Prabhakaran, Veerappan and India

By K. Godage

Sadly though the chickens seems to be coming home to roost for the Indians. The monster they helped create has now started to spread its cancerous tentacles deep into Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and is perhaps reaching out into the North-East.

The LTTE is the world’s most formidable terror outfit and not only are its tactics being copied, as we saw in Yemen recently when Yemenese terrorists attacked an American warship, but its knowledge and expertise has become available to other militant groups around the world.

Veerapapan kidnapping the Karnataka film idol Rajkumar, his conditions for the release of Rajkumar and the emergence of well known LTTE activist, advocate of Tamil Nadu’s separation from India and head of the Tamil nationalist movement, Nedumaran and his LTTE supporters,(some of whom such as Kolathur Mani and Shanmugasunderam are reported to have been close associates of the killers of Rajiv Gandhi) as the only ones who had leverage over Veerappan, has helped to bring India face to face with the stark threat to its unity and stability. Delhi has in the years following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi played a strange game with the LTTE. The tracking down of the killers was done with the known efficiency of the Indian establishment. After that the Indian establishment, in the words of a respected Indian journalist," pussy-footed" with the affair. First there was the court order in the assassination case which seemed to have been ignored. Incidentally the case dragged on for years, one would have expected a case of such importance to have been disposed off on a priority basis. Next came the Jain Commission, which was instituted to inquire into a possible conspiracy and the political aspects of the assassination.

The Jain Commission report took five years and six months of painstaking work and quite naturally goes into five thousand two hundred and eighty pages in eight volumes, with a further nine volumes of annexes.

What it says in essence, after this monumental effort, is what we have known all the time. First: that the Godfather of the LTTE was Karunanidhi. Secondly as for his loyalties, he is first a Tamil and then an Indian. Third: he is principally responsible for nurturing the LTTE and transforming it into the terror organization it is today. Fourthly, he provided them with, (according to the report) "supplies including arms, ammunition, explosives, fuel and other essential items for its war with the IPKF from Tamil Nadu. That too with the support of the Tamil Nadu Government and the connivance of the law enforcement authorities".

Fifth, by these actions he undermined India’s security. Sixth: by supporting the LTTE during its war with the Indian Peace Keeping Forces he was vicariously responsible for the deaths of over one thousand five hundred Indian soldiers and the maiming of at least another two thousand men. Seventh: he undermined a major Foreign Policy objective of the Indian Government Eight: permitted the LTTE to operate with impunity and thereby facilitated the assassination of Padmanabha and 17 others in June 1990 as a part of the LTTE’s policy of eliminating its opponents. Nine had interfered with the investigation and actively protected the assassins. Ten it was the same hit squad that had been detailed by Prabhakaran to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi!

What a charge sheet. It has treason written all over it. Karunanuidhi in the phase before July 1987 fathered an insurgency in a neighbouring country with the active Participation of the central government next he supports the terrorist group he helped create, to fight the armed forces of his own native land!

Despite the Jain Commission Report and the Court order in the assassination case, never was the LTTE’s network investigated and uprooted. That was a most difficult thing to do despite the fact that Prabhakaran was himself convicted of the murder of a former Prime Minister of India. Why? because Prhabhakaran is considered a warrior hero of the Tamil people - the man who has put the Tamil people on the world map. Incidentally Prabhakaran’s birthday was celebrated in many parts of Tamil Nadu-even in some remote villages. Neither Karunanidhi nor Jayalalitha dared to do anything to uproot the LTTE network in Tamil Nadu. Karunanidhi had championed the Tamil cause and supported the LTTE with a huge grant of millions of US Dollars. As for Jayalalitha-she never went anywhere without her bulletproof jacket that was how scared she was and is of the LTTE.

