I: “KP moves from Colombo to Thamilcelvan’s House in Kili” …. DBS Jeyaraj in transcurrents
Selvarasah Pathmanathan alias “KP” who is under the protective custody of the Sri Lankan Government has been relocated from Colombo to Kilinochchi last week by the authorities. The former chief of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who was detained in suburban Colombo earlier will now reside within Kilinochchi urban limits. KP will be housed in premises that would also be the head office of the organization founded by him namely the North Eastern Rehabilitation and Development Organization (NERDO).
The building in which KP and the NERDO Office are located is a two-storeyed house in which former LTTE political wing head Suppiah Paramu Thamilchelvan once lived in. It is located in the Thiruvaiaaru area of Kilinochchi south and is about a kilometre away from the Iranaimadhu junction. The house situated along the Thondaman by- lane in a compound of around four acres is about 100-150 metres to the interior of the Jaffna-Kandy road known as the A -9 highway. It is indeed ironic and somewhat symbolic of changed circumstances that KP the one time chief procurer of arms of the LTTE has now moved to the housewhere the former LTTE political commissar SP (Suppiah Paramu) Thamilchelvan once stayed. The building was used by Thamilchelvan as one of his residences cum office at the heyday of the LTTE. While the lower floor has several residential rooms the greater part of the upper floor had been converted into a meeting hall able to accommodate around 175 -200 persons at a time.
“The NERDO also liaises with representatives from the Global Tamil Diaspora. These representatives working on a voluntary basis have been greatly responsible for collecting and providing the bulk of funds to implement NERDO projects. These representatives are based mainly in Britain, Australia, Canada, USA, Norway, France, Switzerland, Germany and a few Middle Eastern and South East Asian countries ”
It was also within these precincts that the LTTE political division chief met his death in 2007. He was sleeping in an underground bunker located in the compound but away from the main house. At first light on Friday Nov 2nd 2007, Israeli built K-fir jet bombers and Russian supersonic MiG 27 ’s engaged in aerial bombardment over Iranaimadhu east, South Kilinochchi town and its suburbs like Anandapuram and
Thiruvaiyaaru. Suppiah Paramu Thamilchelvan the 40 year old head of the LTTE’s Political division was killed along with five other Tigers in the aerial attack. Thamilchelvan was promoted posthumously as “Brigadier” by the LTTEhierarchy.
The others killed along with Thamilchelvan in the Thiruvaiyaaru bombing were Muthukkumaru Soundarakrishnan alias Lt Col Anpumani , Dharmarajah Vijayakumar alias Major Mihuthan, Karunanidhi Vasanthakumar alias Capt. Kalaiyarasan, Panchatcharam alias Lt Aatchivel, and Muthukkumaarakkurukkal Srigayathrinatha Sarma alias Lt Maavaikumaran. All of them were from villages in the Jaffnadistrict.
Maavaikumaran was the son of a brahmin priest. Kalaiyarasan aka Nethaji, Aatchivel and Maavaikumaran were Thamilchelvan’s bodyguards.Anpumani also known as Alex and Mihuthan were from the political wing. Anpumani or Alex was a skilled photographer and known to many media persons. He was in charge of the strategic communications unit of the LTTE’s political wing. Closely associated with Thamilchelvan, Anpumani had accompanied the political commissar on trips to Europe.
Tamil Nadu film director and actor Sebastian Seemon alias Senthamizhan Seeman the head of the Naam Thamizhar Katchi or “We Tamil Party” is to marry the widow of Soundarajan alias Alex shortly. Seeman’s Naam Thamizhar Katchi has been in the forefront of planned attacks on Sri Lankan tourists and pilgrims to Tamil Nadu. Seeman himself known for his rabid anti-Sinhala views was deported from Canada and denied entry to the USA.
