Karuna embezzled funds, feared disciplinary action before split - Karikalan

[TamilNet, Saturday, 13 March 2004, 00:05 GMT]
Mr.Sivagnanam Karikalan, a senior leader of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam from the East who was close to the renegade former Eastern commander of the LTTE, Mr. Karuna, in an interview with the Australian Tamil Broadcasting Corporation (ATBC) Friday disclosed for the first time that the Batticaloa crisis was precipitated when LTTE leadership summoned Karuna to Vanni after discovering financial irregularities and receiving allegations of questionable conduct. Fearing disciplinary action Karuna defied Vanni command and took unilateral action to split, Karikalan said.

Karikalan spoke to the ATBC from Vanni detailing how Karuna, who earned the admiration of the Tamil people and the LTTE leader Pirapaharan for his military prowess, gradually drifted into taking actions in his self interest, that finally brought him into direct conflict with the LTTE leadership. Karuna was one of most trusted commanders and held in high esteem by leader Pirapaharan, Karikalan said.

Mr. Sivagnanam Karikalan, senior LTTE leader in Batticaloa (Library photo)
"Only recently Karuna started complaining about the step-motherly treatment the Batticaloa-Amparai region was receiving from Vanni leadership. He seemed to have already taken a decision to split when we realized that Karuna was taking actions that are inimical to the movement.

"Under the pretext of sending some of us for training, he used that space to make changes to the command hierarchy under him. He took control of finances, the meals section and appointed people loyal to him in key military positions.

"During this period a fighter discovered Karuna embezzling huge amounts of movement's funds. Although Karuna tried to discipline the fighter, he managed to escape to Vanni and informed the leadership of Karuna's financial improprieties. Karuna's driver, who also knew of the misuse of funds, died a week later. Although fever was claimed as the cause of his death, Batticaloa-Amparai commanders were shocked to learn later that he was poisoned .

"Karuna was further embarrassed by public knowledge of allegations related to his improper conduct.

Karikalan in Vanni
Mr. S. Karikalan (Libray photo)
"When the leadership in Vanni became aware of these violations, leader Pirapaharan summoned him to Vanni. Karuna, fearing reprimand and possible disciplinary action refused to go; instead he asked for an emissary be sent from Vanni to see him.

"Also Karuna sent his wife and children to Malaysia recently and told his commanders that LTTE leader was aware of where his family was and that he [Karuna] would not do anything without the leader's knowledge. We now realize the reason behind this planned move by Karuna.

"Tamil people in Batticaloa-Amparai are struggling to figure out why the renegade commander, who was very close to the LTTE leader could not raise his accusations directly with Pirapaharan, Karikalan said.

Mr. Karuna (Libray Photo)
"Karuna through his foreign visits had the opportunity to come into contact with foreign forces keen on subverting the Tamil National struggle. Through introductions to Karuna these elements had the means to assess the unique position Karuna had in the movement and military strength under his command. It is highly probable that these external forces, exploiting his selfish motives, bought him over," said Karikalan.

Karikalan also said that significant resources are needed to maintain the cadres and military equipment. This fact reinforces the view that a foreign force hostile to Tamil struggle, must have promised support, Karikalan added.

Karikalan said that certain segments of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) also appear to be collaborating with Karuna. Large troop movements within the Batticaloa-Amparai district of cadres loyal to Karuna cannot proceed without the support of the SLA, Karikalan alleged.


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