranjan Wijeratne Plantation Industries Minister, and he continued to hold the post of Minister of State for Defence and Harold Heart, a newcomer and had earlier been a minister without cabinet status, was sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

A C S Hameed was allotted the Justice portfolio and he also retained higher education, which was a ministerial portfolio without cabinet status. At the same time, Vincent Perera was relieved of justice, but he retained parliamentary affairs and remained the Chief Government Whip, but in addition he was given environment.

Lalith Athulathmudali, who had earlier been in charge of agriculture, food and cooperatives, was given Education and Higher Education and Agriculture and Research was given to R M Dharmasena Banda. Food and Cooperatives went to Weerasinghe Mallimarachchi, who had been the District Minister of Colombo. W J M Locku Bandara, who was earlier the Minister of Education, Cultural affairs and Information, was relieved of education but retained the other two portfolios.

S Thondaman was given the additional charge of Tourism along with Rural Industrial Development, but his Textiles went to U B Wijekoon, along with Handloom Industries, while his Public Administration, Provincial Councils and Home Affairs went to Festus Perera in the new shake-up, but Power and Energy went to K D M C. Bandara. Those ministers who retained their portfolios were: President Ranasinghe Premadasa – Minister of Buddha Sasana, Policy Planning and Implementation and Defense. D B Wijetunge – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. Ranil Wickremasinghe – Industries, Science and Technology and Leader of the House. Srisena Coorey – Housing and Construction; Mrs. Renuka Herath – Health and Women’s Affairs; C Nanda Mathew – Youth Affairs and Sports; Wijepala Mendis – Transport and Highways; M Joseph Michael Perera – Fisheries and Aquatic Research and P Dayaratne – Land, Irrigation and Mahaweli Development.

Meanwhile, Abdul Razak Munsoor was given, along with Trade, Commerce portfolios, but, Port along with Shipping was assigned to Rupasena Karunatilake.

Despite these changes, A C S Hameed remained as the leader of the Government delegation that was negotiating with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The entire ground situation had changed, once the IPKF left Sri Lanka. The LTTE decimated its opponents, the Tamil National Army (TNA), and was ensconced in the North and East.

A C S Hameed flew to Palaly airport, Jaffna, to meet the LTTE delegation for talks. And Yogaratnam Yogi was at the airport to meet him. But, a Sri Lankan soldier, at the sight of Yogi, opened fire at him. Yogi managed to escape unscathed and the soldier was immediately arrested. Later, Hameed met the LTTE delegation, which told him, “Our leader wants to meet you.”

Hameed went with his security officer for the meeting with the LTTE delegation led by Prabakaran, the Tiger Supremo. Subsequently, Prabakaran suggested to Hameed that he stay over in Jaffna a few more days, as the LTTE leader was very keen to meet him more often. Later, Hameed said, “Prabakaran was charming and did not give the impression of being rough or unreasonable. Nevertheless, Prabakaran dominated the conversation. One made the decision and the finality was his own monopoly.”

Hameed misunderstood the position of Prabakaran, when he remarked, “One made the decision and the finality was his own monopoly.” Prabakaran was the leader of a militant organization that functioned like an army. LTTE cadres always carried out orders when “General” Prabakaran gave them. The LTTE was not a political organization and it did not believe in the democratic forms and structure. As it was a militant outfit, “the decision and finality was his monopoly”.

Hameed made conciliatory overtures to Prabakaran to visit Colombo, but his advisers cautioned him against such a visit. Bradman Weerakoon states that, it was this inaccessibility to Prabakaran that led the “irascible Ranjan Wijeratne to opine that Prabakaran in fact was dead – killed in a duel by his deputy Mahatahya and A C S Hameed has only met Prabakaran’s double in Jaffna”.

Furthermore, reflecting Premadasa’s thinking on the reclusive LTTE leader, Weerakoon states, “Be that as it may – and Prabakaran was to reappear several times thereafter – this elusive quality added to his charisma and image as a ruthless and implacable military leader whose battle strategies were imaginative and daring.”

Earlier, on September 26, 1989, the new women’s military unit of the LTTE had been inaugurated. This took place on the second death anniversary of Thileepan, who had fasted to death at the Nallur Kandaswamy temple in 1987. Sothia was made the first leader of the women fighters unit. The new office and training complex was given the name “Vidyal”, which translated as dawn. It was anticipated that a new dawn would break for Tamil women. But Sothia was struck down with a virulent illness and she was moved out of the jungle base to an urban medical center, but she succumbed on January 11, 1990, when she was just 26 years old.

The political unit for women, the Women’s Front of the LTTE, met in May 1990, at Windsor Theater, Jaffna, presided over by Sundari, the Front’s Assistant Secretary, and resolved as follows:
1. The dowry system, which is the bane of the Tamil society and slur on the dignity of the Tamils, should be abolished.
2. The front is to fight all forms of injustice, oppression and sex discrimination in the fields of employment opportunities, education and social integration.
3. Economic plans to rehabilitate widows, orphans and other women affected by military operations.
4. Social and political awareness to be created among Tamil women to lead a crusade against social and political injustices.
5. The prevalent misconception of the role of women in society to be changed and women given equal status with men in all spheres of human activity.
6. Colonization of Tamil areas by Sinhalese and the repatriation of one lakh of hill country Tamils to India should be stopped forthwith.

The LTTE was in control of the entire North and East. At a press conference in Jaffna on April 1, 1990, the Tiger Supremo issued a statement which reflected the direction of the LTTE.

“Today our liberation struggle is facing a new historical turning point. We have successfully foiled the Indian military intervention. Now, the Indian occupation forces have completely withdrawn from our homeland. The termination of the Indian invasion is a grand victory to our struggle. The Indian forces were sent here specifically to crush our liberation struggle and to annihilate our organization which embodied the spirit of the struggle. It is for this specific reason, India unleashed a full fledged war against us. This war is a monumental event in the history of the world. For more than two years we fought a ruthless war shedding our blood against a formidable military force, a mighty power in Asia. The supreme sacrifice made by our fighters and by our people in this armed conflict has become a historical epic of heroism and courage. Our victory in this war has set an excellent example that the legitimate struggle of an oppressed people and their yearning for freedom could not be crushed by military force, however formidable it may be.

“Our people have also learnt the bitter lesson as a consequence of the Indian military intervention and the colossal damage it brought about. We have learned that we have to be self-dependent and fight our own struggle to win our rights, rather than depending on foreign powers. I am sure that all the Tamil groups, who supported Indian intervention would have realized this political truth. We are not a hostile force to the Indian Government or to the Indian people. We opposed the misguided policies of the former Indian administration and resisted the military intervention. We do not want the Government of India to interfere, politically or militarily in our problems. The policy makers in Delhi should realize that legitimate struggle of our oppressed people will not in any way contravene the geo-political concerns of India nor it will undermine the internal stability of the Indian state. We fervently hope that on the basis of this understanding the new Indian administration would make sincere efforts to restore friendly ties with our Organization. We desire the Indian Government and the people of India should support and recognize the legitimate struggle of our people.

“For nearly a year, we have been involved in peace talks with the Government of Sri Lanka. I am very pleased to note that the talks have been cordial, constructive and have progressed on the basis of mutual trust and understanding. As a direct consequence of these talks there is peace and normality. The present Sri Lanka regime seems to have realized that the racist oppression and military suppression will not bring about solution to the problems of the Tamil-speaking people. I should say that the courageous and the radical approach enunciated by President Premadasa has resulted in the present climate of peace and conciliation. We sincerely desire that the present atmosphere of peace should continue and that our people should live a life of freedom, dignity and security.

“The future depends solely on the perceptions and approaches of the Sinhala political leaders and the Sinhala masses. The Sinhalese people should realize the blunders of the past and should be prepared and should be prepared to resolve our problems on the basis of human justice and righteousness. If on the other hand, justice is denied to our people and if oppression is unleashed against our people, we will not hesitate to resume the arm struggle to uphold the freedom of our people. For a long time we have been fighting an armed struggle to advance the cause of our people. But the forms of our struggle changed in accordance with the concrete conditions and historical compulsion. Such changes in the modalities of our struggle are inevitable.

“Now we have decided to build up our party structure and to embrace democratic politics as the mode of our struggle. We will expand our organization into a mass movement and prove to the world that the Liberation Tigers are the authentic representatives of the people. We are not opposed to democratic norms and practices. We have been fighting to secure the fundamental political liberties and the democratic rights of our people. Our political objective is to build a radically new society based on social democratic freedom.

“The Sri Lankan Government should eliminate all oppressive conditions pitted against our people so that genuine democratic traditions can be best enhanced in the political mainstream offering us a substantial frame of work that would be the basis for a permanent political settlement. As a consequence, a war broke out. Even though the Government of India utilized all its military might against our movement, it miserably failed in achieving its objective of disarming us. It is a tragedy that the government of India completely disregarded the political aspirations, interests and security concerns of our people who have suffered long years of genocidal oppression, but was primarily concerned about our arms, which constituted the shield of security of our people.

“This was the Himalayan blunder made by India and she has learned a bitter historical lesson for such a misguided policy. We sincerely hope that Sri Lanka should not make such a disastrous mistake. There is peace and cessation of hostilities between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE fighters. But, the fundamental problems of our people have not been resolved. Our economy is in shambles. The towns and villages have been reduced to graveyards, as a consequence of a prolonged wars. The conditions of oppression perpetrated against our people have not been fully eradicated. The wounds of the state oppression have not been healed. Our people still live in fear and trepidation over their security in these circumstances.

“I feel sad to note that certain Sri Lankan newspapers are demanding that the LTTE should surrender arms. Instead of demanding the LTTE should surrender arms, one should objectively study and analyses as to why we took up arms and fought a protracted armed struggle for more than fifteen years. The Sinhala people should study and understand the genesis of the armed struggle of the LTTE and the concrete historical conditions that led to the growth and development of the armed resistance. We wish to say that once concrete actions are taken to remove the causes and conditions that led t the Tamil resistance, the question of arms will be settled for ever. It is a misconception to assume that the ethnic issue would be resolved once the LTTE hands over its weapons.

“It is the historical condition of oppression which created the struggle for liberation and the armed resistance became the revolutionary expression of that struggle. The question of arms cannot be resolved unless the ethnic issue is resolved amicably. I hope that the Sinhala people and the Sri Lanka Government will understand our position. Our movement will continue to struggle to secure for our people a life of freedom, peace and a prosperous future. Our movement is the only light of hope of our people. I call upon the Tamil and Muslim people to rally around our movement to strengthen it in a powerful national force.”- Sunday Times, April 8, 1990.

The LTTE by now had begun to entertain suspicions on the part of Premadasa’s genuineness and honesty. According to Adele Balasingham, “During these times I enquired from Bala in private conversation as to whether it was against the committed policy of the LTTE to seek an alternative to political independence and statehood. Bala replied that there was no contradiction in the LTTE’s political strategy. He explained to me that the ultimate objective of the LTTE was the creation of an independent state based on the right of self-determination of the Tamils when all possible alternatives for coexistence with the Sinhala people were experimented and failed.

“He said that the LTTE was deeply serious about facing the Provincial Council elections in Northeast, if Premadasa cleared the hurdles ie, dissolving the council, repealing the sixth amendment and holding fresh elections. For the LTTE, it was a radical experiment to test the feasibility of the coexistence. By seeking this alternative, the LTTE would not lose anything. If the Tigers won the elections they would transform the concepts of Tamil homeland and Tamil nationhood into concrete realities, which were their declared political ideals, Bala clarified.

“Mr Premadasa had a different agenda, a scheme of his own for tackling the LTTE. Accordingly, he delayed the dissolution of the council and postponed the prospects of a fresh election. He showed little inclination on the crucial issue of repealing the sixth amendment, arguing that securing a two-thirds majority in parliament would be an impossible task. Ultimately, the private sessions with Premadasa now served little purpose in practical politics. With great patience we listened to his lengthy sermons, on one people and one nation, where all communities could live in peace and harmony under the tripartite principles of his famous three Cs.” The Will to Freedom pages 256-257.

