Prabhakaran Living in Bunker 18-22 Feet Underground –Karuna Amman



by Nilantha Ilangamuwa with Col. Karuna Amman

(August 16, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) It was a surprise meeting while arrangements were being made for his security and Sri Lanka Guardian happened to stumble in. However he welcomed us with his friendly smile and shared lots of details over his life.

No doubt Vinayagamoorthy Muralidaran, aka. Col. Karuna Amman, is another big player in the Tamil Ealam struggle in Sri Lanka. He was an LTTE commander who enjoyed perhaps the highest confidence of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. When V. Prabhakaran started his guerilla warfare with terror outfits, he lost many members in the war with some killed on his own orders whom he suspected of being involved with external players against the Tigers’ constitution. Of special note is Prabhakaran’s school friend Mahendrarajah alias Mahaththaya killed on his own orders allegedly after finding out his connection with Research and Analysis Wing, the external intelligence unit of India’s.

“Making contact with the Tiger leader is a very difficult matter because he doesn’t trust in people easily or immediately. He is never in a hurry making friendship with others,” according to Karuna Amman who had instant access to him at one time.

Col. Karuna has left many a historic landmark in the history of the LTTE. As a commander Karuna has won major operations against the Sri Lanka Forces in the East as well as in the North. Some sources say that Karuna joined the LTTE when he was a 14 year old boy as a child soldier. But the claim is rejected by Karuna who says that he joined the LTTE when he was doing the Advanced Level examinations with science subjects in the early 1980s. “It was a bad period. Many Tamil people who were affected by racial violence in Colombo and other Sinhala dominant areas came to Batticaloa for their protection after suffering the loss of their family members and property,” Karuna told Sri Lanka Guardian’s Nilantha Ilangamuwa.

“It was a major reason I joined the LTTE as a freedom fighter,” he points out.

This is Ilangamuwa’s fifth time of talking to Karuna Amman after he broke away from the LTTE in 2004 March. This time they were able to talk freely. He shared lots of details about his life experiences as an LTTE commander, prisoner and politician.

“I never worked as a thief; also I never lived without taking cognizance of reality. I came up from the ground level because I had no tolerance when every development in the life round me was bad for my people,” he said.

Additionally he point outs, “When I accepted my visit to London I used a false passport and they jailed me for it but they gave me maximum security.”

“Now that I’m back in Sri Lanka, people will accept me and my politics in the future. I want to see change. That is now happening in the East. When I broke away from the LTTE many people thought they could kill me within a short period. They thought it was the same internal crisis like in the past. But not at all. I openly challenged Prabhakaran in what was a major incident within the LTTE. Now people can understand that the LTTE’ way is wrong. They will never win their mythical dream,” he said. “Their voices come like a cry from hell now; I would like to call it, ‘The echo from Hell’.”

Karuna Amman is a father of three children. Once the most important field commander of the LTTE, he was in the first batch that took training under the Indian Army in Madras (Chennai). He was one of six members who were selected by India’s Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) for further training in special intelligence.

Here is part one of an Exclusive Interview by Nilantha Ilangamuwa with Vinayagamoorthy Muralidaran aka.Col. Karuna Amman on behalf of Sri Lanka Guardian. We have already published his special message to the Tamil people in Sri Lanka and abroad on the present situation in the Country and the TMVP’s plans for the future.

First I thank you accepting our interview request while you’re facing serious death threats from the LTTE and other political opponents.

Question: As my first question, please let me know your opinion on the present political and military situation in Sri Lanka?

Well… We are very happy over the new perspective countrywide including the military against terrorism. Politically they are working with a proper plan. But here in Sri Lanka the cost of living is a serious problem. People are facing much trouble over this. However when we establish a peaceful situation in the country we can buildup a better country, where all are people are enjoying peace and harmony.

Now the Government of Sri Lanka and its policy are internationally and region-wide going well. The world would be happy if GoSL finds a sustainable solution when they have finished off the cancer of terrorism.

Question: Well… I would like to known details of your life. From when have you been an LTTE member? Some say that you joined the LTTE as a child soldier at 14 years of age. Is that true?

