Split in LTTE dissident camp: Karuna sacked by second in command

Karuna, who broke away from the LTTE and formed the pro-government TMVP has now been sacked from the Working Committee, reports PK Balachandran.
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Updated on Oct 08, 2007 08:21 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByPK Balachandran, Colombo

Karuna, who broke away from the LTTE and formed the pro-government Tamileela Makkal Viduthlai Puligal (TMVP) in 2004, has now been sacked from the TMVP's Working Committee by a rival faction led by Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyaan.

A statement issued by the Pillaiyaan group said on Monday, that Karuna had been sacked for financial irregularities.

However, efforts were still on to effect a patch up between Pillaiyaan and Karuna. "Some members of the Working Committee support Karuna, while some others support Pillaiyaan. Discussions on a compromise are going on," TMVP spokesman Asad Mowlana told Hindustan Times.

Reports said that Pillaiyaan's group had been complaining that Karuna was keeping 70% of the money collected from the people for his private use, and giving only 30% to the TMVP.

Karuna's Absence

Karuna is currently abroad, presumably in the UK, at the request of the Sri Lankan government. His presence in Sri Lanka had become an embarrassment for the government which was accused by the international community of being "complicit" in the crimes committed by him, crimes like abduction of children and extortion of money from civilians.

Utilising Karuna's absence from the East and now from the country itself, Pillaiyaan became the de facto head of the TMVP. By an earlier arrangement, he was to keep his activities confined to Trincomalee district, but recently, he had broken out of the confines of Trincomalee and started setting up offices in Batticaloa district, the TMVP's heartland.

Journalists who had visited Batticaloa recently, said that Karuna's lieutenants had disappeared and only Pillayaan's men were around.

Man on the spot

It is said that the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, with whom the TMVP has been working, prefer Pillaiyaan to Karuna because it is Pillayaan who is in the field and actually working with the government forces.

According to Daily Mirror Pillaiyaan was a greater military leader than Karuna even when they were with the LTTE. Pillaiyaan had won kudos from the LTTE's leaders for the way he led the suicide squads which played a critical role in the various successful military campaigns in the late 1990s.

Since he is high on the hit list of the LTTE, Karuna has been leading a sheltered life, away from the scene of action in the volatile Sri Lankan East. Over time, he lost touch with the ground realities there, and had begun to lose support among the junior leaders and the rank and file of the TMVP.

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