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Arrested LTTE chief knew Rajiv was to be killed
NEW DELHI, AUG 7 (IANS):
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Published on 8 Aug. 2009 12:18 AM IST
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The new chief of the Tamil Tigers, now in Sri Lankan custody, after he was nabbed in Malaysia on August 5 was one of the rare few outside the group’s intelligence set-up ,who knew months earlier that former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was to be assassinated. Without taking Gandhi’s name, Selvarasa Pathmanathan alias Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP told a Sri Lankan Tamil in Tamil Nadu in November 1990 that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) would soon target the ‘Indian leadership’. KP - as he is widely known - made the explosive revelation over telephone from a foreign country six months before a LTTE woman suicide bomber finally killed Gandhi at an election rally near Chennai May 21, 1991. But KP, in contrast to a section of media reports, is not an accused in the Gandhi case and is not directly linked to the killing. He is merely a suspect in the eyes of the Multi Disciplinary Monitoring Authority (MDMA), which is still probing the larger conspiracy angle related to Gandhi’s killing. KP’s advance knowledge of the assassination has intrigued Indian security agencies. One logical explanation was the LTTE’s absolute dependency on KP, who was the key international arms procurer for the Tigers.He became the LTTE chief after the death of the group’s founder leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in May this year. Another senior LTTE member outside its intelligence unit who too knew about the Gandhi killing in advance was Tiruchi Shanthan, who in 1990-91 was in charge of all Tiger operations in Tamil Nadu. So, questioning KP could yield enormously useful information to India since the pellets, explosives and the Singapore Fragmentation Grenade (SFG) used in the assassination reached the LTTE courtesy the arrested man though they were meant for the war in Sri Lanka and not for the Gandhi killing per se. However, if India decides to ask its security agencies to question KP, those picked for the task should be well clued into LTTE affairs. There is a group of dominantly low-key officers in India, both serving and retired, who have followed the Tigers for decades. But it has been seen in the past that qualified people often get sidelined on such missions. KP’s link to the Gandhi case is a small part of the mammoth role he played in building up the LTTE since 1983. Just as there could have been no LTTE without Prabhakaran, there may have been no Prabhakaran minus KP. In India, he secretly operated a dairy farm in Tamil Nadu in the 1980s. It is courtesy KP that the LTTE gained thousands of tonnes of arms and ammunition, including advanced defence systems, anti-tank weapons, sniper rifles, mortars, rocket propelled grenades, ammunition, night vision devices, metal detectors, fibreglass boats as well as sophisticated radio and wireless communications. One Indian official said he was ‘the most elusive of all pimpernels’. It was due to KP that the LTTE got its first small aircraft. Prabhakaran sidelined the man from 2003, bringing in place another loyalist known by his nom de guerre Castro, who was no match for KP’s natural talents. As the LTTE began to sink, Prabhakaran realised the folly and resurrected KP this year. It was too late. Many LTTE watchers believe that Prabhakaran might still be alive if only KP’s wings had not been clipped six years ago.

 
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