The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is militarily broken and will not be able to undo the reverses suffered at the hands of the Sri Lankan army (SLA), a former LTTE leader has said.
``They (the LTTE) cannot come back. No way. Their time is over. They might carry out small, small attacks for a year or so but they are finished,’’ Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, popularly known as Colonel Karuna, told HT.
The rebels, Karuna added, still had about 1500 trained cadres and were surrounded by about a 100000 civilians in a small patch of land in the north-eastern district of Mullaitivu.
Prabhkaran, he claimed, had moved out of the battle zone and was now hiding in the thick jungles of Semamadu or Muralikulam in western or northern Lanka.
Last week, Karuna, who spent 22 violent years with the LTTE till he defected in 2004 to form a Tamil political party, joined the Sinhala-majority ruling coalition as its National Integration and Rebuilding minister.
Since defecting, the former LTTE leader is number one on the rebel’s hit list. Karuna changes homes frequently and his movements are only known to his closest confidantes.
Karuna said he is not worried about his safety. He, however, does remember the last words Prabhakaran told him during their final meeting. "You are a traitor. You have sold the freedom struggle," Karuna said, quoting the LTTE chief.
Karuna spent decades as Prabhakaran’s trusted lieutenant carrying out operations in the east in the rebels’ fight for a separate Tamil homeland. But after quitting, he was quick to denounce the idea of a separate Tamil state. ``We will never get separate homeland. We need a federal solution,’’ Karuna said.
The former LTTE leader launched the TMVP in 2004 but was not contended playing only a part in regional politics.
"I liked national politics. I wanted to join national politics. I did not want to become the chief minister (of a province) and did not want to maintain small political parties," Karuna – whose four of five sisters are school principals in the country -- said in halting but confident English.
It helped that he was in constant touch with President Mahinda Rajapaksa. "The Rajapaksa brothers (defence secretary Gotabhaya and political advisor Basil) are nice to me," he said. Nice enough to bestow a ministry on him. "I can manage everything. Like during my LTTE time, I will use less man power for high profit in the ministry," he said.