Who thinks East? And who thinks “Arugam”?

23. november 2008


EPC has no powers, says PillayanInterviewed by Chandani Kirinde

Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan conceded that his relationship with Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna had deteriorated in the recent past. Pillayan in an interview with The Sunday Times, while pointing out that police powersA?a??a??that he says would ensure freedom of movementA?a??a??were more important than concentrating on development, also complained that the Provincial Council was not being consulted on any of the projects that have been launched so far.


What is the relationship between you and Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna?

There is tension over KarunaA?a??a??s demand for restructuring the party. He wants to bring his men to the Executive Committee. I registered this party when the government decided to hold local and provincial elections in the east early this year. Karuna was out of the country at that time. Because we wanted to prepare for elections we registered as the TMVP. There is no necessity to make any changes now. Pyridium phenazopyridine cost

Why is Karuna demanding a restructure of the party and registering it under a different name ?

I understand he is trying to grab political power from us. He does not have any official status in the TMVP. Since he returned he has been trying to forcibly occupy our offices in the Batticaloa district. I have shifted my office to a new building due to this problem.

Karuna didnA?a??a??t want you to contest as the Chief Ministerial candidate but instead he wanted the Batticaloa Mayor, Sivageetha Prabhakaran to contest for the post. Is this correct ?

We decided she was suitable for the MayorA?a??a??s post because of her political experience within the district. The Chief MinisterA?a??a??s post is an important one and it would have been difficult for her to handle the work as there is a lot of pressure. Therefore, I decided to contest for the post.

What are the main obstacles you are facing to develop the province making use of the powers vested in the Provincial Council under the 13th amendment?

To tell you frankly, since I took office in May this year not a single person has been recruited to the Council. I donA?a??a??t have any powers to implement the 13th Amendment. We have asked the central government to give us the powers vested in the 13th Amendment, but Karuna who is with the government is now convincing the government not to give powers to me.

We see a lot of development activities including building of new roads, bridges, providing electricity and telephone facilities to the newly liberated areas. Have you been consulted on these projects ?

No. Only a few cabinet ministers in the district are directly involved in these projects. This is not what we need at the moment. We first need freedom of movement to travel within the district and outside.

We saw that some of the TMVP offices opened by cadres loyal to you, now being closed down. Why is this ?

In the recent past there have been some incidents in these camps located in the mainland as well as in the newly liberated areas. The offices have been closed down to prevent more attacks taking place among the Tamil brotherhood.

There is information that former LTTE cadres whom you have de-listed have returned to the TMVP, stating that their lives are in danger. How serious is the problem of infiltration?

Quite serious. We are trying to identify these people and send some of them back. If they lead a normal life we will leave them alone. Otherwise they will be dealt with according to the law. After the eastern province was cleared, we were aware that a handful of LTTE cadres had returned to the districts of Batticaloa and Ampara. We are currently helping the security forces to track them down.

You are demanding police powers, but in contrast Karuna has said that such powers are not necessary. Your reactions?

If police powers are devolved to the provincial council I can protect all our members. They can also be absorbed into the police force so that they get official recogntion. They will be disciplined and any action could be taken against those persons who act against the law.

What impact has the killing of your private Secretary Krishnaswamy Nandagopan alias Ragu had overall?

His slaying is not only a great loss to me personally but also to the Tamil community on the whole. He was truly concerned about the people of the east. Money and positions were of little importance to him. He was also a knowledgable person. He was born in Batticaloa and based in Trincomalee and therefore had a good knowledge about the problems in the Eastern Province and could have done good service.

You said the killing of Ragu was not the work of the LTTE. But Karuna blames the LTTE?

I will say it again. It was not the work of the LTTE. This was definitely the work of a group who does not like to see the province developing. Very soon I will prove it. We have vital clues. Nobody knew where Ragu and I were staying in Athurugiriya, the day prior to the killing. No one knew of our movements too, except the one other person who was with us. Singulair full price

There are allegations from the Muslim community in Kathankudy, that TMVP cadres are moving into the area and intimidating and threatening them. A few Muslim civilians were shot dead too. How do you hope to foster ethnic harmony in this kind of environment?

