When Prabhakaran and his partners in terrorism met their waterloo in a swamp in May, people found themselves dancing in the streets. Celebrations lasted for days on end to the point of riling some members of the international community reeling from their failure to save the LTTE leaders. But, intriguingly, euphoric ebullience was noticeable by its absence when the self-appointed new LTTE leader KP was captured and brought to Colombo last week. People were no more excited than they were when Anamalu Imtiaz breathed his last. Why? A diehard Diasporic Tiger, in an e-mail floated around the world sarcastically poses the same question.
There seem to be several reasons for this kind of lukewarm reaction to KP's arrest. Protracted celebrations over Prabhakaran's death left people fatigued: They ate tons of milk rice, drank bowsers of milk and lit truckloads of firecrackers. Thus was released pressure that had built up for thirty long years.
Prabhakaran was the LTTE and the LTTE Prabhakaran. KP, a glorified racketeer, became the leader of the LTTE for want of a better alternative. How he was tracked down, arrested and brought to Colombo will enter history books as essential reading for future military strategists. What we have been witnessing for the past three years or so is history in the making. Anti-terror Sri Lankans, jubilant as they were, did not go to the extent of painting the town red over KP's capture, which came like an impressive win in the final match of an ODI series which is already clinched by Sri Lanka.
Time was when people used to be smug about even small achievements like the killing of a few terrorists as military victories were hard to come by and defeating the LTTE was considered an unattainable goal. But, today, myths about the LTTE having been blown sky high and resounding victories scored on the battlefront with Prabhakaran done to death, people have come to take the capture of lesser terrorists like KP for granted. This is certainly a worrisome proposition for the Diasporic Tigers and their sponsors because in neutralising threats to her national security, Sri Lanka is now thinking in terms of covert operations overseas! 'Extraordinary rendition' was not in the vocabulary of the Sri Lankan military. It was considered a luxury that only sophisticated outfits like the CIA, Mossad and KGB could afford. But, by bagging KP, described as one of the most elusive terrorists in the world, Sri Lanka has demonstrated that it is also equal to the task of hunting down her enemies wherever on earth they may live. The LTTE is being paid back in the same coin!
The question that needs to be asked is not why KP's arrest was not celebrated the way Prabhakaran's death had been but why there are no mammoth protests by Diasporic Tigers overseas demanding KP's release as well as why foreign governments supportive of the LTTE are keeping mum.
The LTTE has gone the same way as any other decapitated terrorist group. Earlier Tiger dissenters who were lucky to escape death at the hands of Prabhakaran left the LTTE and founded their own organisations and the LTTE was kept free from dissent. Now that Prabhakaran has died intestate, so to speak, the LTTE stands split with two or more self-appointed leaders vying with each other to grab the outfit and its wealth. KP's leadership is being resisted by his rivals who are hurling wild allegations against him. KP, in custody, is reportedly ratting on his rivals, who will go all out to paint a black picture of him as a traitor to the cause or a crook who helped himself to LTTE funds. This kind of bitter acrimony consuming KP and his bêtes noires may explain the absence of protests against KP's arrest.
That some foreign governments strove to take Prabhakaran off the hook in all but name during the final battle in May is fairly well known. When their desperate efforts to scuttle the war failed, they tried to arrange for Prabhakaran's surrender to a third party. France and Britain sent their foreign ministers here to press for a ceasefire. But, none of the countries sympathetic to Tigers is taking up the cudgels for the new LTTE leader, KP! Sri Lanka has not been even asked to be gentle with him! Where are those UN bigwigs who had direct contacts with KP and conferred de facto recognition on him as the LTTE's international spokesman? And why is it that they do not want to touch him with a barge pole now?
The LTTE's foreign backers are either wary of coming to KP's rescue because of his criminal track record or convinced that helping any of the self-proclaimed Tiger leaders is an exercise in futility as, in achieving Eelam, the LTTE rump has the same chance as a snow ball in hell. Surviving Tiger leaders’ inability to pose a serious threat to Sri Lanka's national security may also be a reason why people here did not celebrate KP's capture on a grand scale.