No … that is not true. I joined the LTTE during my Advance Level period. I was 17 or 18 years old. I was the youngest male in our family. We have five sisters and one brother. Our father was a farmer.

In 1983 when I was in school in Batticaloa, I followed science subjects for my Advance Level. Meanwhile in Colombo and other areas there was started racial violence against Tamil people after 13 Sri Lankan Army soldiers were killed in a claymore blast in Jaffna. After that hundreds of people came to Batticaloa for the protection of their lives after they lost family members and other properties. At seeing this suffering I decided to keep away from school and join the LTTE as a freedom fighter for archiving our own state.

Q. Who was your first immediate leader in the LTTE?

His name is Jonathan Father. At that time to the people in Batticaloa he seemed very genuinely a person who had in-depth political vision for the country’s political developments and the future of the Tamil people.

Q. Then what happened?

When I joined the LTTE and visited Jaffna, I was given some small weapons training. But generally we had to take all serious training from India. As a result I went to India by boat and arrived in Madras (now Chennai).

More than 300 of us members were trained together. We stayed at Neethi Lodge next to the First Madras Temple. The LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran also joined us some times, but he had a separate office in the area. It was called MO for Military Office.

Our team was divided into three batches. I joined with the third batch by the Indian Army. After that we went to Shelann Jungle and got basic weapons training under Indian forces. Seven members including me from all of our three batches took further special training under the Indian Army that included basic information about Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), the external intelligence wing of India’s, followed by more specialized training on intelligence work and other basics things about guerilla warfare.

Q.Did Prabhakaran also join the R&AW training?

No… it was a small group trained specially for the LTTE’s intelligence wing but Prabhakaran knows all those things imparted to us during the training. Meanwhile Prabhakaran visited some foreign countries and collected various books on war tactics and the history of war. When he returned to his base from his travels he ordered that all the books he collected to be translated into Tamil and he referred to them and studied them deeply. That was a time I was very close with him. Many times did I visit his MO and he explained very many things to me on our future plans. He especially knew that if we can managed to keep going the troubled situation in the South, we could continue our fighting. “Political cohabitation with the South is the biggest enemy of our struggle”, was his oft-repeated point.

Q.Who are the other leaders who took RAW training with you? Are they still with the LTTE?

I think Castro is the only man who got trained with us and is still with the LTTE. The others are keeping away from the LTTE. Some have been killed during the confrontations. Daya, Appi, Vasanthan and others are no more with the LTTE. Vasanthan is now in Singapore. He kept away from the LTTE after arguments with the senior LTTE leadership.

Q. What was the Indian Forces’ policy on Sri Lanka at that time? Did they want to see created a separate Eelam?

Actually we cannot understand if they clearly supported Eelam. I think Eelam really was a dream of Prabhakaran’s and the other militant groups’. But India’s real plan was to create trouble in Sri Lanka, and engineer a situation where Sri Lanka agrees to minorities enjoying equal rights just like the majority.

Q. When did you come back to Sri Lanka from India?

In 1984 we landed in Jaffna and started our struggle against the Security Forces. All of us 20 members first came to Jaffna while the Indian Forces sent arms. We got some more arms after destroying police stations and other security force bases.

We informed the details of all our operations to Prabhakaran who was in Madras at that time at his office. By 1985 we had 160 members in our Movement (LTTE).

Meanwhile, the first Peace Talks were held in Thimpu. All major Tamil militant movements joined together for talks with the Government. But I’m sure Prabhakaran never believed that the talks would archieve any solution to the problem. Prabhakaran described the late President JR Jayawardene as “a first class crook who tried to eliminate us and implement his authoritarian regime.”

After the Thimpu Talks Prabhakaran came to Sri Lanka and he joined with cadres in our operations. The first thing, he planned how to take over other military groups under the LTTE Secondly he planned how to create communal violence and to keep it continuing.
He has done it well before the 1990s.

Q. How did he do it? What strategy did Prabhakaran use for that?

He particularly kept track with every political development in southern politics as well as Tamil politics. This made it easy for his next plan. Also since he had come to Sri Lanka and joined with his colleagues in the struggle against the Government while the other Tamil militant leaders never came here and were doing remote control acting, it was an easy thing for him to eliminate the other militant movement from the struggle.