THAMILCHELVAN: Thamilchelvan hailing from Madduvil in the Jaffna peninsula was born in 1967. He joined the LTTE in 1983 and was in the fourth batch of Tiger recruits trained at the Thirumalai camp near Dindigul in Tamil Nadu. He served as a bodyguard to LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran and also his wife Madhivathany in Tamil Nadu. He used the nom de guerre Dinesh then Subsequently he served in several capacities in the LTTE such as Thenmaratchy sector head, Jaffna district commander. After being injured in the Poonagary battle of November 11th 1993, Thamilchelvan sustained a permanent limp and had to move about with the aid of a walking stick. Thereafter he was appointed the head of the LTTE‘s political division and participated in many discussions within Sri Lanka.
Thamilchelvan and others had been killed in their sleep. In those days senior LTTE leaders did not sleep at the same place each night due to security reasons. Thamilchelvan used to rotate among three or four different places. On that night the political chief had arrived in Kilinochchi from Poonagary and had slept at the bunker in the Thiruvaiyaaru premises. The bomber jets had dropped “bunkerbuster” type of powerful bombs and scored “bull’s eye”.
The entire structure had crumbled due to the bombing. The target was hit a few minutes after 6 am. It took LTTE cadres several hours to excavate the bodies from under the debris. Thamilchelvan’s body was the last to be dug out. The main house however had suffered some minor damage but remained virtually intact.
It is in this house that the head office of NERDO would start functioning. Currently the NERDO office is situated elsewhere in Kilinochchi. Selvarasah Pathmanathan alias KP too will reside at the same venue. Since KP is under protective custody the special contingent of security personnel assigned to be with him are to be housed in barracks set up in an adjacent house. The security personnel will be at the house lodging KP and NERDO on a rotational basis.
KP will now use these premises to conduct the day to day work of the NERDO. The NERDO is involved in a number of activities such as managing orphanages for boys and girls, helping needy students, improving educational facilities, providing computer training, English classes, technical and handicraft skills, cookery and sewing classes, running a model farm, helping widows with young children, uplifting underprivileged families, helping differently abled people, old and destitute people etc.
NERDO: The NERDO also liaises with representatives from the Global Tamil Diaspora. These representatives working on a voluntary basis have been greatly responsible for collecting and providing the bulk of funds to implement NERDO projects. These representatives are based mainly in Britain, Australia, Canada, USA, Norway, France, Switzerland, Germany and a few Middle Eastern and South East Asian countries.
Pathmananathan alias KP in his capacity as Secretary is the key figure in NERDO. He used to coordinate affairs from Colombo but will now do so from Kilinochchi. Since most work undertaken by NERDO is in the Kilinochchi, Mullaitheevu and Jaffna districts being located in the central spot of Kilinochchi town will help facilitate its work. KP will also have greater autonomy of action in Kilinochchi. In Colombo he used to have “approved” meetings with people at Ministry of Defence premises but now he would have greater freedom in meeting people at the NERDO office premises directly. He would however be provided with security personnel and be under benign supervision of the Defence ministry to which he may have to furnish regular progress reports.
The shift from Colombo to Kilinochchi is another significant milepost in the life journey of Selvarasa Pathmanathan alias KP. The 57-year-old onetime undergrad of the Jaffna University acquired his nickname “KP” at the Thirunelvely campus due to him being called “Kannadi “ (on account of his spectacles)Pathmanathan to differentiate him from several others by the name of Pathmanathan. KP was an abbreviation of Kannadi Pathmanathan though some sections of the media refer to him inaccurately as Kumaran Pathmanathan. Subsequently the nom de plume “KP” became the nom de guerre too. Selvarasa Pathanathan was elevated to the position of being in charge of overseas acquisition of the LTTE. This section of the LTTE under KP was known euphemistically as “KP dept.” The man who was at one time the chief arms procurer of the LTTE went on to become the international chief of the Tigers. After the demise of Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, KP succeeded him on grounds of seniority.
In a re-structured LTTE, Pathmanathan alias KP was appointed the “Thalaimai Seyalar “or chief secretary. This post was akin to being leader.This elevation did not come easily as an overseas cabal led by Perinbanayagam Sivaparan alias Nediyavan opposed it bitterly.
However KP’s moment of glory as head of the LTTE was very brief. In a sudden operation amounting to an “extraordinary rendition” Pathmanathan was apprehended in Malaysia and transported to Sri Lanka in August 2009. He has been kept in protective custody by the Rajapaksa regime since then.