The national press of Sri Lanka was highlighting stories about LTTE atrocities in the North and East. The papers were full of revenge killings, extortion, heavy taxes on ordinary Tamils and the excesses of LTTE cadres. Addressing a May Day rally in Jaffna, Anton Balasingham said, “I am deeply disillusioned at attempts by the opposition parties in parliament and sections of the media to distort reality by claiming there was anarchy and chaos in the northeast. What we are doing is organizing rallies, opening party branches and mobilizing the masses for a democratic election, as normalcy and stability have returned to the Northeast after a decade of violence. It is obvious that the people were happy and relieved. The Sinhalese have a 70,000 strong military for their protection. So why can’t the Tamil speaking people have similar armed forces for their defence?

“There is true peace in the Northeast, whether it is permanent or temporary cannot be definitely predicted by anyone. Despite the restoration of peace, due to cessation of hostilities, there is no attempt to remove the suspicion between the Tamils and the Sinhalese. Those who will benefit from the permanent peace in the Northeast will be not only for the Tamils and the Government but for the Southern political parties as well. Southern political leaders and the people must have a genuine affection for the Tamil speaking people. They must grant their rights for self-determination and decide on a political future without deceit, crookedness or craftiness. That will prevent communal discord and the destruction of the country. Southern politicians have still not displayed a desire for peace in the Northeast, because of the talks between the Tigers and the Government. Certain forces are all out to destroy the goodwill that has been created by demanding the LTTE for the surrender of arms. They are trying to create trouble for the Government, by accusing the Government of being unpatriotic and allowing the LTTE to run the administration in the Northeast.”

Bradman Weerakoon clearly analyzed that the LTTE were seeking two basic demands – the dissolution of the North-East Provincial Council and the repeal of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. According to him, after the 1983 July holocaust, President J R Jayewardene promulgated the sixth amendment with the view to appeasing the Sinhala electorate that the unitary state would always be safeguarded. On the 1983 carnage of the Tamils, President Jayewardene chose to address thre nation on July 28, 1983 to make his first announcement of the cabinet decision to introduce the measure that was to effectively silence the voice of the Tamil people in parliament and in all other elected forums. In a brief address, Jayewardene blamed the violence exclusively on the reaction of the Sinhala people to the Tamil movement for a separate state The measure he announced was eventually to become the sixth amendment. This was later said by the International Commission of Jurists to be inconsistent with the Sri Lankan constitution itself, which guarantees the freedom of thought and conscience and freedom of speech and expression, the very fundamentals of democracy. According to the sixth amendment to the 1978 constitution:
1. This act may be cited as the sixth amendment to the constitution.
2. Article 101 of the constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (hereinafter referred to as the constitution) is hereby amended in sub-paragraph (h) of paragraph (1) of that article by the substitution for the words “by elections or otherwise; and”, of the words and figures “by election or otherwise or where a recognized political party or independent group has been proscribed under Article 157A ; and.”
3. The following article is hereby inserted after Article 157, and shall have the effect as Article 157A, of the constitution:-
17A (1) No person shall, directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka.
(2) No political party or other association or organization shall have one of its aims or objects the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka.

It also set out extreme disabilities for anyone or any group that contravened this provision. It also specified that every member of a local authority, development councils etc, (Provincial Councils had not come into existence at that time) would also have to take an oath declaring that they would not support, promote, advocate etc, the establishment of a separate state. This would clearly preclude the LTTE from contesting for elected office in the Provincial Council or Parliament. In fact, earlier, the TULF, which was the opposition party with 17 seats, resigned its seats in 1984 due to the introduction of the sixth amendment.

Bradman Weerakoon points out that the priority given by the LTTE to the repeal of the sixth amendment was also interesting because it reflected their intention, at that time, of contesting elections at the national and sub-national levels within the framework of the existing political system. Their ultimate goal of a separate state notwithstanding, the willingness to try working within the system was indicative of the degree of trust Premadasa was able to engender in his initial relationship with the LTTE.

Bradman Weerakoon, who served as President Premadasa’s adviser on international relations, who, when referring to the dissolution of the North-East Provincial Council, said that the LTTE laid great emphasis on the issue. Their position was that the EPRLF-led administration that had come in with the elections to the NEPC in 1988, which did not reflect the will of the electorate and which the EPRLF had won only because of the machinations of the IPKF, which had been in control of the North and East at the time.

The LTTE claimed that Varathrajah Perumal, the Chief Minister of the NEPC, was a puppet of the Indians. Their request to Premadasa was that the Council be dissolved and fresh elections called, at which point they would demonstrate that they, the LTTE, were the people’s choice in the North and East. The real political negotiations with regard to the future nature of the Sri Lankan state would take place thereafter, after they had proved to Premadasa that they had the majority support in the North East.

Though Premadasa undertook to work on the two propositions, Bradman Weerakoon stated that both issues posed serious legal and political problems.

Regarding the repeal of the sixth amendment, while J R Jayewardene, with his five-sixth majority in parliament, had introduced it with ease, Premadasa’s government did not even have the two-thirds majority necessary for a constitutional change. Much political work would have been necessary within parliament to secure such a majority. Furthermore, the important question was, would the Sinhala people have been agreeable to give a major bastion they had constitutionally secured against the break up of their state. Even Premadasa, who represented the core of Sinhala nationalism, was not certain that they would.

The constitutional amendment had been taken up in parliament in August 1983, and it was Premadasa, who was at that time prime minister, who had moved it as an urgent bill and delivered a lengthy speech. Premadasa said many times to the Sinhala people, “Trust me, I will never let you down.”

The dissolution of the NEPC also had its share of problems. According to the Provincial Council Act of 1987, the central government could not, without adequate cause, dissolve a Provincial Council. This was one of the safeguards given to the devolution of power to the provinces in the discussions which led to the Indian-Lankan accord and was thus included in the law. According to law, the dissolution had to be recommended by the Chief Minister of the Provincial Council. But, by a quirk of fate, Varatharajah Perumal provided an opportunity that Premadasa could have used, but delayed doing so. That was because of Varatharajah Perumal’s hasty declaration of a Unilateral Declaration of Independence. The dissolution needed an amendment to the Provincial Council Law, which Premadasa would have adopted in parliament as his Government had the required simple majority.

Unfortunately, after delaying the adoption of an amendment to the Provincial Council law, Premadasa adopted it in the parliament on July 7 and dissolved the North East Provincial Council, but it was too late.

Adele Balasingham writes in her The Will to Freedom, “Mr Premadasa’s secret agenda began to reveal itself when Mr Hameed paid a visit to our hotel room for a private session with Bala and opened discussion on de-commissioning the LTTE. It was very hot day in mid-May. The discussion also reached high temperature, as the subject of the discussion was very sensitive. Mr Hameed said that he was articulating the concerns and anxieties of the President. ‘Mr Premadasa wants free and fair elections in which all parties and groups, including the EPRLF, should be given the opportunity to participate in the elections. This is not possible as long as the LTTE possess arms and is exerting a dominant position in the Northeast. Therefore, the surrender of arms by the LTTE is a necessary factor to hold fresh elections. This is the view of the President and also some Ministers, particularly Ranjan Wijeratne’, Mr Hameed said softly and firmly. Bala enquired as to why the President did not raise the issue of arms when he met the LTTE delegates during his private sessions. Bala also complained since the departure of the IPKF Mr Premadasa was holding private sessions with other Tamil groups hostile to the LTTE. He explained to Mr Hameed that the possession of arms should be viewed as a crucial element of security arrangements for the Tamil people in the Northeast.

“The LTTE would be responsible for this security system if permanent peace was established through a permanent political solution. To maintain this security system and law and order, the LTTE should have trained security personnel possessing arms. The LTTE had the manpower, material and experience to provide an effective security system for the Tamil people, Bala told the perplexed chief negotiator, ‘It is premature to raise the issue of decommissioning of the LTTE when your President is not prepared to remove the obstacles for fresh elections, ie, dissolving the council and repealing the sixth amendment. Furthermore, the Provincial Council itself is not a sound basis for a permanent solution. The LTTE decided to face the Provincial Council elections as an interim arrangement, not as a permanent solution. We wanted peace and harmonious co-existence with the Sinhala people. We wanted to create democratic institutions and participate in democratic political practices. We will cooperate with the Government to hold free and fair elections providing the opportunity for all groups and parties to participate in the elections. Once we become the elected representatives of the people, we can negotiate for a permanent solution that will involve the crucial issues of a security arrangements for the Tamil people’, Bala explained.

“Mr Hameed suggested the formation of a provincial police system as an element of the provincial administrative structure transforming the guerrillas into police officers. ‘Even if that were possible, the LTTE would need more men and more arms to raise a police force of 10,000 men for the North-East,’ Bala said. In that case, Bala told Mr Hameed sarcastically, the president had to provide even more arms to the LTTE police force. Thus, the discussion that started out on the issue of disarming the LTTE ended with the notion of re-arming the Tigers. Mr Hameed looked dejected when he left our hotel room.” – pages 257-258.

Meanwhile, the EPRLF delegation led by Suresh Premachandra, a Member of Parliament, had a few rounds of negotiation with Ranjan Wijeratne, the Minister of State for Defence. Bradman Weerakoon, the International Affairs adviser to the President, assisted Ranjan Wijeratne in the negations. Other members of the EPRLF delegation included P Kirupakaran, the Minister of Finance in the EPRLF-dominated NEP government and V Yogasangari, the Jaffna district EPRLF MP.

On May 15, 1990, the Government agreed to place the 19 demands put forward by the EPRLF central committee in February before the All Party Conference. These were the same proposals that were also presented to M Karunanidhi, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, and also mentioned by Varathrajah Perumal when he declared unilateral independence.

The LTTE expressed displeasure as the Government had initiated dialogue with the EPRLF. The LTTE believed that they were the sole representatives of the Tamils. It was said that the Government’s initiative to have dialogue with the EPRLF was also one of the reasons attributed to the souring of the Government-LTTE relationship. In the meantime, the LTTE leadership branded the EPRLF as “traitors” and ordered their assassination.

On May 22, the LTTE demanded that the Government expedite the dissolution of the North-East Provincial Council and hold fresh elections. Also, the LTTE demanded that the Government repeal the sixth amendment.

As the LTTE’s overtures became more virulent, on May 23, A-C S Hameed arrived in Jaffna and met Ajit Mahattaya, Anton Balasingham, Yogaratnam Yogi, Bhanu and Jeya of the women’s wing. The talks lasted for over five hours and they were said to have focused on bringing greater understanding between the LTTE and the law enforcement authorities, rehabilitation programs and also strengthening the administrative machinery of the North-Eastern Province.

The LTTE delegation expressed its displeasure at the Government for taking steps to talk with the EPRLF. The LTTE delegates explained to Hameed that, the EPRLF did not represent the aspirations of the Tamils. The Chief Negotiator of the Government, A C S Hameed, explained, “The Government of Premadasa is committed to resolving all issues through consultation, compromise and consensus, and for this purpose, consultation with all groups is essential.” He added, “The Government talking to the EPRLF is in no way diminished or devalued the importance of the negotiations that the Government was having with the LTTE.” However, it seemed that the LTTE was not convinced with the explanation and continued to express displeasure about the Government-EPRLF talks.

On May 24, Ranjan Wijeratne, Minister of State for Defense, told that fresh elections to the North-East Provincial Council would not be held unless the LTTE laid down its arms. At a post-Cabinet press briefing, Ranjan Wijeratne emphasized, “We are not prepared to hold elections at gunpoint. Free and fair elections could not be held unless they lay down their arms. If the LTTE claims that they are the sole representatives of the Tamil speaking people, then they should prove by contesting elections, which will be held after the surrender of arms.”

He added, “There will be no further talks with the EPRLF with the Government. Instead, the EPRLF will participate in the All Party Conference and put forward their 19 point proposal.” The LTTE had kept away from the previous two rounds of the All-Party Conference.

Meanwhile, Nalin Senivaratne, the Governor of the North-East Provincial Council, submitted a report to the President on the dissolution of the Provincial Council, which the LTTE was demanding. The LTTE felt that it had been led into a “peace trap blind alley” by the Government. When the government put out feelers about the annulment of the sixth amendment, it became very clear that the opposition parties, including the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, were opposed to the annulment of the amendment.

