LTTE photos add to Vaiko ‘stripes’

The Sri Lankan Army on Monday released photographs and video footage — suspected to have been shot in 1989 — showing Tamil Nadu politicians.....

Written by Gopu Mohan | Chennai | Published:March 3, 2009 12:23 am

The Sri Lankan Army on Monday released photographs and video footage — suspected to have been shot in 1989 — showing Tamil Nadu politicians,including MDMK chief Vaiko,with LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran. Discovered at the Tiger satellite communication centre in Puthukudiruppu west on Sunday,the photographs,the Army said,show Vaiko in LTTE uniform,firing pistols with Prabhakaran and delivering “brain-washing lectures to the LTTE cadres”.

However,if Lanka hopes that the photographs will buttress its claims that the plans for a greater Tamil Eelam were already in place back then,Vaiko at least won’t be complaining. Having built his politics on the combined platform of Lankan Tamils and the LTTE,this is indeed no bad publicity for him.

“The photographs were taken in 1989,when Vaiko visited the LTTE-controlled areas of Sri Lanka. The visit had gained much publicity even then,though the taint of terror was absent then,” said a senior leader close to the MDMK leader.

Even the pictures are not new,especially to party cadres,who have seen them many times as an “advertisement” of their leader’s closeness to the LTTE.

V Gopalasamy,or Vaiko as he is popularly known,is among the most vocal supporters of the LTTE in Tamil Nadu,even serving out several stints in jail on account of this. Incidentally,even as the Lankan army was distributing the pictures “indicting” him,Vaiko was coming out of jail in a case relating to his showing black flags to visiting External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Speaking to reporters after his release,Vaiko rubbished the photos as “old”. “The Sri Lankan Government has an ulterior motive. Anyhow,I am proud of the photos. If I get an opportunity,I will again visit Wanni (where the photographs were taken),” he said.

Releasing the photographs in Colombo,the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry said: “Soldiers of Army 58 Division have found several recent photographs and video footage in a building earlier occupied by the LTTE,showing certain South Indian politicians in LTTE camps in Wanni… exposing an abominable conspiracy against Sri Lankan citizens.”

Three of the released photographs show a young Vaiko with Prabhakaran.

A protégé of DMK president M Karunanidhi,Vaiko was considered one of the most promising young leaders of the Dravidian movement. It was during this time that he went to Sri Lanka on a fishing boat to meet LTTE cadres and spent about a month with them. While he was reprimanded by the party as he kept it in the dark,Vaiko has described this period as the “happiest moment” of his life.

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