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March 26, 2000
The Rediff Interview/ Vaiko
'I am in contact with Prabhakaran'
What about K P S Gill going to Colombo to advise the government on security?
I met Gill recently. He said he was going to advise the Lankan army. He must speak for the rights and cause of Tamils.
Will the LTTE proclaim an Eelam if Jaffna falls into its hands?
No. Not immediately. The fall will only result in the restoration of the status quo ante of 1995. There are many stages for the final achievement of a full-fledged Tamil Eelam. But the fall of Jaffna will be a stepping stone and will mark the threshold of declaring an Eelam for Tamils.
Is the LTTE in contact with you?
Nobody is in touch with me.
Are politicians in Tamil Nadu divided on the Lankan crisis? You seem to be the only vocal supporter of the LTTE. Why are people like Chief Minister M Karunanidhi quiet?
Everybody has his own political stand and perceptions. They keep changing perceptions according to the times. Therefore, I don't want to comment on any politician in Tamil Nadu, including Karunanidhi.
What draws you so close to the LTTE, which is a banned terrorist organisation worldwide?
If you go deep into the cause of the problems, your heart will draw close the cause of fighting Tamils there. I am a Tamilian who lives for their rights and welfare, wherever they are in the world. My umbilical relationship with the Tamils and LTTE is so strong that I cannot remain a mute spectator. I am raising my voice because the Tamil ego, Tamil rights and Tamil life are being hurt and destroyed. I support the LTTE as it is the only organisation, which has steadfastly fought the persecution of Tamils for five decades.
How can India mediate between the Lankan government and a banned organisation like the LTTE?
I did not use the word mediate. Only on the question of evacuation, I said India can facilitate it on certain conditions. I do not believe that India should mediate in the crisis.
You did not want the Vajpayee government to ban the LTTE again on May 14. Are you unhappy that the government decided to ban the LTTE again?
Not at all. It is a very complex question. Vajpayee is heading a coalition government. He has to honour the majority and that is why he banned the LTTE. The ban should have been lifted so that India could effectively mediate in Sri Lanka. But that does not mean that I am unhappy. Policies pursued by the Congress governments were of betrayal against the Tamils. The Vajpayee government does not betray.
You are an LTTE symphathiser and an Eelam supporter. At the same time, you are a coalition partner. Don't you find yourself in a very contradictory and confusing situation politically?
I am 100 per cent a supporter of LTTE and Eelam. But there is no contradiction and confusion for Vaiko the politician, especially on the question of support to the LTTE. Vajpayee is following a commendable foreign policy. Every political party has its ideologies and policies. But it is a democracy and ours is a coalition government.
The DMK government is said to be turning away Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka.
I do not believe these stories. There are powerful vested interests planting stories in leading newspapers as if they have received them from highly authoritative official sources. They are planting stories to create bitterness between rebels, innocent Tamils and the Government of India. They want to play the same trick that Jayawardene played and which Chandrika is now playing.
In three weeks, Sri Lankan ministers and defence officials have been visiting India. Have they contacted you?
No. They are visiting India because the Lanka government's morale is very low. It is a publicity exercise. But it is funny to see them running here and there in the country.
Has the Norwegian mission contacted you?
No. But Norway is in touch with top LTTE leaders.
If Vajpayee says: 'Mr Vaiko, why don't you also help the government mediate with the LTTE', wont you agree?
If Vajpayee says so, I will be the first person to say a big YES. But that will not arise. I am a small man.
When was the last time you met Prabhakaran?
I have met him countless times. He has come to my house and had food with me on many occasions. I last met him in March 1989. I was then with him in the thick jungles and bunkers in Jaffna when the IPKF and Lankan forces attacked the LTTE. I was with Prabhakaran when the war was raging. I was his friend, his companion. They were the best days of life. They were wonderful days.
What was your most memorable experience with Prabhakaran?
I have many fond memories. But I am preserving them for my biography. I will tell them to the world. He is a great, good friend. He is a legend and that is why thousands of Tamil boys and girls lay down their lives at his call.
After 1989, you have not met him and you have not been in contact.
I have not met him since then. But I am in contact with him.
Are you also in touch with Prabhakaran's parents in Thiruchilapalli?
Yes. They came for the marriages of my son and daughter. I met them last month as Prabhakaran's mother is very ill.
Prabhakaran's father is said to be against his son.
It is nonsense. How can a father whose son is adored by millions of Tamils despise him? Like any father, he is also proud of his son.
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