"LTTE's self proclaimed leader in exile… Kumaran Patmanathan alias KP was the key arms smuggler who conspired to assassinate several VVIPs including the former Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi." That was Sri Lanka government’s portal news.lk’s description of KP on August 7, 2009, two days after his arrest in Kuala Lumpur.
A year later, the smuggler and conspirator has become a VVIP himself. Seldom does a prisoner – he’s yet to be produced in court after a year – get to invite business delegates from abroad, fly to other parts of the country with them and even issue a statement inviting foreign investments.
But KP, a terrorist by the government’s own admission, is no ordinary prisoner. He had two dozen aliases during his career of buying arms and gathering money for the LTTE but the government now sees him under a new softer light, almost a halo – a critical bridge between Colombo and a section of the reluctant but rich Tamil diaspora; also someone who would have the lucrative key to LTTE’s international assets including bank accounts and financial assets.
Probably as a small measure of gratitude, the happy, expectant government has bestowed upon him the secretary-ship of a new NGO, the `North-East Rehabilitation and Development Organisation’ (NERDO). Which is not too bad for government patronage for someone in Interpol’s most wanted list and wanted in a neighbouring country for his role in murdering a former PM.
"We need your help. We need it now. We need your physical, intellectual and financial contribution. We need your advice and plans,’’ KP recently wrote to Tamil diaspora businessmen with all the enthusiasm of a broker.
The perennially suspicious and Marxist party, Janatha Vimukti Peramuna (JVP) found all this new found cosiness and exchange of letters a bit jarring. It pointed out that while KP gets to wear a new cap and give leisurely newspaper interviews, Sri Lanka has another high-profile prisoner, former army chief, Sarath Fonseka, who was actually on the winning side in the civil war but is now charged with corruption and conspiracy.
As for India, the Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency of the Central Bureau of Investigation would be keenly keeping track of KP who was suspected to have known about Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination months before it took place.