Yes, in the past there were some incidents in Kathankudy. We have punished some of our members who were involved in such incidents. Now we have established a good rapport with the Muslims.

There is a strong belief that after Karuna returned he has been having the upper hand by using his powers and influence with the government to sideline you. What is your reaction?

The people in Batticaloa district are aware about KarunaA?a??a??s behaviour and how he betrayed his community by leaving them and trying to lead a life of luxury in a western country. That itself clearly brings out his selfishness. I am the one who helped the government forces to liberate the people of Mutur and Sampoor. Some of our cadres were even killed in the operation, but Karuna did not even express his condolences to the families of these cadres. Because of these incidents the people have lost confidence in him. I challenge him, that if has a support base in the east to come forward and contest the next parliamentary elections.
I have confidence in the Chief Minister

Playing down the reported rift between himself and Pillayan, UPFA parliamentarian Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna said police powers to the Eastern Province were not an urgent need and priority should be given to developing the province. In an interview with The Sunday Times he said he was concerned about LTTE cadres infiltrating the TMVP.


There are reports about clashes between Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan and yourself. Any comment?

We have no major problems. Some of our political opponents and the LTTE are trying to create problems between us. Some media are also involved. There are some minor problems. We are a democratic party and there are bound to be arguments and disagreements, but they are not serious.

Who are these political opponents?

I donA?a??a??t want to say who they are individually, but the TNA is one such group.

Pillayan says that your interest in restructuring the party is to get your members into the Executive committee. What is your response?

Even before I returned to the country, I advised Pillayan to call for a Central Committee meeting and restructure the party by including senior cadres of the TMVP. Presently I am in consultation with some intellectuals to reorganize the party. We will drop the name Puligal (Tigers).

How serious is the threat of LTTE infiltration in the East ?

After 22 years of fighting we cannot bring every thing under control in one year. There are small pockets of the LTTE operating there. They killed a university student and now a doctor. That doctor was loved by all the people of the area. One lady called me and said the doctor was like her son. The people have clearly rejected the LTTE, but their intelligence operatives are carrying out such brutal attacks to destabilise the east.

But, what about the infiltration into the TMVP?

We are concerned about the infiltration. We have started a screening process with the help of the security forces. We are not going to enlist any ex-LTTE cadres to the TMVP. We are also carrying out search operations.

How did your acquaintance with the Chief Minister begin ?

When I broke away from the LTTE and formed the TMVP, he was one of the people who joined me. In my absence, I appointed Kannan as the leader but, he was killed by the LTTE, then I appointed my brother Reji, but he too was killed by the LTTE. Thereafter, I appointed Pillayan to the position.

Do you have confidence in the Chief Minister ?

Yes I am happy with him. Also it is important that a Tamil person be the Chief Minister of the east. It has proved that the LTTEA?a??a??s opinion that in a de-merged north A?a??a??east the Tamils will have no representation is wrong. Under him, all the communities are working to build up a civil administration.

Pillayan says that his private secretary Krishnaswamy Nandagopan alias Ragu was not killed by the LTTE.

Clearly the killing was carried out by the LTTE. In the past two months, 17 TMVP cadres have been killed by the LTTE. They have tried to infiltrate the TMVP for some time, but have failed. He (Pillayan) made a mistake by saying the killing was not carried out by the LTTE. I regret that statement.

While Pillayan says powers to the province must be devolved under the PC system to the Eastern Provincial Council, you have been holding a different opinion.

We have a lot of work to do in the east. There has been a war in the east for the past 22 years. While Muslims in the area managed to send their representatives to parliament, the Tamil people have been largely without representation. But now we have a chance. We have the Provincial Council administration and our priority is development work. But police powers are not an urgent need. In the past too, the mistake we made was making the same demands over and over again. But now we have to do things differently. We must develop education, sports and entertainment.

Have you discussed the law and order situation in the east with the Government ?

I have spoken to the Defence Secretary and for now we have Deputy Inspector General of Police Shankar appointed as the co-ordinator for the three districts in the east. The Defence Secretary told me there are about 1000 police vacancies to be filled in the east and Tamil youth are needed to be recruited. I have already informed the people. We must now give priority to development.


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