Colombo, February 13: In an apparent bid to fish in the troubled waters of Sri Lanka, pro-Tamil Tiger forces in Tamil Nadu and the Diaspora, have come out with the claim that Tiger Supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, who was killed by Sri Lankan troops in 2009, is alive and will soon announce his plans for the Tamil people.
The Tamil National Movement leader and hardcore supporter of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Pazha Nedumaran, said at the Mullivaikkal Mutram in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu on Monday, that given the current changes in the international situation and in Sri Lanka, where the majority Sinhalese have thrown out the Rajapaksas, it would be appropriate to announce that LTTE leader Prabhakaran is alive and that he will soon reveal his plans for the redemption of the Tamil people.
Nedumaran said that he is delighted to declare that ‘Thamizh Desiya Thalaivar’ (Tamil National Leader) Prabhakaran is well, thereby putting an end to rumors and claims about his death. The senior Tamil nationalist politician urged the people of Tamil Eelam and Tamils across the world to extend their support to Prabhakaran.
Using China Factor to Tout LTTE Revival
Bringing China into the narrative, Nedumaran said that to the detriment of India, China has acquired a firm foothold in Sri Lanka and is posing a threat to India in the Indian Ocean. In this context, Nedumaran recalled that when the LTTE was strong in Sri Lanka, it did not allow any international force inimical to India to enter the Sri Lankan arena, nor did it have any relations with such anti-Indian forces. In the current context when China is trying to establish its hegemony in Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean, the Indian government should take steps to stop it, Nedumaran said, thereby indirectly seeking India’s support for a resurrected LTTE.
Nedumaran urged the Tamil Nadu government, all political parties in Tamil Nadu, and the people of Tamil Nadu to express their support to the LTTE leader Prabhakaran at this “crucial juncture.”
The Hindu reported that Nedumaran declined to answer queries seeking proof of his claim that the LTTE leader is still alive. He would not go beyond asserting that his group is in “touch with the LTTE leader.”
Fishing in Troubled Sri Lankan Waters
It appears that pro-LTTE fringe elements in Tamil Nadu, in combination with like-minded elements in the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in the West, are fishing in the troubled waters of Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean region. The revival of the Prabhakaran cult could help rally Sri Lankan Tamils whose long-standing problems have not been solved despite both peaceful and armed struggles since Sri Lanka’s independence in 1948.
The Tamils’ demand for autonomy or devolution of power is 75 years old and is today nowhere near being met. Even devolution under the mild 13 th. Constitutional Amendment (13A) has not been conceded fully. It appears that current efforts by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to fully implement the 13A will be met with stiff resistance from Sinhalese nationalists led by the Buddhist clergy.
Issues like those of missing persons, imprisonment for long periods due to pending cases, the non-return of 60,000 acres of lands seized from the Tamils during the war still rankle in Tamil minds. Meanwhile, successive governments have been neglecting the economic development of the people in the Tamil areas, forcing them to plan migration by hook or by crook.
Like hardcore supporters of charismatic or cult leaders everywhere, diehard supporters of the LTTE and its Supremo, and those inclined to follow them, could well believe that their leader is not dead or cannot die, and that he will definitely come back and deliver them.
The other danger that is lurking in the background, is that anarchist groups among the majority Sinhalese, who came to the surface in the violent movement against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his successor Ranil Wickremesinghe, might opportunistically support Nedumaran’s claims for their own political gain in South Sri Lanka.
Any leeway given to the gambit of Nedumaran and his backers will be prejudicial to India-Sri Lanka relations which were redeemed thanks to India’s timely and generous help to Sri Lanka during the pandemic and the financial crisis that followed.