A trusted lieutenant who turned into a ‘mole’

It is now known that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) executed Mahattaya, the organisation’s deputy leader, in the mid-1990s on the charge of being an agent of Indian intelligence.

A compilation of documents from the LTTE’s political wing published now says the dreaded militant group believed that it had got conclusive proof against him only after he was left out of the charge-sheet in India in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, filed in 1992.

The documents suggest Mahattaya, whose real name was Gopalasamy Mahendraraja, was accused by the LTTE leadership of not only tipping off Indian security agencies about the whereabouts of a ship carrying its front-ranking leader Sathasivam Krishnakumar, alias Kittu, in early 1993, but also hatching a plot to kill the supreme leader V. Prabakaran.

The documents, now part of the book published by VOC Noolagam, say it was intelligence wing leader Pottu Amman who foiled the alleged attempt to assassinate Prabakaran. They provide a narrative that portrays Mahattaya as a man who was envious of Kittu hogging the limelight in the media and later, one who harboured dark designs to eliminate the leadership and take over the organisation.

Under the LTTE intelligence scanner for long, it was his non-inclusion in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case charge-sheet that confirmed Pottu Amman’s doubts about Mahattaya, the documents claim.

Pottu Amman had grown suspicious of Mahattaya immediately after Kittu lost a leg in a grenade attack in March 1987. “The area did not come under any attack from the Sri Lankan Army. Rival groups were also totally inactive. Then who would have been responsible for the blast?” asks one of the documents.

Pottu Amman was also closely monitoring the “special relationship” between Mahattaya and Indian intelligence during the presence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka and his subsequent proximity to the late president Ranasinghe Premadasa.

A time-bomb under bed

Kittu’s arrival in Jaffna was a closely guarded secret and only top leaders were aware of it. Who leaked it to the Indian intelligence agencies? This was a question that bothered Pottu Amman, who waited for further evidence. Mahattaya did not attend Kittu’s funeral.

The political wing statements suggest that the LTTE interrogated many Mahattaya supporters, including cadre who escaped from custody in India during this period.

Barring Mahattaya, all others admitted to their role in their statements, the documents claim. They had been promised money and India’s support if the conspiracy succeeded. A bodyguard of Prabakaran lodged in an Indian prison was released and given special training. As per Mahattaya’s plan, the assassin should plant a time-bomb in Prabakaran’s bed. The submissions of all those arrested were compiled as a document. Meetings were organised to explain the plot to LTTE cadre.

Adele Balasingham, the Australian wife of Anton Balasingham, says in her book that she and others were shocked when Mahattaya and his close associates were rounded up in Manippay. “Prabakaran visited our home and explained the Indian intelligence’s conspiracy to eliminate him and to make Mahattaya as the leader of the organisation. It had happened in 1993 and he told us that it needed further investigation,” she wrote.

Mahattaya and his associates were executed on December 28, 1994. (The Hindu)

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