In articles written for the “Daily Mirror” in the past, this column has emphasized that it was the relationship which KP forged with Defence and Urban development secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa that helped the ex-LTTE chief to withstand ,survive and even soften the hardship of detention. It has also been his source of strength. KP reached the lowest point of his eventful life when he was seized in Malaysia and transported to Sri Lanka. But he has obtained a fresh lease of life from the jaws of virtual obliteration.
“The creation of the new NGO known as the NERDO two years ago was aimed at achieving those goals effectively and expeditiously. KP hoped to enlist the services and assistance of Tamil expatriate and other charitable organizations for this purpose He was optimistic then that a substantial amount of funds could be channeled through LTTE or pro-LTTE sources ”
GOTABAYA:In earlier articles, this column has outlined the backdrop against which KP started cooperating with Colombo. KP’s reprieve was due to his success in convincing the Defence secretary and Intelligence Chief Gen. Kapila Hendavitarane that he should be treated as a worthwhile asset. He has been able to persuade Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Director of Intelligence that his co-operation would be of great value. Thereafter he has earned their regard and won their trust by his conduct.
For KP after being captured and brought to Colombo it was a case of adapting pragmatically for sheer survival. Fate had delivered a nasty blow. The unimaginable had happened. Sri Lanka with the aid of Malaysian authorities had captured him in a clandestine operation costing millions of Singaporean Dollars. He was ensnared in the Lion’s den. There was no way out.
There were only two options. One was to follow the path of least resistance. In short co-operate. The other was to confront defiantly. The former course would provide a chance to survive. The latter meant risk of death or prolonged incarceration after perhaps intensive interrogation amounting to torture.
More importantly the LTTE had been annihilated. There was no armed struggle or war of liberation on. KP’s leader Prabhakaran himself was no more. There was perhaps some reason to resist and risk suffering if the leader was alive and the fight was continuing. But that was not so. In such a situation was there any purpose in resisting or swimming against a rising tide? KP opted to go with the flow.
Besides KP himself was of the opinion that the armed struggle was over. He had wanted the LTTE under his leadership to change course and adopt new non – violent, democratic strategies and methods. This divergent approach had aggravated differences between KP and the Castro faction led by Nediyavan. Now it was all over and realistically it was Hobson’s choice for KP.
By cooperating with the Government KP would not only save himself but also could be empowered gradually. If he could gain some clout with the government then that “power” could in turn be used to help the Tamil people. The armed struggle was over and the LTTE was demolished. The only option was to associate with the Govt and help the Tamil people. Nothing constructive could be accomplished without the Government’s approval or assistance.
In a bizarre twist of fate the LTTE’s short lived new chief began cooperating with the Colombo Government in a remarkable transformation. The man who purchased and shipped arms and ammunition regularly to keep the fires of war burning was now engaged in cooling the embers of that bitter conflict. (Selvarasa Pathanathan was elevated to the position of being in charge of overseas acquisition of the LTTE. This section of the LTTE under KP was known euphemistically as “KP dept.” The man who was at one time the chief arms procurer of the LTTE went on to become the international chief of the Tigers. )
CONSTRUCTIVE: KP is a captive of circumstances both metaphorically and literally! The KP who was “free” devoted his talents, abilities and efforts towards a destructive purpose. The “caged” KP however is engaged in a constructive capacity. In a philosophical sense KP, though shackled, was on the road to redemption and true freedom.
The LTTE has brought about irredeemable harm to the Sri Lankan Tamil people. KP too has played a role in this. Now the shattered and battered Tamil people are trying to pick up the pieces and get along with life amidst drastically altered circumstances. It was easy to wreck and destroy in the name of Tamil liberation but it does require a monumental effort to salvage and re-build in the quest for Tamil restoration.
KP to his credit seems to have suffered pangs of conscience over the tragic predicament of the Tamil people; realising that the LTTE has to bear much of the blame for this sad state of affairs. Although in custody, he initiated an exercise to alleviate the plight of the people to the best of his ability.
A crucial step in this endeavour was the setting up of a new Non – Governmental organization (NGO). The name of the NGO is North – East Rehabilitation and Development Organization (NERDO).