Again, A C S Hameed flew to Jaffna on May 28, 1990, to meet the LTTE leaders. This time Hameed, on behalf of the Government, took up with the LTTE, issues ranging from collecting taxes, abducting Indian fishermen in the high seas and extorting ransom for their release, killing elephants for ivory, logging timber and issuing permits for the transport of such timber. The Government also told the LTTE not to arrest Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan territorial waters. The Sri Lankan Government directed the navy either to capture or destroy any unauthorized vessels which entered or attempted to leave Sri Lankan territorial waters. This directive was given to preempt gun-running by militant groups and to prevent clashes between Indian fishermen and the LTTE.

On June 1, the LTTE delegation met President Premadasa at his Sucharitha residence. It consisted of Mahattaya, Anton Balasingham, Adele Balasingham, Yogaratnam Yogi and Jeya, the leader of the women’s wing. Premadasa assured that “early action would be taken to fill the vacuum in the Northeast Provincial Council, enabling the public in the province to exercise their franchise and choose their representatives in a fair election.” The LTTE delegation urged the President to take steps to dissolve the Provincial Council immediately and hold fresh elections so that the political machinery in the Northeast could be set in motion. They also pointed out to the President that the sixth amendment had so far helped to divide the country on ethnic lines, therefore they advocated that it had to be repealed forthwith to end any further divisions in the country. A-C S Hameed was with the President when the LTTE delegation met him.

On June 2, Anton Balasingham and Yogaratnam Yogi met a Government delegation comprising A C S Hameed, General Cyril Ranatunge – Secretary for Defense, Walter Fernando – State Secretary for Defence, General Hamilton Wanasinghe – the Army Commander, Vice Marshal W S Gunawardene – Commodore, D S A Silva – Navy Commander, Earnest Perera – IGP at the Ministry of Higher Education. At this meeting it was reported that the LTTE delegation assured the Government that its cadres would not interfere in the working of the state law and order machinery in the North and East. It was also decided to hold meetings between the law enforcement authorities and the LTTE cadres, at the district level, to sort out specific problems.

The ground situation continued to deteriorate. On June 4, the Government and an LTTE delegation visited Batticaloa. Hameed told Anton Balasingham and the other LTTE delegates and the LTTE leaders in Batticaloa, “It is the bounden duty of the Government to protect all the people and nobody could be allowed to interfere with the law and order machinery.” Hameed further emphasized, “only an unhindered and unobstructed law and order system could ensure the full protection and security of the people.”

Then, on June 7, the LTTE killed a Sri Lankan soldier and injured 10 others in Thandikulam, one mile north of Vavuniya. The incident took place when an army convoy failed to stop at a barrier manned by the LTTE. In the clash that ensued six LTTE cadres were wounded.

Bradman Weerakoon, who was Premadasa’s adviser on international relations, wrote about the available options for Premadasa to deal with the Tigers after the withdrawal of the IPKF, “His final option could have been straight out of Machiavelli or more likely to his idiom, Kautilya. That was, that after the IPKF was out of the way and out of the country, he would turn the refreshed and renewed Sri Lankan forces on the weary LTTE, rout them completely, eliminate Prabakaran and reestablish ‘law and order, good governance, peace and prosperity’ over the North and East and the whole of Sri Lanka.

“I am inclined to think that in his final grand design this last option would have been very appealing. It was certainly vigorously articulated by his Deputy Minister of Defense Mr Ranjan Wijeratne, soon after the war restarted in June 1990. ‘No half way house with me,’ he said. Now I am going all out for the LTTE. We will annihilate them.” Negotiating Peace in Sri Lanka: Efforts, Failures and Lessons Edited by Dr Kumar Rupesinghe (former brother-in-law of Chandrika Kumaratunge, President Sri Lanka, and the Secretary General of International Alert) – page 155.

It was generally clear that the president was on a confrontation course. As Bradman Weerakoon had pointed out, Premadasa chose the military option to eliminate the LTTE. Without warning, it seems that, he had authorized the Sri Lankan armed forces to move freely and assert their authority in the country. After May 1990, fresh contingents of troops and additional police were moved to the districts in the East to strengthen and fortify military bases and police stations. As the Sri Lankan troops began to intensify patrolling, tension mounted between the Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE.

Premadasa favored a solution within the unitary state. As he was a strong nationalist he was of course opposed to any alternative models to unitary polity. Having crushed the JVP rebellion and secured the withdrawal of the IPKF, Premadasa faced a new dilemma. It was how to deal with the LTTE. Already, he had tactfully utilized them and put them under the peace trap. Premadasa knew that it could not go on for ever. A final decision on how to deal with the LTTE had to be taken. It was still possible to embrace the LTTE peacefully in the democratic political mainstream, but for which he would have to repeal the sixth amendment. He, as a Sinhala supremacist, was not keen on getting rid of the hold the Sinhala nationalists had on the Tamil separatists. Therefore he had to look for another alternative, and that was a confrontation and the military suppression of the LTTE. Premadasa’s hard-line ministers and the military establishment favoured the confrontation option and he yielded to their pressure.

An interesting episode that foreboded the forthcoming period is worth recording. Major General Sarath Munasinghe, in his A Soldier’s Version, wrote of the intimidating event that was to herald the period of war and bloodshed within a few days, as follows, “Major General Stanley Silva, the General Officer Commanding troops in the north travelled from Anuradhapura to Palaly by air on May 22, 1990. Lt Col Chula Senivaratne, the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Signal Regiment accompanied the General. The purpose was to hold a conference at Palaly. Brig Jaliya Nammuni, the Brigade Commander in Jaffna, received the General.

“The conference was over by noon, and the general was in a hurry to get back to Anuradhapura. Unfortunately for the general, the air force informed that there was no aircraft available. The general was adamant and decided to proceed by road. Accordingly, the general got into a jeep driven by Brig Nammuni. Chula Senivaratne was in the second vehicle driven by another officer. The vehicles were stopped by the LTTE at Vasavilan Junction, just outside the Palaly army base. Kannan of the LTTE was quick to inform that permission was not granted for the military vehicles to proceed. Chula Senivaratne got off of his vehicle and explained matters to Kannan. Chula knew that Kannan could not have given permission without consulting Bhanu, the LTTE area leader. While this discussion was going on the first jeep carrying the general suddenly took off. Kannan started shouting at his cadres to open fire at the jeep. Chula Senivaratne managed to prevent a confrontation and convinced Kannan that they had to proceed towards Jaffna. The two jeeps proceeded.

“Having visited troops in Jaffna Fort, the General and party were on their way out of the Jaffna town. The LTTE had set up a roadblock near the Jaffna Kachcheri. One LTTE member shouted ‘halt’ and the jeeps stopped. Kannan was at the roadblock. Chula Senivaratne spoke to Kannan again. Kannan consulted his leader Bhanu over the radio. Quick came the answer. ‘If Brigadier Nammuni is there, give them permission to proceed under escort’.

“A van load of LTTE cadres escorted the two jeeps up to Palai, along Jaffna- Kandy road. The two jeeps were close to Mankulam when a SLAF helicopter landed to pick up the general. Although the general was reluctant, the other officers persuaded him to board the helicopter. The two jeeps carrying Brig Nammuni and others were escorted by the LTTE to Palai to Palaly on their return journey. Many officers discussed this episode. While the few were of the opinion that the General should not have travelled by road, the majority of officers were lamenting over the fact that the general had to obtain permission from the LTTE.” – pages 98-100.

Annexe: The Tamil Nadu-LTTE connection

Courtesy: Charu Lata Joshi in Outlook, June 4 1997
Source: Assignment Colombo by J N Dixit
It could turn out to be the most shocking fallout of the Rs1.336 crore Indian Bank scam – even shutting out the Congress and TMC (Tamil Manila Congress) links temporarily. The CBI, probing the multi-crore bungle, is now engaged in following strong leads suggesting that a significant chunk of the finances arbitrarily released by the bank under former CMD (Chairman and Managing Director) M Gopalakrishnan, may have been used to fund the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Specific “information” currently in the process of being verified by the CBI indicates that Indian Bank’s leading overseas defaulter, Singapore-based NRI and cashew nut exporter Muthukrishna Varatha Raja (MVR), whose liability to the bank totals Rs 375 crore, diverted money received from the bank to certain front companies allegedly belonging to the LTTE.

What is significant here is that not only did Indian Bank blatantly violate set norms in sanctioning advances to MVR’s Benami (front) companies – as brought out in the 10 cases that the CBI has so far registered against the MVR Group – but that it also did not monitor the manner in which these funds were mis-utilised.

For the CBI, the probe centres not so much around commercial losses incurred by the bank but on establishing criminal liability. The agency is verifying source information, backed up by intelligence records, to sharpen its focus on inquiry on the end-use of funds sanctioned by the bank to MVR. Leads under investigation by the CBI, which are available to Outlook, show that MVR extended financial support to individuals and companies belonging to the LTTE.

While MVR vehemently denies the charges, CBI insiders are confident of nailing the nexus. What has heightened suspicious is MVR’s own background. His father, N P Muthukrishna Naidu- a former Thanjavur district Congress President – controlled an extensive textile trade in Sri Lanka. And as leads currently being probed by the CBI show, the links continue.

The CBI has in its records information which shows that MVR owns five benami companies in Rotterdam: Hamilton Ventures Pvt Ltd; Nutworld Trading; Globelnut; Richardson & Rogers Ltd.; and Dutch Flag Ltd. All transactions from these companies are conducted through Bank Mss Pierson, Rotterdam, and the CBI has received information that certain remittances from Dutch Flag. A shipping company registered in Rotterdam, have been made to an outfit called Marine Shipping & Trading Ltd. The investigating agency is trying to verify this information.

It is in this context that the information received from various intelligence agencies puts the CBI on the Tigers’ trail. For, Marine Shipping & Trading Ltd is believed to be a front company of the LTTE. Records with the intelligence agencies show that Kumaran Padamanabha (KP) is the director of this company. KP, a Switzerland- based relative of LTTE Supremo V Prabhakaran, who is the chief arms procurer for the Tigers, was also suspected of having supplied explosives to Chennai from Singapore for Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. The company, incidentally, is registered at Le Pollet St, Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands, and intelligence information shows that this company financed the purchase of various ships used for smuggling activities by the LTTE.

Mystifyingly, Indian Bank continued to extend credit facilities to Mountemount – which is yet another of MVR’s benami companies in Singapore. In fact, in an affidavit filed before the Madras High Court recently, the Enforcement Directorate pointed out, “The quality claims made by MVR’s company Mountemount were raised only during January and February 1996 for shipments made between 1991 and 1995. This was to enable fraudulent declarations so that the amounts due to be paid in settlement of quality claims were adjusted against export proceeds receivable by the Indian companies.”

Further, information with the CBI shows that an overdraft of $28 million was released by Indian Bank to Mountemount for business payments to be made to the five benami companies. Curiously, the bank did not conduct any scrutiny on these companies in Rotterdam to establish whether the transactions were genuine or not.

What appears as a complex maze of transactions could have actually worked quite simply: MVR drew heavy loans from Indian Bank’s Singapore branch, allegedly for payments to his own benami companies in Rotterdam. The bank released the funds without any verification. Money from one of these companies then found its way to an LTTE front company. But given the manner in which Indian Bank conducted its business under Gopalakrishnan, such violations are hardly surprising. A recent report submitted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to the Banks Securities and Fraud Cell of the CBI shows how the Chairman made arbitrary donations to the tune of RS. 10 crore during 1991-96 alone.

Another aspect of the CBI’s inquiry relates to MVR’s association and allege transaction with P V Rajendran, a TMC MP who won the last Lok Sabha election from Mayalladuthurai. As per the agency’s FIR, MVR’s Chennai-based company, MVR Exports, illegally received credit and overdraft facilities to the tune of Rs 71 crore from Indian Bank’s Chennai and Singapore branches. The CBI is verifying source information that MVR exports actually diverted funds to certain front companies maintained by Rajendran. While MVR says he knows Rajendran since both belong to Thanjavur, he denies any financial dealings with him. For his part, Rajendran told Outlook, “I received Rs 15 lakh for an aquaculture business from Indian Bank in 1993, which I am repaying. But I have had no financial dealing with MVR.”

