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Home > Tamil National ForumSelected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha > The first and the fibbing biography on the LTTE Leader

Selected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha

The first and the fibbing
biography on the LTTE Leader

[see also Book Note at Tamil Nation Library]

Book Review: Inside an Elusive Mind Prabhakaran � The First Profile of the World�s Most Ruthless Guerrilla Leader, by M.R.Narayan Swamy, Konark Publishers Pvt.Ltd, Delhi, 2003, 290 pages. Indian rupees 400. US$ 7.00.

In 1989, a handful of editors working at the editorial desk of TV Guide magazine in America produced a montage cover photo for their highly circulating magazine. It carried the head of Oprah Winfrey and the body of Ann Margaret. It was a bizarre production, which elicited humor from the night TV shows including that of Johnny Carson�s Tonight Show, partly because Oprah is a Black and Ann is a Nordic blonde. The book in review, Inside an Elusive Mind Prabhakaran, more or less is the pig-headed Indian version of that Oprah Winfrey �head� and Ann Margaret �body� production. Here, the �head� is that of M.R.Narayan Swamy and the �body� belongs to India�s infamous institution with the acronym RAW. This indeed is a shame.

Narayan Swamy was the author of a well written Tigers of Lanka: From Boys to Guerrillas book, which appeared in 1994. The currently touted �first biography� on Prabhakaran is nothing but a cut and paste hodge-podge incorporating materials which had appeared in (1) his own Tigers of Lanka book, (2) Adele Balasingham�s autobiography The Will to Freedom, and (3) routine news releases and commentaries handed out by the RAW to Indian journalists.

My contention that this book�s body belongs to RAW is amply proven by

(a) quite a number of favorable references to RAW which occur in the text, and
(b) omissions �and glossing over - on unfavorable episodes in which RAW functionaries played notable roles.

To grasp the omissions and glossing over of RAW�s duplicity the author has performed, one should read Narayan Swamy�s previous book, Tigers of Lanka. Here are a few favorable samplings on RAW in the text of this Pirabhakaran biography, trying to cover its bottoms after leading Rajiv Gandhi�s government into a quagmire in Eelam territory. Kindly check the phrases and sentences in Narayan Swamy�s script, which I have emphasized with italics.

�The Indian army chief boasted to Prime Minister Gandhi that LTTE would be crippled in 72 hours if it engaged in any misadventure with the Indian troops. RAW had a different assessment though some of its officials also thought that Prabhakaran would not be able to hold out for too long.� (p.186). 

�Ahead of the local elections, the Indian government, acting through RAW, opened clandestine contacts with the LTTE, to persuade it to give up militancy but in vain. A RAW emissary even went to meet Prabhakaran at Base One Four. Indian troops, not abreast with the secret parleys, shot dead the emissary.� (p.205) 

�LTTE blamed the Indian intelligence agency RAW for this misinformation. Mahattaya, the story went, had shot at Prabhakaran in an attempt to grab the reins of the LTTE. Soon, this story too died down.� (p.242) 

�Kittu reportedly told RAW after Gandhi was killed that the LTTE had no hand in the brutal assassination. The denial was initially believed. No intelligence agency likes double-crossers. The RAW, it seemed, was waiting to hit back.� (pp.244-245).

To provide additional proof for my conjecture that this shoddy Pirabhakaran biography by Narayan Swamy is a sort of atonement for the faux pas he performed to the RAW mandarins in his previous book Tigers of Lanka, I submit the following details. In the Preface to his 1994 book, Narayan Swamy wrote the following:

�A word about India�s covert role. I have deliberately chosen not to name any official or agent of the Research and Analysis Wing. Yet I do feel that RAW�s highly contentious role in Sri Lanka needs to be scrutinised, if only to ensure that India never again gets suckered into a quagmire like it did in Sri Lanka��

Having written this in the Preface, Narayan Swamy did in fact name the RAW officer, a hen-pecked husband who got caught in a honey pot trap, in the text. In page 328 of the text, the following information appeared:

�The officer who headed the RAW in Tamil Nadu then was K.V.Unnikrishnan,who was arrested in 1987 and jailed on charges of being a CIA agent. Was it a mere coincidence that the TELO was destroyed when the RAW�s Sri Lanka operations were controlled by an alleged CIA agent? Was it just a matter of chance that the pro-India EPRLF also met a similar fate at the hands of the LTTE during this period? EPRLF sources say their former leader, Pathmanabha, also begged RAW to force the LTTE to stop its attacks. Those appeals also evoked no response.�

