Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP the chief arms procurer of the defeated LTTE outfit now leads a life with children affected in the conflict in the centre of Kilinochchi. He established the Chencholai children’s home in January this year to look after war affected children in the North.
In an interview with the Sunday Observer at the Chencholai Children’s home the soft spoken KP exchanged views about the situation in the North and the various attempts to make political issues of past incidents by Tamil politicians. Reiterating the fact that the ‘past is past’ and there was no need to dig the bitter past anymore, the people and politicians should work towards a better future for the country.
He also said that Tamil National Alliance(TNA) should keep their promises to the people as they were eagerly awaiting till their words were turned into action.
Following are excerpts of the interview
Q: There were attempts by some Members in the TNA and some elements among the Tamil community who are trying to glorify the LTTE leader as a freedom fighter and to commemorate his birthday creating an uneasy situation in the North. Do you think this is meaningful ?
A:People have the right to remember their loved ones, but at the same time if they are trying to make it a political issue that is unwante. They should remember their loved ones but it should not disturb the peaceful situation in the country.
They can remember them and follow tradition and hold religious rituals by attending temples and religious places. But making it a political issue is unnecessary.
Q: The Northern Provincial Council was set up recently and Members of the TNA were elected as the administrators. Do you think that the TNA can do a service to the Tamil people in the North with their policies?
A:Only two months have gone since they were elected to the Provincial Council. It is too early to comment on the progress of the TNA and their future activities. But the TNA cannot forget one thing. They gave promises to the people and they should try to fulfill those promises. Words are not enough for the people they should turn their words into action. People are waiting for it to happen. They have the responsibility to fulfill their obligations to the Tamil people.
Q: We see that the ideology of separatism is promoted by some elements of the Tamil community and members of the TNA and attempting to influence the people to disturb the peaceful situation in the country. How do you see this situation at a time when all Sri Lankans are doing their best to live in a peaceful country ?
A:The TNA is not talking anymore about separatism. They want to live in a united Sri Lanka and the people feel the same.
The point is that both sides have hardcore elements. They are working for political mileage. They have to work for the people and the country not just to gain political mileage. By promoting separatism we have lost many things in the past.
We have to think about a bright future for Sri Lanka and they should work towards a better future for the country.
Q: TNA MP Sritharan in his speech in Parliament tried to glorify the LTTE as freedom fighters and his statement caused an uneasy situation in the country. Do you think the LTTE could bring any sort of freedom to their people through their struggle ?
A:The past is past and we should not dig that bitter past. It was a bitter experience for the country. To some people they are heroes and freedom fighters and to others they are killers. We don’t need to dig the past since the LTTE is no more. We have to think of the future of the people.
Q: But some Western nations are trying to dig that bitter past and are asking the Government to investigate some alleged incidents. How do you see this situation ?
A:One thing I have to say is that Sri Lanka is an independent and sovereign nation.
Whatever the sovereign right Britain has got Sri Lanka has also got. At this juncture there are certain things we have to do ourselves.
We have to work towards fulfilling the recommendations in the LLRC report.
We have to speed up the reconciliation process and then we can say that we are a role model for the world from the way we recovered after thirty years of a war against terrorism by changing the country.
Here the point why western nations are commenting on our situation because on our side too we have to improve certain things.
Q: The people in the North lost more than 30 years in terms of development and other social activities due to the war situation. They have to regain what they have lost. Do you think that TNA through their policies can recapture the lost opportunities ?
A:They have to change their approach in developing the Northern province and should cooperate with the central government. In time, the Government also should support the Northern Provincial Council because it is a war affected area.
It is only through this friendly approach that we can fulfill the needs of the people. If they always have a negative approach there will be no point in people casting their votes for the TNA.
Q: What kind of hope do you have for the people in the North. Do you have any idea of entering politics. Many people thought that you would contest the election
A:My feeling is that I have to work for the country for the rest of my life specially for the war -affected and the children.
The first thing I chose to run these children homes was to give a better education for the children. It is a huge task. Because it is only through education that we can make good human beings.
Without proper education people lose every chance to become good human beings . The country cannot be developed without education. Without education we cannot achieve anything in life.
Q: Don’t you entertain any hope of entering politics ?
A:I don’t have any hope of entering politics. I chose to do a service to the people. I don’t think I can finish this service during my life time.
Q: What kind of changes does the Northern province needs in terms of development and politics ?
A:There are some burning issues the people living in the North face. The High Security Zones (HSZ) and land issue affect the people in the North. The war on terrorism is now over. Due to security concerns people have to resettle in other areas.
In the Northern province fishermen are badly affected. Indian fishermen move towards Sri Lankan waters and use banned nets for fishing. Due to the HSZ fishermen are facing problems as they don’t have a spot to anchor their fishing boats.
They are demanding the fishing harbours under HSZ to anchor boats.
They understand the security concerns but they have to win the people over. Four years after ending the war on terrorism people of the likes of british prime Minister David Cameron and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay visited the places where displaced civilians were living.
They just need their land. This is a sensitive issue, we have to sort it out positively. Except that there are some missing persons and we have to sort it out speedily. Another issue is the language barrier. President Mahinda Rajapaksa introduced the trilingual policy.
If they introduced this policy 50 years ago this country would not have experienced the war on terrorism. Now the President is trying to introduce this policy and the Bodu Bala Sena is saying that they don’t need to learn Tamil. Politics is one side and the mileage is one side but we have to think about the future. We have to work for the country.
Q: What is your candid opinion on this Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam established by the Tamil diaspora across the world. Do you think that there is any meaning having such a mechanism ?
A:The diaspora are like politicians. They cannot live in this country and are settled in other countries. They will continue withe their activities. We don’t need to worry about this situation. We are Sri Lankans. If we go on the right path no one will disturb us. The existence of such a body is worthless. When Cuba was liberated some anti Cubans living in America still say that Fidel Castro will finish and that Cuba will fall. But nothing happened.
Even the Burmese groups in Norway and some Thailand south rebel groups in Norway and in some other countries keep reiterating the same refrain. Now the trend is different.
They will pass time till we give them a space here. If we are on the right path they cannot influence us anymore.
Q: How do you see the Tamil Nadu attitude towards Sri Lanka in terms of the Tamil people in the North ?
A: The people in Tamil Nadu have historical, cultural, social and language links with Sri Lankan Tamils .
The majority havie a link with Bengal also. These people may have never even visited Sri Lanka and don’t know the reality and the ground situation in Sri Lanka. People there are acting to emotions. The Tamil Nadu politicians are playing on the emotions of the people. Unfortunately among the Tamil Nadu politicians, the Sri Lankan issue is gaining popularity. Sri Lanka is in the picture because elections are going to be held next year. They are taking this issue into their political platform for their own benefit. Not for the benefit of the Tamil people living in the North. The people are innocent and have never seen anything .
They think that the war on terrorism is going on. They are ignorant. This is a sad situation but this will not affect our country. They can act only within India. They cannot come here and do anything. We are independent and sovereign we should work like Sri Lankans and we will not be affected by their politics. (Sunday Observer)