A new factional war is threatening to erupt in the East as former Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) commander Pillayan issued a final warning to Karuna Amman to leave the outfit or face the ignominy of being removed by force.
The warning comes as repeated attempts to reconcile the factional dispute between Pillayan and Karuna failed following allegations that Karuna continued to misuse TMVP funds and placed some of his enemies under house arrest as the support base for Pillayan continued to grow.
A top TMVP source, speaking to the Daily Mirror on the condition of anonymity, said the government military was also unable to takes sides as it required the support of Pillayan to retake Thoppigala in the East and Karuna to capture Elephant Pass in the North.
According to the source Pillayan was instrumental in providing ground intelligence to the military for the successful Eastern operations but is not familiar with the terrain in the North as much as Karuna who will be useful as the military makes attempts to wipe out the LTTE from Elephant Pass.
The Daily Mirror also learns that several top aides of Pillayan and Karuna, including the official spokesman for the TMVP Azad Moulana, had fled the country once again as the animosity between the two sides began to flare up and cadres were being forced to decide who they would offer their allegiance to.
Of the 1200 TMVP cadre base, 800 are now said to be in Trincomalee supporting Pillayan, which includes Thuyavan, Markan, Jeyam, Seelan and Ajith, while 400 are siding with Karuna Amman including Mangalan Master, Bharathi, Thileepan and Sinnathambi.
A meeting held recently to reconcile the two sides had reportedly failed, despite Moulana saying otherwise to the media, and according to the source Karuna had used the opportunity to target several Pillayan associates including former spokesman Thuyavan who narrowly escaped death.
A release issued by the Colombo office of the TMVP following a recent central committee meeting further added light to the continuing split as it was announced that Karuna had been reappointed TMVP leader and Mangalan Master as commander, replacing the position held by Pillayan.
`Several Pillayan supporters including some female cadres are now under house arrest in Ampara and Batticaloa. The TMVP is in disarray. Amman has started killing some of Pillayan`s cadres and Pillayan has now decided to take control of Karuna camps,` the TMVP source told the Daily Mirror.
The split initially erupted as allegations were levelled against Karuna Amman saying that he began to divert some Rs. four million of the TMVP funds to his family who are overseas despite the organisation only agreeing to allocate Rs. 1.5 million. According to the source, the TMVP had a monthly income of Rs. 160 million out of which Rs. 80 million was spent and the balance saved for future needs. However Karuna is learnt to have recently placed his close aide Iniya Bharathi in charge of the funds and allegedly swindled the money.
An angry Pillayan questioned the move, which resulted in the split. The source further revealed that Karuna was now in the process of strengthening his base by abducting and recruiting adults and underage children.