Incidentally, intelligence dossiers provide reasons to suspect Rajendran of having links with the LTTE. The Special Investigation Team (IST) handling the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case had listed him among suspects. Reasons: his reported closeness with Shanmugam, a resident of Vedaranyam, Tamil Nadu, and kingpin of LTTE’s smuggling operations who committed suicide soon after he was arrested by the IST in November 1991. Intelligence reports also give precise details of Rajendran’s associates in Thanjavur district who are suspected to be LTTE members. Prominent among these are Sabapathy alias Chokkan, a suspect in the Rajiv case who thrived on the smuggling routes from Vedaranyam to the northern Sri Lanka coast. Rajendran, however, denies the allegation but does admit: “I did support LTTE when Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were doing so. Not anymore.”

The CBI is trying to obtain details of MVR’s precise financial transactions with other companies in India and abroad. But insiders in the agency suspect that such transactions were largely conducted through hawala channels and would not be represented in company records. Besides, the trial got murky well before the Rajiv assassination. Source information with the CBI indicates that in 1990 Rajendran received Rs 5 crore as a loan from Indian Bank to start a nuts and bolts factory. The charge, currently being probed, is that no company was started and that Rajendran could have used the funds o purchase ships for the LTTE. Rajendran, as said earlier, denies any linkages now.

The Bank Securities and Fraud Cells is verifying information that a Mumbai-based hawala operator has been diverting money belonging to MVR (received largely from Indian Bank), Adnan Khashoggi and Chadraswami to various accounts abroad. It has, in fact, verified the charge that Chadraswami was closely linked to the Singapore businessman and stayed at his penthouse at Peace Mansion, off Serangoon, on at least two occasions, during his visits to Singapore in 1992 and 1994.

Proximity to the powers that be is something MVR does not deny. It is perhaps to these factors that he owes his rise. In 1962, as a graduate from Pachaiyappa College in Chennai, he wound up his father’s textile business to start a cashew export venture. The plans were grandiose: import raw cashews, process them in India and export the finished product to the same companies in South Africa, Europe and US. But it was only in 1985 that he got his first big break when Indian Bank sanctioned a Rs 123 crore loan to his company, MVR Export. This despite the fact that he had earlier defaulted on the repayment of two car loans from the same bank.

The get-rich-quick streak continued. For MVR, public sector banks became a convenient dipping pool. In ’86 he touched the Bank of Baroda (Mumbai Main Branch), the Indian Overseas Bank (Janpath branch, New Delhi) and Canara Bank (Ambuchetty branch, Chennai) for a loan of Rs 2.86 crore, by pledging the same stock. The loans (now declared non-performing assets by the RBI) were granted without even a basic verification of the stock.

Funds continued to be raised by the MVR Group through its benami companies in blatant violation of banking rule and despite the fact that MVR had continued to default on repayment, not just from Indian Bank but from banks across the world. Strangely, these loans were advanced on specific recommendations made by Indian Bank’s Singapore branch.

Consider this. On September 29, 1995, Indian Bank wrote to Mountemount asking for its audited accounts, securities and clearance of overdue bills. Exactly two months later, on November 29, Vijayaraghavan Parikasami, a director at Mountemount, wrote to Indian Bank’s Singapore branch, asking them to furnish a letter of recommendation for the Project Funding Group, Dubai, which the MVR Group had approached for a loan. The bank obliged. The very same day, the bank’s assistant credit manager, M. Nachiappan, wrote back forwarding a flattering letter of recommendation. In an intriguing sequence of events, the Dubai bank did not extend the facility, but Indian Bank’s Chennai branch extended a loan of Rs 5 crore to Anderson Industries International Ltd, a Benami company MVR set up in Chennai, on the basis of the same letter.

Insiders in banking circles link MVR’s closeness to TMC leader G K Moopanar and Gopalakrishnan as the reasons behind his long financial reach. Recent investigations by the CBI too have brought the complicity of at least two cabinet ministers – both belonging to the TMC – to light. But what cannot be overlooked is the fact that Indian Bank’s largesse cut across party lines. A report examining the reasons behind the eight extensions granted to Goplalkrishnan during 1993-95 is being prepared by a Committee of Secretaries under the chairmanship of the cabinet secretary. The initial findings show that neither the then finance minister, Manmohan Singh, nor the then cabinet secretary, Zafar Saifullah, was in favour of the extensions. Yet he got them. the orders on all occasions had come from the PMO. Which begs the question: will MVR’S friends in high places be able to bail him out?

Next: Eelam war

###

Further reading:

  1. Dharmaratnam Sivaram
  2. Tamil Women Freedom Fighters
  3. Sri Lanka: The Untold Story, Chapter 16

Posted September 6th, 2019.

Filed under History.

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Sri Lanka: The Untold Story, Chapter 43
Aftermath of the Indian withdrawal

by K T Rajasingham, ‘Asian Times,’ Singapore, 2002

Chapter 1

Chapter 42

Biju Patnaik

Indian interference in Sri Lankan politics came to a final halt when the last of the Indian Peacekeeping Forces (IPKF) left the territorial waters of Sri Lanka on March 24, 1990. Maverick Indian Prime Minister Viswanath Pratab Singh, the Machiavellian External Affairs Minister Inder Kumar Gujral and the macabre Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, contributed their bits individually and collectively to end the regional aspirations of India, cultured, nurtured and propagated by Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. The idea of Indian regional supremacy was decimated by the newly emerged trio in the Indian international political arena.

On March 6, 1990, two chartered ships, the Hrshavardan and the Tipu Sultan arrived at the port of Madras, with 1,375 members and supporters of the EPRLF, but Karunanidhi refused them entry, because they carried anti-LTTE Tamils. The ships were subsequently diverted to Vishakapatnam in Andhara Pradesh and Biju Patnaik, the Congress party Chief Minister of Orissa, agreed to take them as refugees in his state. They were sent to Makangiri by road from Vishakapatnam.

On March 11, Mahabaharat – an Il-76 Soviet-made aircraft – carried from Trincomalee 275 persons, including the EPRLF General Secretary, K Patmanabah and the two Tamil ministers of the North-East Provincial Government and others, to Bhubaneswar, in Orissa state.

IN 32 months in Sri Lanka, the IPKF lost 1,115 soldiers and 2,984 were injured. From July 29, 1987, the IPKF operations in Sri Lanka were also a big drain on the Indian Exchequer. Nearly 50 million Indian rupees were spent a day. Further, it was estimated that the IPKF killed more than 5,000 Tamil civilians, some accidentally, but often deliberately and mostly as reprisals, during their stay in the North and East of Sri Lanka. When they left, the IPKF claimed that they had released nearly 472 LTTE cadres captured and held in their custody, but they failed to reveal the details of those who died in their captivity.

According to some independent sources, which could not be confirmed, it was reported that, the LTTE lost nearly 2,500 of its cadres, and 1,500 were wounded.

When the IPKF reached India, they returned unnoticed, a sad end to India’s biggest-ever military overseas expedition. At the port of Madras, Dr P C Alexander, the Tamil Nadu Governor, Dr Raja Ramanna, the Minister of State for Defence, and a small number of civilians were present.

Karunanidhi and the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kalagam) political leaders boycotted the welcome ceremony, saying that their presence would jeopardize their political position with the Tamils in the state. “The humiliation was not in Sri Lanka, but in India,” said Lieutenant-General A S Kalkat, the IPKF Commanding Officer in an interview given to rediff.com – an Indian news website. “India’s Vietnam: IPKF in Sri Lanka 10 years on. Yes. There was some feeling in my soldiers. The humiliation was not in Sri Lanka, because there was no humiliation. The humiliation came when we came back to India. The question people asked was, Why did we go there, what were you doing there? When you send soldiers to such an area, you don’t ask them these questions, you don’t ask them what were you doing there. Those are things that you should have sorted out earlier.

“No, never. But when the public started saying this, and the soldier starts hearing it, he gets hurt. And the main thing was the so-called boycott of IPKF soldiers, when they arrived at Madras port. I think that was a needless act. It was no good. I think the DMK was [then in power in Tamil Nadu] the one, they boycotted it. The Government in India did the right thing, they said if they will not participate in the welcome, fine, we will send our people from here.

“So the Defense Minister that time, Raja Ramanna, came from Delhi and others came from Delhi. Governor of the state Dr [P C] Alexander was there. But that leaves a bad taste. It could have been avoided because it was not conveying anything to me.”

Earlier, George Fernandes, the present Defence Minister of India, who was then a Member of Parliament, a firebrand, warned of “India’s Vietnam”. He said, “When in early August 1987, I had said that Mr Rajiv Gandhi’s military adventure in Sri Lanka would be India’s Vietnam I had not anticipated that India’s Vietnam would also have its own My Lai.”

Meanwhile, it was alleged that the reason that Karunanidhi turned hostile towards the IPKF when they arrived in Madras was to please his LTTE patrons in Sri Lanka. Karunanidhi, born on June 3, 1924, at Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu, was first elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly, Tamil Nadu, on the DMK ticket, to represent Kulithalai, in 1957. After that, he had never been defeated in any assembly elections. In 1967, when C N Annadurai, the erstwhile leader of the DMK, formed the first DMK Government, Karunanidhi was sworn in as the Minister for Public Works. In 1969, when Annadurai succumbed to cancer, Karunanidhi succeeded him as Chief Minister. He held this position in 1969-71; 1971-1976 and from January 1989. It was alleged that Karunanidhi received, for election expenses, 40,000,000 Indian rupees from the LTTE.

According to Rohan Gunaratna, in his Indian Intervention Sri Lanka,he writes, “With the death of the godfather, Ramachandran’s rival Karunanidhi filled the void in Tamil Nadu. In July 1983, Karunanidhi, who had always advocated Eelam, had resigned his seat in the Legislative Assembly to draw attention to the ‘genocides of the Tamils’. Initially, he was a strong supporter of Sri Sabaratnam, the leader of TELO and used TELO cadres as his private army. Following Sri Sabaratnam’s assassination in May 1986, by the LTTE, Karunanidhi said, ‘After this, I will not speak about Sri Lankan Tamils’. The manner in which the LTTE befriended Karunanidhi, who was already sympathetic towards Tamil militants and the cause of Eelam, but not all that well disposed towards Prabakaran, is no more a secret. The LTTE leadership donated Indian rupees 40,000,000 [Indian Rs 4 crore] for the patron. Karunanidhi accepted the money and thereafter even opened the half closed doors of Tamil Nadu to the LTTE. The fact that LTTE was a private army of Ramachandran, his former political opponent, or that they were warring with the Indian army and that so many Indians had been killed or maimed by the LTTE did not matter to Karunanidhi. In return LTTE supported him, both politically and personally.

“When the author interviewed Karunanidhi in Madras on the eve of the IPKF offensive on the LTTE, he was bitter with the LTTE for having obliterated TELO, but made no attempt to hide the fact that he was totally for Eelam. But, within an year, Karunanidhi who was a strong supporter of TELO, EROS and EPRLF, extended his whole-hearted cooperation to the LTTE. The man changed primarily after the LTTE financed his election campaign. Karunanidhi also thought that his association with Prabakaran would be more profitable than his association with the other militant leaders. Even Indian intelligence reported that Karunanidhi’s election campaign, which made him the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, was financed by LTTE funds and LTTE gold reserves. For Prabakaran and LTTE, it was a profitable investment. Indian intelligence also reported that, today Karunanidhi as under obligation to the LTTE. Later, Prabakaran was to say that any government in power should have a good relationship with LTTE.” – page 420.

It came to light that, during that period, the LTTE managed to buy off many politicians and senior bureaucrats and it had unlimited power and authority from the judiciary to the Chief Minister’s secretariat. If a Sri Lankan youth was arrested for carrying lethal weapons and if the youth was an LTTEer, immediately an order would come for his release. Whenever an LTTE cadre was apprehended and subsequently released, it became the unwritten edict for the police officer to apologize to the LTTE cadre before being released. Gradually, the police and customs officials knew that they had to apologize to the LTTE cadres, otherwise they would be transferred to another station or to an inactive post and victimized in many other ways.

