Former LTTE arms procurer Kumaran Pathmanathan also known as KP said that reducing the army presence in the war-hit areas in the country and introducing civil administration would help improve the living conditions of the people there.
“The army’s presence enhances safety at one level, but also intimidates people,” he told the Hindu newspaper in an interview.
He also said that in the 1970s, Tamil politicians brainwashed youngsters like him into joining the Tamil cause, he says the recent student protests in Tamil Nadu brought back those memories.
“Students should be left to study. Politicians there [TN] make it an emotional issue. They cannot do anything on their own for us, so they have to work with the Centre in India and help Sri Lanka.” Terming the attack on Buddhists monks in India “uncivil” and “inhuman”, he says such responses will only do more damage than good to the Sri Lankan Tamils. KP is not short of suggestions on the means to achieve peace and reconciliation: “The army’s presence enhances safety at one level, but also intimidates people.”
Attributing the violence — spurred by the arms struggle — to the lack of adequate education in the country, he says: “The last 30 years of war have pushed us educationally further behind.”
“If only I had taken education more seriously, I would have been able to evaluate situations better,” he says, leaning backward in his chair, at his office in Senchcholai Children Care Home –Kilinochchi.
Running this home for war-affected children, he talks only about education. The home is located near an army camp now, fuelling speculation about his proximity to the government. It has a few rooms, dormitories and an assembly hall.
Funding, says KP, comes from the Tamil diaspora.
Pausing for a few seconds, he fixes his gaze on a group of children playing about five metres away from where we are seated.
“Many of them lost their parents during the war, and some of them are injured or disabled. If they have to come out of this trauma, education is the only means and that is my vision now.”
As many as 300 children stay at the home and go to a nearby school. The home offers additional tuitions in the evening to help children who had dropped out of school during the war.
“This is a community that had given up all hope over the years. Reviving that hope and instilling confidence is the greatest challenge at the moment,” he says
“Tamil politicians are obsessed with Jaffna and hardly engage with the people of the Vanni who are the real victims.”