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Tamils suspect India's hand in Karuna's revolt

Tamils suspect India's hand in Karuna's revolt

Tamils suspect the hand of India in the revolt of the LTTE's eastern commander, Col.Karuna.

While the LTTE's Kilinochchi-based leadership has only thrown hints about the "external hand", at the ground level, rumours mills are churning out theories and stories about an Indian hand in fomenting the trouble with the help of sections of the Sri Lankan polity and the armed forces.

The theory behind this suspicion is that Karuna could not have thought of carrying out a revolt of this magnitude, without firm assurances of sustained external assistance both financial and strategic.

Karuna makes contact with Chandrika

It has transpired that the renegade LTTE commander in the east, V. Muralitharan alias Karuna has made contact with the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) leadership long before he officially announced his decision to break away from the northern command.

Karuna's decision to withdraw from the northern command was officially announced on March 3, but The Sunday Leader learns that the UPFA and the beleaguered Karuna had been exchanging views since February 19.

It is also learned that the go between linking President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Karuna has been UPFA Colombo District candidate Ratna Gamage, who has been reportedly acting as messenger.

LTTE sources in the east confirmed that Ratna Gamage has been in constant touch with Karuna and had served as facilitator between Karuna and President Kumaratunga.

According to reliable information, Gamage has met Karuna on February 19, following his request.

It is also learned that Karuna, during the two hour discussion he had with Gamage expressed his desire to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with President Kumaratunga.

Gamage according to sources has reportedly informed former Matara District MP, Mangala Samaraweera about Karuna's decision, but sources close to Samaraweera said he had not conveyed this message either to President Kumaratunga or Information Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

Meanwhile, Karuna has also sent a message to Gamage inquiring about his request.

COLOMBO, March - Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers vowed on Wednesday to peacefully end a "temporary" split that endangers the island's peace process and said talks to end a 20-year civil war can still restart after next month's general election.

The Tigers, who expelled their eastern commander Karuna nearly two weeks ago for "acting traitorously to the Tamil people", also warned Sri Lankan military and political groups not to try to take advantage of the internal fight.

"We have our strategy to overcome the situation without armed violence and bloodshed. Karuna's rebellion is a temporary aberration, which will pass away in time," Anton Balasingham, the chief negotiator for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), said without elaborating on the plans.

The split shocked Sri Lanka amid an election campaign that is already being fought over how the government should pursue a peace bid with the LTTE to end the war that has killed 64,000.

Balasingham, in an interview with the Tamil Guardian newspaper, said the split would not undermine the peace process or the Tamil national struggle.

"The peace process will resume after the general elections between the LTTE and the new government elected by the Sinhala people with a mandate for peace and negotiated political settlement," he said.

Balasingham also warned military and political groups in Colombo about making contact with Karuna.

"We should let it be known to his contacts that they will cause irreparable damage to the peace process if they exploit Karuna's dissent," he said.

Efforts to restart peace talks that stalled last April were already in turmoil because of feuding between President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that led to a parliamentary election being called for April 2.

Balasingham also dismissed Karuna's accusation that Tiger's leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was preparing to return to war.

"I can assure you that the LTTE leadership is not making any preparations for war. We are seriously and sincerely committed to peace and peaceful means of resolving the ethnic conflict." he said.

© Scoop Media

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