J N Dixit in his book Assignment Colombo wrote, “The last contingent of the IPKF which reached Madras was subjected to extraordinary ungrateful treatment by the Tamil Nadu government of Karunanidhi. Our forces which had loyally taken up the thankless tasks in the larger interest of India and Sri Lanka, which had fought a war in which they were subjected to inhibitions and restraints and in which they had sacrificed several hundreds of their members in fatal and other causalities was not given any welcome by Karunanidhi. The pro-LTTE elements had gone to the extent of describing the IPKF as the ‘Indian Tamil Killing Force;’ and accused it of all sorts of unacceptable behavior without any reason. It showed the kind of people we are that who cannot even honor and respect their soldiers whom their own elected Government had sent on a mission, at short notice, without even giving the force time enough to prepare itself fully for the task to which it was assigned. The LTTE brought out a publicity monograph titled ‘The Indian Satanic Force’ against the IPKF. It contained scurrilous and baseless allegations against the Indian army which were bandied about in Tamil Nadu.” – pages 292-293.

The Jain Commission in its report was also critical of the Karunanidhi-LTTE nexus. It states in its “Political Criticism of the Militant Activities in Tamil Nadu: Jan-June 1990”:

“55.2 The continuing unhindered activities of the LTTE came under persistent criticism from various quarters and were increasingly becoming a cause of embarrassment to the political leadership of Tamil Nadu.

“In the State Assembly, the LTTE activities and allegations of state inaction dominated the debates where the DMK party came under severe indictment for allowing the LTTE activities in Tamil Nadu which were disturbing the peace of the state and causing hardships, particularly to the fishermen on Tamil Nadu coastal belt.

“The stand of the DMK president and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Shri M Karunanidhi in the State Assembly, castigating the role of the IPKF in Sri Lanka, came under fire in the assembly. Shri Karunanidhi had declined to attend a function organized for welcoming the IPKF and in the assembly he announced that he was not prepared to receive any army that had killed 5,000 Tamils. The ruling party also came under severe criticism for not being able to protect the Indian Tamil fishermen in the waters of the Palk Straits. A larger number of fishermen were regularly reported to have been abducted by the LTTE who would issue warnings to them before releasing them. There were also reports of constant harassment of fishermen by the LTTE and even information regarding the existence of an LTTE-controlled extortion racket.

“This was an issue where Indian citizens of Tamil Nadu were being held at ransom by the LTTE right under the nose of the Tamil Nadu administration and the State Government, in turn, was justifying LTTE action and warning its own citizens to desist from returning into the sea in pursuit of their only livelihood.

“The refusal of Shri Karunanidhi to allow non-LTTE Sri Lankan Tamil refugees to enter Tamil Nadu was a cause for further criticism; MLAs of the opposition parties castigated the callousness of the Chief Minister in refusing succor and hospitality for other Tamil militants.

“The AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kalagam) and the Congress (I) were not the only parties who raised the issue of LTTE-DMK nexus in the assembly. Members of the assembly belonging to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) were equally vociferous.

“The CPI (M) in the assembly is reported to have stated that it was alleged in parliament that the LTTE had taken control of the coastal areas and was terrorizing the local customs officials, police and fisherman. CPI (M) MLA Shri W R Varadarajan said that an impression was gaining ground that the LTTE men were roaming about in the state and urged the Chief Minister to explain the actual position.

“Faced with such strident criticism in the State Assembly, Sri Karunanidhi, on May 8, 1990, on the floor of the assembly, is reported to have accused the Research and Analysis wing (R&AW) of trying to create a rift between the center and the state and appealed to the Prime Minister to take appropriate action. He alleged that the R&AW, which was responsible in the past for creating divisions among various Tamil groups of Sri Lanka, was doing the same between the center and the state.

“However, this allegation of Shri Karunanidhi was denied by the then Prime Minister Shri V P Singh, who, in a press conference held on May 11, 1990, reportedly stated that the R&AW was not engaged in any such activity.

“55.2.1 Even in the parliament, it appears, the issue was causing concern and had been taken up by various political parties. This development appears to have caused further apprehension in the mind of Shri M Karunanidhi, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, who, as per the intelligence reports, made efforts to ensure that his point of view could be projected before the parliament forcefully. It appears that Shri M Karunanidhi was tipped off by Union Minister P Upendra on May 14, 1990 that the Lok Sabha was likely to discuss notices served by Congress-I and BJP MPs regarding the alleged activities of the LTTE in Tamil Nadu and the DMK’s support to the LTTE. Reports indicate that Shri M Karunanidhi continued denying the allegations that, the LTTE was giving arms training to DK/DMK youths in Tamil Nadu and that the LTTE was behind the law and order problems in Tamil Nadu. He continued to propagate the view that these allegations were baseless and were aimed to create a wedge between the center and the DMK government. He also explained to Shri P Upendra the alleged atrocities committed by the IPKF on the LTTE and innocent Tamils, particularly at Velvettithurai during the IPKF operations on August 2-4, 1989 and justified his absence from participating in the reception to the IPKF at Madras. To substantiate his argument he presented Shri P Upendra a copy of the Tamil booklet prepared in December 1989 by the LTTE under the caption “Massacre at Velvettithurai”, with a foreword by George Fernandes.

“55.3 While the political compulsions forced Shri M Karunanidhi to take an anti-LTTE anti-militancy stance in public, reports of the period indicate that this posture of Shri Karunanidhi caused serious apprehensions among the LTTE leadership. Intelligence reports of the period suggest that the LTTE, at this stage, sought to seek assurances from the chief minister that their activities in Tamil Nadu shall not come under the state crackdown.

“Contemporaneous reports of the Intelligence Bureau specifically state that after the announcement of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister in the assembly that he would not allow LTTE propaganda in the state, Subramaniam alias Baby, an important LTTE leader in Tamil Nadu, met Shri M Karunanidhi and sought a clarification on this. Shri Karunanidhi reportedly assured him that his announcement in the assembly regarding a ban on propaganda would apply only to people like P Nedumaran (TNM) and Nagaimugam, who were trying to entwine Sri Lankan politics with Tamil Nadu.

“The reports also suggest that the LTTE operatives in Tamil Nadu were also given reassurances by some officers of the “Q” Branch, CID of the state police, that they could continue to carry out their propaganda activities unhindered.

“The plausibility of the above events becomes credible when seen in the light of the deposition of Shri Karunanidhi before the commission where he admitted that he was supporting the LTTE and withdrew his support only after the LTTE killed Padmanabha, the Secretary General, EPRLF, at Madras on June 19, 1990.”
(Deposition of Shri M Karunanidhi, dated 17-1-97)

The latest Tamil Nadu-LTTE connection is given at the end of this chapter as an annex, which also serves as a follow-up to the annex to Chapter 42.

Meanwhile, on March 28, 1990, Sri Lankan Prime Minister D B Wijetunga resigned with effect from March 30, thus dissolving the Cabinet and by law, paving the way for the President to appoint a 26-member cabinet along with 23 project ministers and 29 ministers of state on 30 March.

President Ranasinghe Premadasa got rid of Gamini Dissanayake and instead, made Ranjan Wijeratne Plantation Industries Minister, and he continued to hold the post of Minister of State for Defence and Harold Heart, a newcomer and had earlier been a minister without cabinet status, was sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

A C S Hameed was allotted the Justice portfolio and he also retained higher education, which was a ministerial portfolio without cabinet status. At the same time, Vincent Perera was relieved of justice, but he retained parliamentary affairs and remained the Chief Government Whip, but in addition he was given environment.

Lalith Athulathmudali, who had earlier been in charge of agriculture, food and cooperatives, was given Education and Higher Education and Agriculture and Research was given to R M Dharmasena Banda. Food and Cooperatives went to Weerasinghe Mallimarachchi, who had been the District Minister of Colombo. W J M Locku Bandara, who was earlier the Minister of Education, Cultural affairs and Information, was relieved of education but retained the other two portfolios.

S Thondaman was given the additional charge of Tourism along with Rural Industrial Development, but his Textiles went to U B Wijekoon, along with Handloom Industries, while his Public Administration, Provincial Councils and Home Affairs went to Festus Perera in the new shake-up, but Power and Energy went to K D M C. Bandara. Those ministers who retained their portfolios were: President Ranasinghe Premadasa – Minister of Buddha Sasana, Policy Planning and Implementation and Defense. D B Wijetunge – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. Ranil Wickremasinghe – Industries, Science and Technology and Leader of the House. Srisena Coorey – Housing and Construction; Mrs. Renuka Herath – Health and Women’s Affairs; C Nanda Mathew – Youth Affairs and Sports; Wijepala Mendis – Transport and Highways; M Joseph Michael Perera – Fisheries and Aquatic Research and P Dayaratne – Land, Irrigation and Mahaweli Development.

Meanwhile, Abdul Razak Munsoor was given, along with Trade, Commerce portfolios, but, Port along with Shipping was assigned to Rupasena Karunatilake.

Despite these changes, A C S Hameed remained as the leader of the Government delegation that was negotiating with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The entire ground situation had changed, once the IPKF left Sri Lanka. The LTTE decimated its opponents, the Tamil National Army (TNA), and was ensconced in the North and East.

A C S Hameed flew to Palaly airport, Jaffna, to meet the LTTE delegation for talks. And Yogaratnam Yogi was at the airport to meet him. But, a Sri Lankan soldier, at the sight of Yogi, opened fire at him. Yogi managed to escape unscathed and the soldier was immediately arrested. Later, Hameed met the LTTE delegation, which told him, “Our leader wants to meet you.”

Hameed went with his security officer for the meeting with the LTTE delegation led by Prabakaran, the Tiger Supremo. Subsequently, Prabakaran suggested to Hameed that he stay over in Jaffna a few more days, as the LTTE leader was very keen meet him more often. Later, Hameed said, “Prabakaran was charming and did not give the impression of being rough or unreasonable. Nevertheless, Prabakaran dominated the conversation. One made the decision and the finality was his own monopoly.”

Hameed misunderstood the position of Prabakaran, when he remarked, “One made the decision and the finality was his own monopoly.” Prabakaran was the leader of a militant organization which functioned like an army. LTTE cadres always carried out orders when “General” Prabakaran gave them. The LTTE was not a political organization and it did not believe in the democratic forms and structure. As it was a militant outfit, “the decision and finality was his monopoly”.

Hameed made conciliatory overtures to Prabakaran to visit Colombo, but his advisers cautioned him against such a visit. Bradman Weerakoon states that, it was this inaccessibility to Prabakaran that led the “irascible Ranjan Wijeratne to opine that Prabakaran in fact was dead – killed in a duel by his deputy Mahatahya and A C S Hameed has only met Prabakaran’s double in Jaffna”.

Furthermore, reflecting Premadasa’s thinking on the reclusive LTTE leader, Weerakoon states, “Be that as it may – and Prabakaran was to reappear several times thereafter – this elusive quality added to his charisma and image as a ruthless and implacable military leader whose battle strategies were imaginative and daring.”

Earlier, on September 26, 1989, the new women’s military unit of the LTTE had been inaugurated. This took place on the second death anniversary of Thileepan, who had fasted to death at the Nallur Kandaswamy temple in 1987. Sothia was made the first leader of the women fighters unit. The new office and training complex was given the name “Vidyal”, which translated as dawn. It was anticipated that a new dawn would break for Tamil women. But Sothia was struck down with a virulent illness and she was moved out of the jungle base to an urban medical center, but she succumbed on January 11, 1990, when she was just 26 years old.

The political unit for women, the Women’s Front of the LTTE, met in May 1990, at Windsor Theater, Jaffna, presided over by Sundari, the Front’s Assistant Secretary, and resolved as follows:
1. The dowry system, which is the bane of the Tamil society and slur on the dignity of the Tamils, should be abolished.
2. The front is to fight all forms of injustice, oppression and sex discrimination in the fields of employment opportunities, education and social integration.
3. Economic plans to rehabilitate widows, orphans and other women affected by military operations.
4. Social and political awareness to be created among Tamil women to lead a crusade against social and political injustices.
5. The prevalent misconception of the role of women in society to be changed and women given equal status with men in all spheres of human activity.
6. Colonization of Tamil areas by Sinhalese and the repatriation of one lakh of hill country Tamils to India should be stopped forthwith.