Veerappan, to those who have not followed the affair of the kidnap which lasted over three and a half months, is a man who stands accused of over one hundred and twenty murders, he is said to have killed hundreds of elephants for their tusks but surprisingly the law enforcement authorities of two states-Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have not been able to apprehend the man. After Veerappan, who has previously kidnapped over thirty officials and others for ransom, kidnapped the famous Rajkumar he raised the stakes and in the process showed his hand. Though it would seem that in kidnapping Rajkumar, Veerappan caught a Tarter, he may have done so knowing fully well the repercussions, to draw attention to the cause of the Tamils in Tamil Nadu, the plight of Tamils in Karnataka and the LTTE cause, for he is said to be a Tamil nationalist, who espouses the cause of a separate Tamil state in South India. His demanded the release of seven members of the Tamil Liberation Army and the Tamil National Retrieval Force presently in custody and also over 50 LTTE activists detained under the Terrorism Prevention Act. Had it not been for the Supreme Court stepping in they may have been released. Nedumaran is reported to have given certain promises re this matter to Veerappan, it would be of interest to know what they were. Meanwhile it must be noted that Nedumaran, the TNA and the TNRF all demand the right to self-determination for the people of Tamil Nadu.

The Indian concern today would be the nexus that exists between the LTTE and militant groups in Tamil Nadu, Assam, in the North East states and the Naxalites of Andhra Pradesh (one cannot rule out a ‘relationship’ between the ISI, Pakistan’s Intelligence Service and the LTTE. The Muslims of India are restless). But for the Naxalites, the other three groups describe themselves as ‘Nationalists’. The Tamil Nadu militants share an ideological position —-to secede from India and Sri Lanka respectively and establish separate Tamil states, to eventually merge no doubt.

The LTTE has indeed inspired the growth of separatism in Tamil Nadu. It is in a sense a revival of Dravidian nationalism after the "we Tamil’ movement of the fifties ( lead by Annadorai and ‘script writer’ Karunanidhi, whose films ushered in a social revolution in Tamil Nadu) which ended after the India- China War of 1961. In recent years a number of small parties have mushroomed all over Tamil Nadu calling for separation from India. They had, till recently, not been taken seriously by Delhi. But after the nexus between the LTTE and these groups was established, with the Veerappan - Rajkumar affair, the Indian establishment in Delhi was compelled to take note as was evidenced by Advani’s statement. What is of obvious concern to Delhi is that the extremist fringe groups such as the Tamil Liberation army and the Tamil Retrieval Force, (both of whom have very close connections with the LTTE), would have funded, armed and trained the LTTE. These ‘fringe groups’ are backed by certain political parties - the PMK is headed by Dr. Ramdoss, a well known LTTE supporter as is the MDMK which is headed by the man who wishes our President assassinated and has openly said so - the barbarian Vaiko. (my information is that the Indian establishment is disillusioned with Vaiko and wishes to end its association him, as he cannot be trusted or called to order)). The infamous Gopalaswamy, champion of the LTTE, is also co-leader of the MDMK. To cap it all these well known LTTE activists are in the government of Atal Behari Vajpayee! The government will soon have to decide on placating its coalition partners or securing India’s integrity. This is where other important constituencies of the Indian establishment and Civil Society groups may play a decisive role, if the politicians suffer paralysis because of their desire to stay in office.

The question therefore arises as to how seriously the government in Delhi would take this new threat. It may be politically convenient for the present government to believe the constituent parties from far away Tamil Nadu, that the so called threat has been blown out of proportion, but it would be foolish to do so and under-estimate the influence and capacity of the LTTE. which dreams of a greater Tamil Nadu - a homeland for the Tamil people of the world, just as the Jews have done for their people. The Tamil people would no doubt take great pride in such an undertaking and support it from the four corners of the earth. That Greater Tamil Nadu would include the present Tamil Nadu and a third Sri Lanka.

The options for India are not many but it would be an absolute imperative for the government in Delhi to take action now or face the Balkanization of India in the not too distant future. One Cold War’ may be over but the Cold War in the region continues and India’s enemies would no doubt seize the opportunity with absolute alacrity to end half a century of Indian dominance of the region. Prabhakaran who changed the political map of this country is getting ready to change the political map of India and the region