In starting the NERDO , KP’s sole concern was helping to restore a life of dignity to the Tamil people. He wanted the displaced Tamils to be rehabilitated and re-settled. He wanted to boost development and bring about an economic renaissance in the North and East. He wanted to secure the speedy release and re-integration of former LTTE cadres in detention.
The creation of the new NGO known as the NERDO two years ago was aimed at achieving those goals effectively and expeditiously. KP hoped to enlist the services and assistance of Tamil expatriate and other charitable organizations for this purpose. He was optimistic then that a substantial amount of funds could be channeled through LTTE or pro-LTTE sources abroad. The idea was to provide an opportunity for diasporic tiger elements to play a constructive role in the upliftment of the Tamil people in the North-East.
II: “A Tale of Two Tamils: High value assets in SL, criminals in India” … Pramod Kumar, 19 October 2012
This week saw the curious case of two influential Sri Lankan Tamils, wanted in India on sensational criminal cases but close to the island’s government, making news again. One of them is “KP” or Kumaran Pathmanathan who once allegedly controlled LTTE’s transnational finance and arms procurement network, and the other is an anti-LTTE Tamil leader and minister Douglas Devananda who had survived many attempts on his life.
KP, the only survivor of the LTTE top-brass, captured under mysterious circumstances immediately after the war, was released from detention by the Sri Lankan government without pressing any criminal charges on Wednesday (17 October), while Douglas Devananda was asked by a sessions court in Chennai on Thursday to appear before itself for an 26-year old murder case.
Of the two, KP is high-profile wanted man in India with an Interpol alert for “terrorism and crimes involving the use of weapons/explosives”. Devananda is a “proclaimed offender” for the last 18 years for a 1986 murder in Chennai. At some stage, if Indian law wants to catch up with them, the country will have to ask for their extradition.
Of the two, KP is the big fish. At the height of the LTTE rein, he was reportedly the kingpin of its international operations including procurement and shipping of its military hardware, managing flow of funds, setting up front companies and manufacturing vessels that the organisation used for its attacks and bombings. He was also involved in the last minute attempts to save the top leadership of LTTE, including Veluppillai Prabhakaran, during the final phase of the war.
With several aliases, he was mostly untraceable and unseen in public while he operated from South East Asia. In 2009, after the fall of LTTE, the Sri Lankan government, through some thrilling undercover operations—the details of which are still undisclosed—nabbed him in Malaysia. Since then, he was under detention till he was freed on Wednesday.
In an exclusive video interview carried by Firstpost in May 2011 while he was still in detention, KP had said hat he had shunned his LTTE past. He said along with others he had fought for independence but failed. He also apologised to India for the mistakes of LTTE leader Prabhakaran.
In the interview, KP sought to play down the alleged war excesses by the Sri Lankan army and said the past was past and it was time to move on. He also said that he would not allow the revival of Tamil extremism and would work for peace and development among the Tamils.
Now that KP is free without any criminal charges against him and allowed to run an NGO in the north of the country, will India and the Interpol ask for him?
Although he is not an accused or a proclaimed offender in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case as some media reports have erroneously said, his leadership role in LTTE could be a matter of sensitivity to the supporters of former Indian prime minister. It will be interesting to see how it pans out in the coming days and months since he is now close to the Sri Lankan establishment.
In the case of Devananda, the sessions court in Chennai said his presence in court was necessary. The Sri Lankan minister wanted the court to quash the non-bailable arrest warrant against him and allow him to appear before the court through video-conferencing from Colombo.
He had argued against his appearance in Chennai court citing security threats. He had said that the Tamil Nadu police would not be able to ensure his safety. The government prosecutor said his presence was necessary for proper identification.
In Sri Lanka, there is considerable political criticism of the way KP has been set free with both Tamil groups and the UNP alleging that he has cut a deal with the government. Is that deal binding on India as well?
It will be interesting to see how New Delhi handles these two high-value strategic assets of Sri Lanka who face criminal charges in India. Most probably, it will close its eyes for the same geo-political compulsions that always limit its options on the island nation.