The LTTE was in control of the entire North and East. At a press conference in Jaffna on April 1, 1990, the Tiger Supremo issued a statement which reflected the direction of the LTTE.

“Today our liberation struggle is facing a new historical turning point. We have successfully foiled the Indian military intervention. Now, the Indian occupation forces have completely withdrawn from our homeland. The termination of the Indian invasion is a grand victory to our struggle. The Indian forces were sent here specifically to crush our liberation struggle and to annihilate our organization which embodied the spirit of the struggle. It is for this specific reason, India unleashed a full fledged war against us. This war is a monumental event in the history of the world. For more than two years we fought a ruthless war shedding our blood against a formidable military force, a mighty power in Asia. The supreme sacrifice made by our fighters and by our people in this armed conflict has become a historical epic of heroism and courage. Our victory in this war has set an excellent example that the legitimate struggle of an oppressed people and their yearning for freedom could not be crushed by military force, however formidable it may be.

“Our people have also learnt the bitter lesson as a consequence of the Indian military intervention and the colossal damage it brought about. We have learned that we have to be self-dependent and fight our own struggle to win our rights, rather than depending on foreign powers. I am sure that all the Tamil groups, who supported Indian intervention would have realized this political truth. We are not a hostile force to the Indian Government or to the Indian people. We opposed the misguided policies of the former Indian administration and resisted the military intervention. We do not want the Government of India to interfere, politically or militarily in our problems. The policy makers in Delhi should realize that legitimate struggle of our oppressed people will not in any way contravene the geo-political concerns of India nor it will undermine the internal stability of the Indian state. We fervently hope that on the basis of this understanding the new Indian administration would make sincere efforts to restore friendly ties with our Organization. We desire the Indian Government and the people of India should support and recognize the legitimate struggle of our people.

“For nearly a year, we have been involved in peace talks with the Government of Sri Lanka. I am very pleased to note that the talks have been cordial, constructive and have progressed on the basis of mutual trust and understanding. As a direct consequence of these talks there is peace and normality. The present Sri Lanka regime seems to have realized that the racist oppression and military suppression will not bring about solution to the problems of the Tamil-speaking people. I should say that the courageous and the radical approach enunciated by President Premadasa has resulted in the present climate of peace and conciliation. We sincerely desire that the present atmosphere of peace should continue and that our people should live a life of freedom, dignity and security.

“The future depends solely on the perceptions and approaches of the Sinhala political leaders and the Sinhala masses. The Sinhalese people should realize the blunders of the past and should be prepared and should be prepared to resolve our problems on the basis of human justice and righteousness. If on the other hand, justice is denied to our people and if oppression is unleashed against our people, we will not hesitate to resume the arm struggle to uphold the freedom of our people. For a long time we have been fighting an armed struggle to advance the cause of our people. But the forms of our struggle changed in accordance with the concrete conditions and historical compulsion. Such changes in the modalities of our struggle are inevitable.

“Now we have decided to build up our party structure and to embrace democratic politics as the mode of our struggle. We will expand our organization into a mass movement and prove to the world that the Liberation Tigers are the authentic representatives of the people. We are not opposed to democratic norms and practices. We have been fighting to secure the fundamental political liberties and the democratic rights of our people. Our political objective is to build a radical new society based on social democratic freedom.

“The Sri Lankan Government should eliminate all oppressive conditions pitted against our people, so that genuine democratic traditions can be best enhanced in the political mainstream offering us a substantial frame of work that would be basis for a permanent political settlement. As a consequence, a war broke out. Even though, the Government of India utilized all its military might against our movement, it miserably failed in achieving its objective of disarming us. It is a tragedy that the government of India completely disregarded the political aspirations, interest and security concerns of our people who have suffered long years of genocidal oppression, but was primarily concerned about our arms, which constituted the shield of security of our people.

“This was the Himalayan blunder made by India and she has learned a bitter historical lesson for such a misguided policy. We sincerely hope that Sri Lanka should not make such a disastrous mistake. There is peace and cessation of hostilities between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE fighters. But, the fundamental problems of our people have not been resolved. Our economy is in shambles. The towns and villages have been reduced to graveyards, as a consequence of a prolonged wars. The conditions of oppression perpetrated against our people have not been fully eradicated. The wounds of the state oppression have not been healed. Our people still live in fear and trepidation over their security in these circumstances.

“I feel sad to note that certain Sri Lankan newspapers are demanding that the LTTE should surrender arms. Instead of demanding the LTTE should surrender arms, one should objectively study and analyses as to why we took up arms and fought a protracted armed struggle for more than fifteen years. The Sinhala people should study and understand the genesis of the armed struggle of the LTTE and the concrete historical conditions that led to the growth and development of the armed resistance. We wish to say that once concrete actions are taken to remove the causes and conditions that led t the Tamil resistance, the question of arms will be settled for ever. It is a misconception to assume that the ethnic issue would be resolved once the LTTE hands over its weapons.

“It is the historical condition of oppression which created the struggle for liberation and the armed resistance became the revolutionary expression of that struggle. The question of arms cannot be resolved unless the ethnic issue is resolved amicably. I hope that the Sinhala people and the Sri Lanka Government will understand our position. Our movement will continue to struggle to secure for our people a life of freedom, peace and prosperous future. Our movement is the only light of hope of our people. I call upon the Tamil and Muslim people to rally round our movement to strengthen it in a powerful national force.”- Sunday Times, April 8, 1990.

The LTTE by now had begun to entertain suspicions on the part of Premadasa’s genuineness and honesty. According to Adele Balasingham, “During these times I enquired from Bala in private conversation as to whether it was against the committed policy of the LTTE to seek an alternative to political independence and statehood. Bala replied that there was no contradiction in the LTTE’s political strategy. He explained to me that the ultimate objective of the LTTE was the creation of an independent state based on the right of self-determination of the Tamils, when all possible alternatives for coexistence with the Sinhala people were experimented and failed.

“He said that the LTTE was deeply serious about facing the Provincial Council elections in Northeast, if Premadasa cleared the hurdles ie, dissolving the council, repealing the sixth amendment and holding fresh elections. For the LTTE, it was a radical experiment to test the feasibility of the coexistence. By seeking this alternative, the LTTE would not lose anything. If the Tigers won the elections they would transform the concepts of Tamil homeland and Tamil nationhood into concrete realities, which were their declared political ideals, Bala clarified.

“Mr Premadasa had a different agenda, a scheme of his own for tackling the LTTE. Accordingly, he delayed the dissolution of the council and postponed the prospects of a fresh election. He showed little inclination on the crucial issue of repealing the sixth amendment, arguing that securing a two-thirds majority in parliament would be an impossible task. Ultimately, the private sessions with Premadasa now served little purpose in practical politics. With great patience we listened to his lengthy sermons, on one people and one nation, where all communities could live in peace and harmony under the tripartite principles of his famous three Cs.” The Will to Freedom pages 256-257.

The national press of Sri Lanka was highlighting stories about LTTE atrocities in the North and East. The papers were full of revenge killings, extortion, heavy taxes on ordinary Tamils and the excesses of LTTE cadres. Addressing a May Day rally in Jaffna, Anton Balasingham said, “I am deeply disillusion at attempts by the opposition parties in parliament and sections of the media to distort reality by claiming there was anarchy and chaos in the northeast. What we are doing is organizing rallies, opening party branches and mobilizing the masses for a democratic election, as normalcy and stability has returned to the Northeast after a decade of violence. It is obvious that the people were happy and relieved. The Sinhalese have a 70,000 strong military for their protection. So why can’t the Tamil speaking people have a similar armed forces for their defence?

“There is true peace in the Northeast, whether it is permanent or temporary cannot be definitely predicted by anyone. Despite the restoration of peace, due to cessation of hostilities, there is no attempt to remove the suspicion between the Tamils and the Sinhalese. Those who will benefit from the permanent peace in the Northeast will be not only for the Tamils and the Government, but for the Southern political parties as well. Southern political leaders and the people must have a genuine affection for the Tamil speaking people. They must grant their rights for the self-determination and decide on a political future without deceit, crookedness or craftiness. That will prevent communal discord and the destruction of the country. Southern politicians have still not displayed a desire for peace in the Northeast, because of the talks between the Tigers and the Government. Certain forces are all out to destroy the goodwill that has been created by demanding the LTTE for the surrender of arms. They are trying to create trouble for the Government, by accusing the Government of being unpatriotic and allowing the LTTE to run the administration in the Northeast.”

Bradman Weerakoon clearly analyzed that the LTTE were seeking two basic demands – the dissolution of the North-East Provincial Council and the repeal of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. According to him, after the 1983 July holocaust, President J R Jayewardene promulgated the sixth amendment with the view to appeasing the Sinhala electorate that the unitary state would always be safeguarded. On the 1983 carnage of the Tamils, President Jayewardene chose to address thre nation on July 28, 1983 to make his first announcement of the cabinet decision to introduce the measure that was to effectively silence the voice of the Tamil people in parliament and in all other elected forums. In a brief address, Jayewardene blamed the violence exclusively on the reaction of the Sinhala people to the Tamil movement for a separate state The measure he announced was eventually to become the sixth amendment. This was later said by the International Commission of Jurists to be inconsistent with the Sri Lankan constitution itself, which guarantees the freedom of thought and conscience and freedom of speech and expression, the very fundamentals of democracy. According to the sixth amendment to the 1978 constitution:
1. This act may be cited as the sixth amendment to the constitution.
2. Article 101 of the constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (hereinafter referred to as the constitution) is hereby amended in sub-paragraph (h) of paragraph (1) of that article by the substitution for the words “by elections or otherwise; and”, of the words and figures “by election or otherwise or where a recognized political party or independent group has been proscribed under Article 157A ; and.”
3. The following article is hereby inserted after Article 157, and shall have the effect as Article 157A, of the constitution:-
17A (1) No person shall, directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka.
(2) No political party or other association or organization shall have one of its aims or objects the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka.

It also set out extreme disabilities for anyone or any group that contravened this provision. It also specified that every member of a local authority, development councils etc, (Provincial Councils had not come into existence at that time) would also have to take an oath declaring that they would not support, promote, advocate etc, the establishment of a separate state. This would clearly preclude the LTTE from contesting for elected office in the Provincial Council or Parliament. In fact, earlier, the TULF, which was the opposition party with 17 seats, resigned its seats in 1984 due to the introduction of the sixth amendment.

Bradman Weerakoon points out that the priority given by the LTTE to the repeal of the sixth amendment was also interesting because it reflected their intention, at that time, of contesting elections at the national and sub-national levels within the framework of the existing political system. Their ultimate goal of a separate state notwithstanding, the willingness to try working within the system was indicative of the degree of trust Premadasa was able to engender in his initial relationship with the LTTE.

Bradman Weerakoon, who served as President Premadasa’s adviser on international relations, who, when referring to the dissolution of the North-East Provincial Council, said that the LTTE laid great emphasis on the issue. Their position was that the EPRLF-led administration that had come in with the elections to the NEPC in 1988, which did not reflect the will of the electorate and which the EPRLF had won only because of the machinations of the IPKF, which had been in control of the North and East at the time.

The LTTE claimed that Varathrajah Perumal, the Chief Minister of the NEPC, was a puppet of the Indians. Their request to Premadasa was that the Council be dissolved and fresh elections called, at which point they would demonstrate that they, the LTTE, were the people’s choice in the North and East. The real political negotiations with regard to the future nature of the Sri Lankan state would take place thereafter, after they had proved to Premadasa that they had the majority support in the North East.

Though Premadasa undertook to work on the two propositions, Bradman Weerakoon stated that both issues posed serious legal and political problems.

