A close associate of Prabhakaran speaks to a political magazine in Tamilnad – M. Thirunavakarasu – Former advisor to LTTE
- Anandapuram battle Prabha’s Waterloo
- Special cyanide preparation for family
An article that appeared in a political periodical in Tamilnadu recently attracted much attention of the people there. The article was based on an interview given by a Sri Lankan named M.Thirunavakarasu who had claimed that he had been a close associate of the LTTE Leader Prabhakaran, and had been with the latter up to May 16 this year, confined to a small swathe of land in the no-fire zone, just three days ahead of the last battle that eliminated the entire LTTE leadership including Prabhakaran.
Thirunavakarasu, though well known among Tamil readers as a political analyst, had been in reality an advisor to the LTTE leadership. He has readily admitted to his being with Prabhakaran up to May 16. But he had declined to divulge how he managed to reach the Indian shores. National Intelligence here had already identified Thirunavakarasu as a person who had been in the inner circle of the LTTE for several decades. They had gathered further information about his antecedents from the Internet. According to ant-LTTE website `Theni’, Thirunavakarasu too had played as important a role as the outfit’s ideologue Anton Balasingham did. The website says that this person was the livewire behind the LTTE’s move to drive all Muslim residents from Jaffna after giving them a 24-hour- notice. He had even advised Prabhakaran to shift Jaffna university to Kilinochchi, `Theni’ website reveals.
Now an inmate in a refugee camp in Tamilnadu, Thirunavakarasu is no longer an important character. He has now entered the limelight because of his rare value as a person in a position to give a first hand ball by ball account of the last days of the final battle off Mullaitivu, that saw the tragic end of the LTTE
Following are excerpts of the interview given by Thirunavakarasu
Q: Could you give an account of the last days of the so called armed struggle for Eelam ?
A: LTTE fighters and the people were resigned to the impending total defeat when they found themselves surrounded by the Army. Civilians who had taken refuge in large bunkers began leaving en masse for the military-controlled areas. In the absence of a proper co-ordination process, the Tiger cadres did not know what they should do in the circumstances. All were in a state of fear and anxiety. We had to live every second fearing imminent death. Living with death staring at you, is a greater tragedy than dying itself. This is an experience you cannot adequately describe in words. You can grasp the horror of this experience by only living it!
Q: What were LTTE’s preparations to face the impending calamity?
A: LTTE leader Prabhakaran had understood what was coming. He knew they were heading towards a devastating end. The faith that the LTTE leaders had placed in the success of their armed struggle appeared to be waning. At one stage the LTTE hierarchy were fully confident that Sri Lanka Army would not succeed in capturing Kilinochchi.
However, when the Army, demonstrating its superior military might, began their forward march after taking the well fortified Kilinochchi bastion, both Tiger cadres and civilians began to feel that the Eelam war was doomed to failure. Prabhakaran still stuck to his decision to continue fighting. He did not appear to accept defeat. The scenes of pitched battles during the last days of the Eelam War Four were so fierce that even Prabhakaran may have been unnerved by their ferocity.
The senior Tiger leaders had by now realised that Sri Lanka Army’s target was Prabhakaran himself. They persuaded Prabhakaran to move to Anandapuram with an escort of 600 Tiger commandos. However, by this time the Army had beaten them to this move by surrounding Anandapuram. Gadaffi, Theepan, Vidusha and Durga were among the commando leaders who were in charge of Prabhakaran’s security. However, a massive assault on their camp by the Army soon afterwards, left several hundreds of Tiger commandos dead. Prabhakaran who under tight security by commandos like Bhanu , had a narrow escape.
Q: What were the orders Prabhakaran had issued to his cadres during the last days of the Eelam war?
A: During the last days, top LTTE leaders had realised the futility of carrying on the fight. So naturally they discussed the possibility of a formal surrender. Prabhakaran scotched the talk of a possible surrender saying, “Our people have held talks with Hillary Clinton. So we can expect America to intervene. Let us try to withstand the military assault for at least another three days.”
But several obstacles came up in the way of an American intervention. Prabhakaran realised too late the ground reality that the US could not intervene disregarding India’s interests. By the time the reality dawned on him, the Army was already closing in on the last swathe of land in the no fire zone where they were cornered, for the final assault. And this reality was the signal for even LTTE cadres to join the exodus of civilians to the Army-ruled territory. Later there were reports that Tiger leaders had been killed by the Army.
Q: According to your information how did Prabhakaran come to his end?
A: Prabhakaran did not entertain the idea of surrendering till his last moment. He always said that death was far better than a meek surrender. There was a large group of senior LTTE cadres who remained with Prabhakaran till his end. Even those who were very close to him, may not have been privy to his thinking in his last hour.
Q: Certain reports say that Prabhakaran’s family members were killed during fighting. There are other reports that say that they managed to skip the country. What is the truth?
A: Prabhakaran kept his family members in the territory under his sway. He did not want to send them abroad. He made it a point to keep his three children always in the public eye. He strongly believed that sending his family members abroad would undermine his organisation and threaten its survival. His eldest son Charles Anthony was at the battle front. As the fighting took a fierce turn, some Tiger leaders had wanted to send Prabhakaran’s wife Madivadani abroad for safety. However, Prabhakaran had immediately shot down the idea. It appears that Prabhakaran had already decided that the end of the war was also end of his family. Therefore, he got a certain doctor to make a special cyanide preparation for use by his family members.
Q: Do you mean that none of Prabhakaran’s family members could escape alive?
A: When the final battle was drawing towards its end, I had occasion to visit a bunker that was close to mine. Prabhakaran’s father and mother were there. As the battle was raging, they later made their way to an IDP camp in Vavuniya. A subsequent report said that they were taken elsewhere for security reasons. I heard that the Sri Lanka Army is treating them well. Charles Anthony died fighting. I know nothing about the fate that befell the other two children.
Q: Do you think there is truth in reports that a group of LTTE cadres are still hiding in jungles?
A: During the final military operations, about 10,000 LTTE cadres surrendered to the Army. There were about 24,000 LTTE fighters at the inception of Eelam War Four. Of them about 7,000 died fighting. Some 2500 had gone into hiding in jungles. They have no capability to launch attacks. There is no co-ordination among them either.
Q: What information have you got about the LTTE Intelligence chief Pottu Amman?
A: Now that Prabhakaran is dead and gone, there is no possibility that Pottu Amman and Susai are among the living. Therefore, there cannot be any truth about reports that Pottu Amman is in the Army custody.
Q: Did the LTTE believe that the outcome of general parliamentary elections in India could make a big change in the battle scenario at the last moment?
A: There was a general feeling that the Indian Congress Party would come back to power. People were aware of the reality that the main rival political camp was not strong enough. The LTTE too did not expect a change in India’s power equation either.
(Translation by Ramesh Kumar)