In the subsequent page of his 1994 book, Narayan Swamy also exposed one of RAW�s sinister designs. To quote,

�TELO, PLOT and EPRLF sources allege that RAW officials repeatedly asked them to hit at civilian (read Sinhalese) targets in Sri Lanka to make Jayewardene buckle. The PLOT�s Dharmalingam Siddharthan says one reason why the group leader, Uma Maheswaran, fell out of favour was because he refused to kill innocent Sinhalese. �As long as the south (of Sri Lanka) remains quiet, no pressure can be brought upon Jayewardene�, was apparently a common refrain from RAW agents��

Strangely, these details have been deleted in Narayan Swamy�s this Pirabhakaran�s biography. How come? Same author, same theme, same period covered, and same publisher; but between 1994 and 2003, unpalatable details about RAW�s activities in Sri Lankan affairs have vanished like Stalin era erasing of unwanted public records.

Few more erasings I found out when reading simultaneously the texts of Tigers of Lanka and this biography Inside an Elusive Mind. The 1994 book names the assassin of TULF leader Amirthalingam as �LTTE�s Visu (a right hand of Mahattaya)� in page 222 and as �Suddenly, Visu, one of the gunmen who was earlier based in Madras, whipped out a pistol and shot Amirthalingam through the head. He then shot a stunned Yogeshwaran.� in page 306.

The book in review, had erased the name of Amirthalingam�s assassin with a glib, unnamed, �three LTTE men�. Why this deletion? Is it to protect the links the assassins of Amirthalingam and Yogeswaran had with the RAW�s manipulators? Why Narayan Swamy had shied away to pry open the RAW�s duplicity of printing the premature obituary of Pirabhakaran in the Hindu newspaper, immediately following the assassinations of Amirthalingam and Yogeswaran? Even the title of this biography, Inside an Elusive Mind, seems to be focused on what the RAW officials think about Pirabhakaran. For Eelam Tamils who had stood by the LTTE leader since 1983, Pirabhakaran�s thinking is hardly elusive.

Velupillai Pirabhakaran is a military and political leader worthy for a biography material. Who else can match his achievements in the past two decades in establishing a legitimate, active, albeit small, Tamil army which fought overt wars with two national armies and covert wars with four intelligence agencies belonging to Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Israel? In this, he is on par with George Washington and Mao Ze Dong. Like how Mahatma Gandhi medicated the psyche of Indian peasants in colonial India, Pirabhakaran thrashed the fear mentality which encapsulated the Eelam Tamil psyche two decades ago.

The deeds of his Tamil contemporaries (such as Neelan Tiruchelvam, Lakshman Kadirgamar, Douglas Devananda and V.Anandasangari) in Sri Lanka who have been touted and propelled as the Tamil �leaders� by the RAW and their pimps in the journalist trade are merely mole hills compared to Pirabhakaran�s mountainous record. But this Narayan Swamy�s book is certainly not the one which does merit to Pirabhakaran and LTTE.

So, why this biography appeared this year? First read this humorous anecdote told by a student of mine at the university two years ago. This intelligent woman student informed me about a Japanese belief; which is, if one repeats her wish five times completely while observing the shooting star falling in the sky during meteor showers, that wish may come true. I asked her what did she wish for. She told me, she chanted �kane-kane-kane-kane-kane�, because that�s what she was badly needing and urgently so. �Kane� in Japanese has two meanings; bell and money. Her interest was not in the bell, but in money. Since the wish had to be completed five times before the shooting star falls from the visible range in the sky, she could utter only �kane-kane-kane-kane-kane�. We had a good laugh on her ingenuous thinking.

It is transparent that the publishers of this first and fibbing biography of Pirabhakaran also wished for money at the expense of merit and balance in a biography. I reiterate the words I wrote not so long ago, castigating this type of book: �History writing is tough, even for professionals who receive years of training under the guidance of academic peers. But in contemporary Sri Lanka and India, Pirabhakaran�s actions had turned quite a number of semi-literate professionals and professional cross-dressers into �authentic� or near-authentic historians. Third degree mathematicians have become fourth grade historians. Slimy journalists have turned into slick historians. Gossip-raking diplomats have found a route to historians� lounge by garbing themselves as seers who can read Pirabhakaran�s mind.� [see, Pirabhakaran Phenomenon, part 43]

As a long-term Pirabhakaran watcher, my word is that those who want to learn something truthful about Pirabhakaran should purchase Adele Balasingham�s autobiography The Will to Freedom and ignore this sloppy production from New Delhi. Adele�s book is original, but this fibbing biography by Narayan Swamy is a third grade copy of the original.


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