New LTTE Eastern Chief says Karuna faction no threat
By Asif Fuard in Kokkadicholai
The LTTE's new Political Wing Leader for the Batticaloa and Ampara district said that international recognition was given to the LTTE when world leaders condemned the killing of its Eastern leader Kaushalyan.

Two months after taking over as the political wing leader for the two districts, Illanthirayan said this recognition was detested by the chauvinist elements, but it was a reality.

Excerpts from an interview with Illanthirayan:
Q. What is your role?
Whatever Kauushalyan did I am doing. I have been given the responsibility to serve the people of Batticaloa and Ampara to the best of my abilities and make sure there is peace and development in the area.

Q. What are your main objectives?
Mainly development while there are political goals also. The goals have been given to us by our people.

Q. What is the present status of the LTTE in Batticaloa and Ampara?
A. Since the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement in 2002, we are educating the people from time to time about the peace process within our homeland. Even though the peace talks are stalled, we have been taking the opportunity to motivate the people politically.We also take the opportunity to get involved in several development programmes.

Q. What is the threat from the Karuna faction?
Batticaloa and Ampara districts are not Karuna's strongholds. There have been several incidents allegedly involving the Karuna faction. We believe the Karuna faction is assisted by Army intelligence units. The situation of the Karuna faction is the same as earlier factions such as the Razik group and the Plote Mohan group.

Q. Kaushalyan's killing had shocked many people especially the Tamils in the Batticaloa and Ampara district. Even the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan condemned it. How has it affected the people?
Everyone in the Batticaloa and Ampara district misses Kaushalyan as he had served his people well by developing the war-torn region. His killing not only shocked his followers but also the international community. Condemnation of Kaushalyan's killing is a form of international recognition that is detested by the chauvinist elements.

Q. Kaushalyan was killed in the Government-held area of Welikanda. The army says he did not ask for protection. Why?
When there were several incidents at Vakarai that is predominantly occupied by the LTTE forces, the LTTE Batticaloa and Ampara district military wing leader Colonel Banu wanted to go there and inspect the situation. To go to Vakarai he had to pass Valachchenai, which is a Government controlled area. Through the Peace Secretariat he had requested for an army escort to travel to Vakarai. The request was first delayed by ten days and eventually the request was turned down. This shows how far we can depend on Army escorts for our duties.

Q. The Army has also accused the LTTE of bringing weapons into Government-controlled areas.
In most instances, it was a conspiracy by soldiers manning checkpoints. We do not have to carry weapons when there is no war.

Q. There are reports of tension between the STF and the LTTE in the East.
We extend a friendly hand towards the Government forces but it is often turned down. STF forces attacked one of our female cadres while she was engaged in post-tsunami relief work. Our Ampara Political Officer Kuilinban, and ten others were attacked recently by Government forces. In this manner the STF is harassing civilians for no reason. This is an unfortunate situation.

Q. When Kaushalyan was alive he built a good relationship with the Muslim community in the area. What is the position now between the LTTE and the Muslims?
Yes, we still have close links with the Muslim community. They come frequently here and get involved in various business activities. They also own lands and cultivate rice and various other things. The Muslims and the LTTE are living peacefully. We also have regular meetings with various Muslim representatives.

Q. Why was there no LTTE representative present at the Batticaloa High Courts to give evidence before the Presidential Commission probing the killing of Kaushalyan?
There was a Presidential Commission on the Sathurukondan massacre in Batticaloa. It went nowhere. Now the accused are the Sri Lanka Government forces that are under the command of the President herself. When the accused and the inquirer are of the same command how can one expect justice?

Top  Back to News  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.