Prabhakaran cannot escape from Sri Lanka, says former aide

January 26th, 2009 - 12:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 26 (IANS) The Tamil Tigers’ cornered chief Velupillai Prabhakaran cannot escape from Sri Lanka, and even if he were to do so it would amount to his “political death”, a former confidant said Monday.Vinayagamurthy Muralitharan alias Karuna, who revolted and broke away from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in March 2004, also said that the Tigers would soon be confined to the jungles of Mullaitivu district.

Even that would not guarantee them a secure future because the Tamil population was no more supportive of the Tamil Tigers, Karuna told IANS in a telephonic interview from Sri Lanka.

Karuna’s comments came a day after Sri Lankan troops pushed their way into Mullaitivu town, the last major stronghold of the LTTE, which has steadily retreated from all its bases unable to face a determined military advance.

Karuna, 42, was once a bodyguard of Prabhakaran and then served as the LTTE’s commander for the eastern region of Sri Lanka. He was considered a Prabhakaran loyalist and took part in the talks between the LTTE and Colombo during the Norway-sponsored peace process that started in 2002.

The rapid shrinking of LTTE territory in Sri Lanka has fuelled speculation that Prabhakaran, 54, may have escaped from the country or may be thinking on those lines.

Karuna insisted that escaping would not be easy - any more.

“Prabhakaran cannot escape from Sri Lanka. He cannot go to India because of the problems there. He is wanted for the (1991) killing of (former prime minister) Rajiv Gandhi. Going to Southeast Asia is also not going to be easy.

“But even if he flees Sri Lanka, it will amount to his political death because he won’t be able to return to Sri Lanka.”

Karuna said the LTTE was now left with only 30 sq km of land area and 20 km along the coastal belt, all in Mullaitivu district. “The army is advancing from both sides,” he said.

“They (Tigers) have been severely damaged militarily. The only major place they still control is Puthikkudiyirippu,” he added, referring to a small town located on the A 35 highway that links Paranthan and Mullaitivu.

“But they cannot control even that for too long,” he went on. “In two or three weeks even the areas now under LTTE control will be captured by the military. After that they will be left only with the jungles. They will then go back to small scale hit and run guerrilla war.

“Fighting from the jungles will not be easy. We did it (when I was in the LTTE) against the Indian troops in (Sri Lanka’s) northeast because we had tremendous support from the people. Ordinary people gave us food and medicines when Indian troops had us cornered in Mullaitivu. All that has changed.”

“Even people in Jaffna and the east have mostly turned against the LTTE. In the Wanni (region), there is a lot of discontent over what the LTTE has done for so many yeas.

“In such circumstances it will be impossible, not just difficult, to sustain even a guerrilla war. Yes, one can survive in the jungles but that too will be difficult in the long run without people’s support.

“Also, now the Sri Lankan forces have very modern technology that can help them locate where the LTTE is, even in the forests,” he said.

Karuna blamed Prabhakaran for the LTTE’s present mess.

“There were many opportunities when the Tigers could have come to a honourable political settlement. But Prabhakaran followed a totalitarian policy. He would not listen (to us).

“When the peace process was on, I tried to reason with him, tried to persuade him to go for some sort of a settlement. But he was too proud of his strength. Our (2004) defection changed everything.

“When Prabhakaran fought the Indian troops, he was young. That is not the case now. Knowing him, I know he will be mentally distraught today,” Karuna said.

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