COLOMBO: Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman, who was special commander of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the eastern Sri Lankan districts of Batticaloa and Ampara, says that the rift between him and LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran took place in December 2002 when the Tiger chieftain accused him of “betrayal” of the kind Mahendrarajah alias Mahatthya was accused of in the early 1990s and executed.
Prabhakaran was livid with Karuna for persuading his chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham, to sign the “Oslo Declaration” on December 5, 2002, which had committed the LTTE to “exploring the possibility of finding a political solution based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka.”
At a stormy Central Committee meeting of the LTTE at Kilinochchi later in December, Karuna owned that he persuaded a reluctant Balasingham to accept the Norwegian government’s draft declaration while other members of the LTTE delegation were either noncommittal or suggested consultation with Prabhakaran before signing.
Defending his action, Karuna said that he supported the signing of the Declaration only to “save the LTTE from isolation” in the international community, which had become hostile to armed movements following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack in New York.
“Prabhakaran was a good man, but he had no knowledge of globalisation,” Karuna told The Sunday Standard.
“At the special Central Committee meeting at Kilinochchi, Prabhakaran tore a copy of the Oslo Declaration to bits and accused me of selling out the struggle for Tamil Eelam. I tried to explain to him that the Declaration had only said that the two sides would explore a federal solution, not accept it. The LTTE could always quit the talks if these were unsatisfactory, I submitted. But my arguments fell on deaf ears.”
“However, the real sting was in Prabhakaran’s charge that I had betrayed him as Mahatthya (his deputy) did earlier. This hurt me deeply, because unlike Mahatthya, who was planning to kill Prabhakaran, I was only trying to save him and the LTTE,” Karuna stated.
Sensing trouble, Karuna asked the European ceasefire monitors to urgently send a helicopter to fly him to his base in Batticaloa. “Once in Batticaloa, I refused to answer summons to come to Kilinochchi, knowing full well what would happen if I did,” Karuna said.