Regarding the repeal of the sixth amendment, while J R Jayewardene, with his five-sixth majority in parliament, had introduced it with ease, Premadasa’s government did not even have the two-thirds majority necessary for a constitutional change. Much political work would have been necessary within parliament to secure such a majority. Furthermore, the important question was, would the Sinhala people have been agreeable to give a major bastion they had constitutionally secured against the break up of their state. Even Premadasa, who represented the core of Sinhala nationalism, was not certain that they would.

The constitutional amendment had been taken up in parliament in August 1983, and it was Premadasa, who was at that time prime minister, who had moved it as an urgent bill and delivered a lengthy speech. Premadasa said many times to the Sinhala people, “Trust me, I will never let you down.”

The dissolution of the NEPC also had its share of problems. According to the Provincial Council Act of 1987, the central government could not, without adequate cause, dissolve a Provincial Council. This was one of the safeguards given to the devolution of power to the provinces in the discussions which led to the Indian-Lankan accord, and was thus included in the law. According to law, the dissolution had to be recommended by the Chief Minister of the Provincial Council. But, by a quirk of fate, Varatharajah Perumal provided an opportunity which Premadasa could have used, but delayed doing so. That was because of Varatharajah Perumal’s hasty declaration of a Unilateral Declaration of Independence. The dissolution needed an amendment to the Provincial Council Law, which Premadasa would have adopted in parliament as his Government had the required simple majority.

Unfortunately, after delaying the adoption of an amendment to the Provincial Council law, Premadasa adopted it in the parliament on July 7 and dissolved the North East Provincial Council, but it was too late.

Adele Balasingham writes in her The Will to Freedom, “Mr Premadasa’s secret agenda began to reveal itself when Mr Hameed paid a visit to our hotel room for a private session with Bala and opened discussion on de-commissioning the LTTE. It was very hot day in mid-May. The discussion also reached high temperature, as the subject of the discussion was very sensitive. Mr Hameed said that he was articulating the concerns and anxieties of the President. ‘Mr Premadasa wants free and fair elections in which all parties and groups, including the EPRLF should be given the opportunity to participate in the elections. This is not possible as long as the LTTE possess arms and is exerting a dominant position in the Northeast. Therefore, the surrender of arms by the LTTE is a necessary factor to hold fresh elections. This is the view of the President and also some Ministers, particularly Ranjan Wijeratne’, Mr Hameed said softly and firmly. Bala enquired as to why the President did not raise the issue of arms when he met the LTTE delegates during his private sessions. Bala also complained since the departure of the IPKF Mr Premadasa was holding private sessions with other Tamil groups hostile to the LTTE. He explained to Mr Hameed that the possession of arms should be viewed as a crucial element of a security arrangements for the Tamil people in the Northeast.

“The LTTE would be responsible for this security system if permanent peace was established through a permanent political solution. To maintain this security system and law and order, the LTTE should have trained security personnel possessing arms. The LTTE had the manpower, material and experience to provide an effective security system for the Tamil people, Bala told the perplexed chief negotiator, ‘It is premature to raise the issue of de-commissioning of the LTTE when your President is not prepared to remove the obstacles for fresh elections, ie, dissolving the council and repealing the sixth amendment. Furthermore, the Provincial Council itself is not a sound basis for a permanent solution. The LTTE decided to face the Provincial Council elections as an interim arrangements, not as a permanent solution. We wanted peace and harmonious co-existence with the Sinhala people. We wanted to create democratic institutions and participate in democratic political practices. We will cooperate with the Government to hold free and fair elections providing the opportunity for all groups and parties to participate in the elections. Once we become the elected representatives of the people, we can negotiate for a permanent solution that will involve the crucial issues of a security arrangements for the Tamil people’, Bala explained.

“Mr Hameed suggested the formation of a provincial police system as an element of the provincial administrative structure transforming the guerrillas into police officers. ‘Even if that were possible, the LTTE would need more men and more arms to raise a police force of 10,000 men for the North-East,’ Bala said. In that case, Bala told Mr Hameed sarcastically, the president had to provide even more arms to the LTTE police force. Thus, the discussion that started out on the issue of disarming the LTTE ended with the notion of re-arming the Tigers. Mr Hameed looked dejected when he left our hotel room.” – pages 257-258.

Meanwhile, the EPRLF delegation led by Suresh Premachandra, a Member of Parliament, had a few rounds of negotiation with Ranjan Wijeratne, the Minister of State for Defence. Bradman Weerakoon, the International Affairs adviser to the President, assisted Ranjan Wijeratne in the negations. Other members of the EPRLF delegation included P Kirupakaran, the Minister of Finance in the EPRLF-dominated NEP government and V Yogasangari, the Jaffna district EPRLF MP.

On May 15, 1990, the Government agreed to place the 19 demands put forward by the EPRLF central committee in February before the All Party Conference. These were the same proposals that were also presented to M Karunanidhi, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, and also mentioned by Varathrajah Perumal when he declared unilateral independence.

The LTTE expressed displeasure as the Government had initiated dialogue with the EPRLF. The LTTE believed that they were the sole representatives of the Tamils. It was said that the Government’s initiative to have dialogue with the EPRLF was also one of the reasons attributed to the souring of the Government-LTTE relationship. In the meantime, the LTTE leadership branded the EPRLF as “traitors” and ordered their assassination.

On May 22, the LTTE demanded that the Government expedite the dissolution of the North-East Provincial Council and hold fresh elections. Also, the LTTE demanded that the Government repeal the sixth amendment.

As the LTTE’s overtures became more virulent, on May 23, A C S Hameed arrived in Jaffna and met Ajit Mahattaya, Anton Balasingham, Yogaratnam Yogi, Bhanu and Jeya of the women’s wing. The talks lasted for over five hours and they were said to have focused on bringing greater understanding between the LTTE and the law enforcement authorities, rehabilitation programs and also strengthening the administrative machinery of the North-Eastern Province.

The LTTE delegation expressed its displeasure at the Government for taking steps to talk with the EPRLF. The LTTE delegates explained to Hameed that, the EPRLF did not represent the aspirations of the Tamils. The Chief Negotiator of the Government, A C S Hameed, explained, “The Government of Premadasa is committed to resolving all issues through consultation, compromise and consensus, and for this purpose, consultation with all groups is essential.” He added, “The Government talking to the EPRLF is in no way diminished or devalued the importance of the negotiations that the Government was having with the LTTE.” However, it seemed that the LTTE was not convinced with the explanation and continued to express displeasure about the Government-EPRLF talks.

On May 24, Ranjan Wijeratne, Minister of State for Defense, told that fresh elections to the North-East Provincial Council would not be held unless the LTTE laid down its arms. At a post-Cabinet press briefing, Ranjan Wijeratne emphasized, “We are not prepared to hold elections at gun point. Free and fair elections could not be held unless they lay down their arms. If the LTTE claims that they are the sole representatives of the Tamil speaking people, then they should prove by contesting elections, which will be held after the surrender of arms.”

He added, “There will be no further talks with the EPRLF with the Government. Instead, the EPRLF will participate in the All Party Conference and put forward their 19 point proposal.” The LTTE had kept away from the previous two rounds of the All Party Conference.

Meanwhile, Nalin Senivaratne, the Governor of the North-East Provincial Council, submitted a report to the President on the dissolution of the Provincial Council, which the LTTE was demanding. The LTTE felt that it had been led into a “peace trap blind alley” by the Government. When the government put out feelers about the annulment of the sixth amendment, it became very clear that the opposition parties, including the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, were opposed to the annulment of the amendment.

Again, A C S Hameed flew to Jaffna on May 28, 1990 to meet the LTTE leaders. This time Hameed, on behalf of the Government, took up with the LTTE, issues ranging from collecting taxes, abducting Indian fishermen in the high seas and extorting ransom for their release, killing elephants for ivory, logging timber and issuing permits for the transport of such timber. The Government also told the LTTE not to arrest Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan territorial waters. The Sri Lankan Government directed the navy either to capture or destroy any unauthorized vessels which entered or attempted to leave Sri Lankan territorial waters. This directive was given to preempt gun running by militant groups and to prevent clashes between Indian fishermen and the LTTE.

On June 1, the LTTE delegation met President Premadasa at his Sucharitha residence. It consisted of Mahattaya, Anton Balasingham, Adele Balasingham, Yogaratnam Yogi and Jeya, the leader of the women’s wing. Premadasa assured that “early action would be taken to fill the vacuum in the Northeast Provincial Council, enabling the public in the province to exercise their franchise and choose their representatives in a fair election.” The LTTE delegation urged the President to take steps to dissolve the Provincial Council immediately and hold fresh elections so that the political machinery in the Northeast could be set in motion. They also pointed out to the President that the sixth amendment had so far helped to divide the country on ethnic lines, therefore they advocated that it had to be repealed forthwith to end any further divisions in the country. A C S Hameed was with the President when the LTTE delegation met him.

On June 2, Anton Balasingham and Yogaratnam Yogi met a Government delegation comprising A C S Hameed, General Cyril Ranatunge – Secretary for Defense, Walter Fernando – State Secretary for Defence, General Hamilton Wanasinghe – the Army Commander, Vice Marshal W S Gunawardene – Commodore, D S A Silva – Navy Commander, Earnest Perera – IGP at the Ministry of Higher Education. At this meeting it was reported that the LTTE delegation assured the Government that its cadres would not interfere in the working of the state law and order machinery in the North and East. It was also decided to hold meetings between the law enforcement authorities and the LTTE cadres, at district level, to sort out specific problems.

The ground situation continued to deteriorate. On June 4, the Government and a LTTE delegation visited Batticaloa. Hameed told Anton Balasingham and the other LTTE delegates and the LTTE leaders in Batticaloa that, “It is the bounden duty of the Government to protect all the people and nobody could be allowed to interfere with the law and order machinery.” Hameed further emphasized “only an unhindered and unobstructed law and order system could ensure the full protection and security of the people.”

Then, on June 7, the LTTE killed a Sri Lankan soldier and injured 10 others in Thandikulam, one mile north of Vavuniya. The incident took place when an army convoy failed to stop at a barrier manned by the LTTE. In the clash that ensued six LTTE cadres were wounded.

Bradman Weerakoon, who was Premadasa’s adviser on international relations, wrote about the available options for Premadasa to deal with the Tigers after the withdrawal of the IPKF, “His final option could have been straight out of Machiavelli or more likely to his idiom, Kautilya. That was, that after the IPKF was out of the way and out of the country, he would turn the refreshed and renewed Sri Lankan forces on the weary LTTE, rout them completely, eliminate Prabakaran and reestablish ‘law and order, good governance, peace and prosperity over the North and East and the whole of Sri Lanka.

“I am inclined to think that in his final grand design this last option would have been very appealing. It was certainly vigorously articulated by his Deputy Minister of Defense Mr Ranjan Wijeratne, soon after the war restarted in June 1990. ‘No halfway house with me,’ he said. Now I am going all out for the LTTE. We will annihilate them.” Negotiating Peace in Sri Lanka: Efforts, Failures and Lessons Edited by Dr Kumar Rupesinghe (former brother-in-law of Chandrika Kumaratunge, President Sri Lanka, and the Secretary-General of International Alert) – page 155.

It was generally clear that the president was on a confrontation course. As Bradman Weerakoon had pointed out, Premadasa chose the military option to eliminate the LTTE. Without warning, it seems that he had authorized the Sri Lankan armed forces to move freely and assert their authority in the country. After May 1990, fresh contingents of troops and additional police were moved to the districts in the East to strengthen and fortify military bases and police stations. As the Sri Lankan troops began to intensify patrolling, tension mounted between the Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE.

Premadasa favoured a solution within the unitary state. As he was a strong nationalist he was of course opposed to any alternative models to the unitary polity. Having crushed the JVP rebellion and secured the withdrawal of the IPKF, Premadasa faced a new dilemma. It was how to deal with the LTTE. Already, he had tactfully utilized them and put them under the peace trap. Premadasa knew that it could not go on forever. A final decision on how to deal with the LTTE had to be taken. It was still possible to embrace the LTTE peacefully in the democratic political mainstream, but for which he would have to repeal the sixth amendment. He, as a Sinhala supremacist, was not keen on getting rid of the hold the Sinhala nationalists had on the Tamil separatists. Therefore he had to look for another alternative, and that was confrontation and the military suppression of the LTTE. Premadasa’s hard-line ministers and the military establishment favored the confrontation option and he yielded to their pressure.

