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No peace if East is ignored, warns breakaway LTTE faction

Rebels say it's meaningless to talk of peace without addressing the problems of the people of eastern Lanka, writes PK Balachanddran.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2004 19:06 IST

There can be no political solution to the Tamil problem if the international community continues to ignore the grievances of the people of the eastern districts of Sri Lanka, says Varadan, the spokesman of the rebellious eastern commander of the LTTE, Col Karuna.

Speaking to Hindustan Times on Friday over a phone from somewhere in Batticaloa district, Varadan said that the international community was dealing only with the LTTE led by Prabhakaran, ignoring Karuna, because it had not realised the importance of the East in the Tamil movement and for the resolution of the Tamil question.

"But before long, the international community will realise the importance of the East, especially the district of Batticaloa-Amparai, for a resolution of the Tamil question," Varadan said.

"One cannot talk of a peace process meaningfully without addressing the questions agitating the minds of the people of the East," Varadan said.

Earlier in the week, the Norwegian Peace Envoy Erik Solheim, and the British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, visited Prabhakaran's headquarters in Kilinochchi, and had discussions with the Political Head of the LTTE, SP Tamilselvan.

Solheim told the press in Jaffna that Norway would not mediate between the two warring LTTE factions. When he met Tamilselvan, Solheim was told not to have any dealings with Karuna.

Asked about the security situation in the East, Varadan said that no untoward incident had taken place, though an expeditionary force sent by Prabhakaran comprising two platoons were planning to cross the Verugal river from Trincomalee.

Asked if the Prabhakaran group was planning a covert operation to get Karuna, the spokesman said that that such a thing was very much on the cards. "But they cannot get Karuna.It is practically impossible," Varadan said.The assassination squad might either come from Trincomalee crossing the Verugal river, or from Amparai in the south, he added.

Varadan said that it was true that Prabhakaran had disarmed the Jayanthan brigade, a unit of 600 men loyal to Karuna, which was stationed in the Wanni at the time of the rebellion.

Varadan said that Prabhakaran would be cautious because he knew the temperament and capabilities of Karuna. "They were very close to each other. Prabhakaran had gained from Karuna's advice on military matters," he said.

First Published: Mar 12, 2004 16:36 IST