Q. Do you think it was a mistake?

Its bad effects are adversely affecting the Tamil Community today, but at that time I could not see or understand that attacks against our brother movements was wrong.

Q. Meanwhile Prabhakaran got close to former President R. Premadasa. How did that happen?

It’s simple. Prabhakaran always senses political changes in the South. He never believed President J.R.Jayawardene. Premadasa therefore become a good alternative to JR in his thinking. So Prabhakaran was making feelers to get in touch with him. Prabhakaran tried to become one of Premadasa’s best friends. Also I think Premadasa believed Prabhakaran more than any other politician or party in the South.

Q. Has Prabhakaran ever met President Premadasa?

Actually I think Mr. Premadasa planned to and he hoped for it, but Prabhakaran sharply kept away and he used only his agents to deal with him. Meanwhile we used some intelligence personnel to collect his personal details. They never met.

Q. Did President Premadasa give any money or weapons to the LTTE?

It has happened so many times. They even handed over some weapons to me at the Welioya warfront, and lots of money was sent to our accounts.

Q. Was President Premadasa involved in Gen. Kobbekaduwa’s and other senior security officials’ assassinations in the North?

Never… Premadasa didn’t know about them. It was a blunder on our part, that incident with Kobbekaduwa. Normally our cadres target senior security officials who use a pickup vehicle. That day also the same thing happened. One of our cadres setup a pressure bomb that targets the vehicle but unfortunately senior leaders came together.

Q. Do you think the LTTE has a powerful intelligence network, that can receive every relevant detail bout the security Forces?

Of course. We received information of all major incidents inside the Security Forces within a short time its their happening – especially on new operations, new changes in the leaders and area commanders, new weapons capabilities, and so on. All this information we got within a short time.

Anther good point I would like to remind you of. It’s about Babu who was targeting President Premadasa. Babu sent a letter to Prabhakaran four days before the attack and in that he said, “One of Premadasa’s friends is very close with me and his daughter hopes to start a love affair with me. But I don’t care about anything other than my target. I’m waiting for the target.” I have personally read that letter.

Q. Meanwhile Prabhakaran kept away from India. Actually why did he keep away from India?

I personally think he has comparatively good reasons to justify his decision against India. The Indian leader issued a threat to him during his meeting with Premier Rajiv Gandhi. Prabhakaran was trying to change Indian policy. He started fasting against India. Finally they became enemies. Meanwhile the Indo-Lanka Accord was signed and the IPKF was deployed in Sri Lanka for operations against the LTTE.

Q. Do you think if the IPKF would have continued their operations against the LTTE, they could have finished the LTTE off?

We think so, perhaps not… you see, the people’s support and the ground situation was probably the best for the LTTE. Especially when they are discriminated Tamil people. Also large numbers of women, and girls were raped by the IPKF soldiers.

Q. Meanwhile Premier Rajiv Gandhi was killed? Did you know that plan before it was executed?

Personally I don’t know, but I and some senior members of the LTTE were totally opposed to the plan. Finally however it was put into operation. Prabhakaran planned the use of the girl called Dhanu who was raped by Indian soldiers when they were working in Sri Lanka.

Q. Where is Prabhakaran living in the Wanni today?

He has different bases. He doesn’t have a permanent place. But before I left the LTTE he was using a base in Pudukudiiruppu.

Q. Have you visited inside Prabhakaran’s safe house?

Of course. We have watched films together many times. He is interested in films that are based on war.

Q. According to Adel Balasingham, Prabhakaran is living in an underground bunker. You say you had spent time with him in his safe house. Can you let me know the kind of safe house he has?

Yes… that’s true. I have visited his underground bunker many times as his personal bodyguard, and also as area commander. S.P. Thamilchelvan also has joined me on these visits. He was the most trusted man to Prabhakaran.

Basically Prabhakaran and other key leaders of the LTTE have many underground bunkers. They were constructed beneath a concrete layer between 18 feet and 22 feet deep. They offer protection from air strikes and other powerful explosions. Even inside of the bunker they have a few roads to exits. These are constructed in z-shape. But I don’t know his present arrangements. May be he has already changed everything.

To Be Continued….
- Sri Lanka Guardian