An interesting episode that foreboded the forthcoming period is worth recording. Major General Sarath Munasinghe, in his A Soldier’s Version,wrote of the intimidating event that was to herald the period of war and bloodshed within a few days, as follows, “Major General Stanley Silva, the General Officer Commanding troops in the north traveled from Anuradhapura to Palaly by air on May 22, 1990. Lt Col Chula Senivaratne, the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Signal Regiment accompanied the General. The purpose was to hold a conference at Palaly. Brig Jaliya Nammuni, the Brigade Commander in Jaffna, received the General.

“The conference was over by noon, and the general was in a hurry to get back to Anuradhapura. Unfortunately for the general, the air force informed that there was no aircraft available. The general was adamant and decided to proceed by road. Accordingly, the general got into a jeep driven by Brig Nammuni. Chula Senivaratne was in the second vehicle driven by another officer. The vehicles were stopped by the LTTE at Vasavilan Junction, just outside Palaly army base. Kannan of the LTTE was quick to inform that permission was not granted for the military vehicles to proceed. Chula Senivaratne got off from his vehicle and explained matters to Kannan. Chula knew that Kannan could not have given permission without consulting Bhanu, the LTTE area leader. While this discussion was going on the first jeep carrying the general suddenly took off. Kannan started shouting at his cadres to open fire at the jeep. Chula Senivaratne managed to prevent a confrontation and convinced Kannan that they had to proceed towards Jaffna. The two jeeps proceeded.

“Having visited troops in Jaffna Fort, the General and party were on their way out of the Jaffna town. The LTTE had set up a roadblock near the Jaffna Kachcheri. One LTTE member shouted ‘halt’ and the jeeps stopped. Kannan was at the roadblock. Chula Senivaratne spoke to Kannan again. Kannan consulted his leader Bhanu over the radio. Quick came the answer. ‘If Brigadier Nammuni is there, give them permission to proceed under escort’.

“A van load of LTTE cadres escorted the two jeeps up to Palai, along Jaffna- Kandy road. The two jeeps were close to Mankulam, when an SLAF helicopter landed to pick up the general. Although the general was reluctant, the other officers persuaded him to board the helicopter. The two jeeps carrying Brig Nammuni and others were escorted by the LTTE to Palai to Palaly on their return journey. Many officers discussed this episode. While the few were of the opinion that the General should not have traveled by road, the majority of officers were lamenting over the fact that the general had to obtain permission from the LTTE.” – pages 98-100.

Annexe: The Tamil Nadu-LTTE connection

Courtesy: Charu Lata Joshi in Outlook, June 4 1997
Source: Assignment Colombo by J N Dixit
It could turn out to be the most shocking fallout of the Rs1.336 crore Indian Bank scam – even shutting out the Congress and TMC (Tamil Manila Congress) links temporarily. The CBI, probing the multi-crore bungle, is now engaged in following strong leads suggesting that a significant chunk of the finances arbitrarily released by the bank under former CMD (Chairman and Managing Director) M Gopalakrishnan, may have been used to fund the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Specific “information” currently in the process of being verified by the CBI indicates that Indian Bank’s leading overseas defaulter, Singapore-based NRI and cashew nut exporter Muthukrishna Varatha Raja (MVR), whose liability to the bank totals Rs 375 crore, diverted money received from the bank to certain front companies allegedly belonging to the LTTE.

What is significant here is that not only did Indian Bank blatantly violate set norms in sanctioning advances to MVR’s benami (front) companies – as brought out in the 10 cases that the CBI has so far registered against the MVR Group – but that it also did not monitor the manner in which these funds were mis-utilised.

For the CBI, the probe centers not so much around commercial losses incurred by the bank but in establishing criminal liability. The agency is verifying source information, backed up by intelligence records, to sharpen its focus on inquiry on the end-use of funds sanctioned by the bank to MVR. Leads under investigation by the CBI, which are available to Outlook, show that MVR extended financial support to individuals and companies belonging to the LTTE.

While MVR vehemently denies the charges, CBI insiders are confident of nailing the nexus. What has heightened suspicious is MVR’s own background. His father, N P Muthukrishna Naidu- a former Thanjavur district Congress President – controlled an extensive textile trade in Sri Lanka. And as leads currently being probed by the CBI show, the links continue.

The CBI has in its records information which shows that MVR owns five benami companies in Rotterdam: Hamilton Ventures Pvt Ltd; Nutworld Trading; Globelnut; Richardson & Rogers Ltd.; and Dutch Flag Ltd. All transactions from these companies are conducted through Bank Mss Pierson, Rotterdam, and the CBI has received information that certain remittances from Dutch Flag. A shipping company registered in Rotterdam, have been made to an outfit called Marine Shipping & Trading Ltd. The investigating agency is trying to verify this information.

It is in this context that the information received from various intelligence agencies puts the CBI on the Tigers’ trail. For, Marine Shipping & Trading Ltd is believed to be a front company of the LTTE. Records with the intelligence agencies show that Kumaran Padamanabha (KP) is a director of this company. KP, a Switzerland- based relative of LTTE Supremo V Prabhakaran, who is the chief arms procurer for the Tigers, was also suspected of having supplied explosives to Chennai from Singapore for Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. The company, incidentally, is registered at Le Pollet St, Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands, and intelligence information shows that this company financed the purchase of various ships used for smuggling activities by the LTTE.

Mystifyingly, Indian Bank continued to extend credit facilities to Mountemount – which is yet another of MVR’s benami companies in Singapore. In fact, in an affidavit filed before the Madras High Court recently, the Enforcement Directorate pointed out, “The quality claims made by MVR’s company Mountemount were raised only during January and February 1996 for shipments made between 1991 and 1995. This was to enable fraudulent declarations so that the amounts due to be paid in settlement of quality claims were adjusted against export proceeds receivable by the Indian companies.”

Further, information with the CBI shows that an overdraft of $28 million was released by Indian Bank to Mountemount for business payments to be made to the five benami companies. Curiously, the bank did not conduct any scrutiny on these companies in Rotterdam to establish whether the transactions were genuine or not.

What appears as a complex maze of transactions could have actually worked quite simply: MVR drew heavy loans from Indian Bank’s Singapore branch, allegedly for payments to his own benami companies in Rotterdam. The bank released the funds without any verification. Money from one of these companies then found its way to an LTTE front company. But given the manner in which Indian Bank conducted its business under Gopalakrishnan, such violations are hardly surprising. A recent report submitted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to the Banks Securities and Fraud Cell of the CBI shows how the Chairman made arbitrary donations to the tune of RS. 10 crore during 1991-96 alone.

Another aspect of the CBI’s inquiry relates to MVR’s association and allege transaction with P V Rajendran, a TMC MP who won the last Lok Sabha election from Mayalladuthurai. As per the agency’s FIR, MVR’s Chennai-based company, MVR Exports, illegally received credit and overdraft facilities to the tune of Rs 71 crore from Indian Bank’s Chennai and Singapore branches. The CBI is verifying source information that MVR exports actually diverted funds to certain front companies maintained by Rajendran. While MVR says he knows Rajendran since both belong to Thanjavur, he denies any financial dealings with him. For his part, Rajendran told Outlook, “I received Rs 15 lakh for an aquaculture business from Indian Bank in 1993, which I am repaying. But I have had no financial dealing with MVR.”

Incidentally, intelligence dossiers provide reasons to suspect Rajendran of having links with the LTTE. The Special Investigation Team (IST) handling the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case had listed him among suspects. Reasons: his reported closeness with Shanmugam, a resident of Vedaranyam, Tamil Nadu, and kingpin of LTTE’s smuggling operations who committed suicide soon after he was arrested by the IST in November, 1991. Intelligence reports also give precise details of Rajendran’s associates in Thanjavur district who are suspected to be LTTE members. Prominent among these are Sabapathy alias Chokkan, a suspect in the Rajiv case who thrived on the smuggling routes from Vedaranyam to the northern Sri Lanka coast. Rajendran, however denies the allegation but does admit: “I did support LTTE when Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were doing so. Not anymore.”

The CBI is trying to obtain details of MVR’s precise financial transactions with other companies in India and abroad. But insiders in the agency suspect that such transactions were largely conducted through hawala channels and would not be represented in company records. Besides, the trial got murky well before the Rajiv assassination. Source information with the CBI indicates that in 1990 Rajendran received Rs 5 crore as a loan from Indian Bank to start a nuts and bolts factory. The charge, currently being probed, is that no company was started and that Rajendran could have used the funds o purchase ships for the LTTE. Rajendran, as said earlier, denies any linkages now.

The Bank Securities and Fraud Cells is verifying information that a Mumbai-based hawala operator has been diverting money belonging to MVR (received largely from Indian Bank), Adnan Khashoggi and Chadraswami to various accounts abroad. It has, in fact, verified the charge that Chadraswami was closely linked to the Singapore businessman and stayed at his penthouse at Peace Mansion, off Serangoon, on at least two occasions, during his visits to Singapore in 1992 and 1994.

Proximity to the powers that be is something MVR does not deny. It is perhaps to these factors that he owes his rise. In 1962, as a graduate from Pachaiyappa College in Chennai, he wound up his father’s textile business to start a cashew export venture. The plans were grandiose: import raw cashews, process them in India and export the finished product to the same companies in South Africa, Europe and US. But it was only in 1985 that he got his first big break when Indian Bank sanctioned a Rs 123 crore loan to his company, MVR Export. This despite the fact that he had earlier defaulted on the repayment of two car loans from the same bank.

The get-rich-quick streak continued. For MVR, public sector banks became a convenient dipping pool. In ’86 he touched the Bank of Baroda (Mumbai Main Branch), the Indian Overseas Bank (Janpath branch, New Delhi) and Canara Bank (Ambuchetty branch, Chennai) for a loan of Rs 2.86 crore, by pledging the same stock. The loans (now declared non-performing assets by the RBI) were granted without even a basic verification of the stock.

Funds continued to be raised by the MVR Group through its benami companies in blatant violation of banking rule and despite the fact that MVR had continued to default on repayment, not just from Indian Bank but from banks across the world. Strangely, these loans were advanced on specific recommendations made by Indian Bank’s Singapore branch.

Consider this. On September 29, 1995, Indian Bank wrote to Mountemount asking for its audited accounts, securities and clearance of overdue bills. Exactly two months later, on November 29, Vijayaraghavan Parikasami, a director at Mountemount, wrote to Indian Bank’s Singapore branch, asking them to furnish a letter of recommendation for the Project Funding Group, Dubai, which the MVR Group had approached for a loan. The bank obliged. The very same day, the bank’s assistant credit manager, M. Nachiappan, wrote back forwarding a flattering letter of recommendation. In an intriguing sequence of events, the Dubai bank did not extend the facility, but Indian Bank’s Chennai branch extended a loan of Rs 5 crore to Anderson Industries International Ltd, a benami company MVR set up in Chennai, on the basis of the same letter.

Insiders in banking circles link MVR’s closeness to TMC leader G K Moopanar and Gopalakrishnan as the reasons behind his long financial reach. Recent investigations by the CBI too have brought the complicity of at least two cabinet ministers – both belonging to the TMC – to light. But what cannot be overlooked is the fact that Indian Bank’s largesse cut across party lines. A report examining the reasons behind the eight extensions granted to Goplalkrishnan during 1993-95 is being prepared by a Committee of Secretaries under the chairmanship of the cabinet secretary. The initial findings show that neither the then finance minister, Manmohan Singh, nor the then cabinet secretary, Zafar Saifullah, was in favor of the extensions. Yet he got them. the orders on all occasions had come from the PMO. Which begs the question: will MVR’S friends in high places be able to bail him out?

Next: Eelam war

###

Further reading:

  1. Dharmaratnam Sivaram
  2. Tamil Women Freedom Fighters
  3. Sri Lanka: The Untold Story, Chapter 16

Posted September 6th, 2019.

Filed under History.

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About editor 2952 Articles
Writer and Journalist living in Canada since 1987. Tamil activist.

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