Among the civilians who fled the LTTE-held no fire zone yesterday were the slain deputy leader of the LTTE Mahattaya`s widow and children. Their escape reminds us of the brutal execution of Mahattaya (nom de guerre of Gopalasamy Mahendraraja), which sheds light on Prabhakaran`s fratricidal killings to ward off threats and challenges to his leadership.
Mahattaya, a baby faced homicidal maniac just like his chum Prabhakaran, rose through the ranks thanks to his sheer brutality having joined the LTTE in 1978 as a 22-year old. It is believed that the assassination of TULF Leader A. Amirthalingam was planned and executed at his behest and that the assassin was one of his bodyguards. He was also responsible for felling hundreds, if not, thousands of rivals of the LTTE including the members of the pro-Indian Tamil National Army. His lust for bloodletting brought him closer to Prabhakaran and he went on to become the LTTE`s deputy leader. He became the President of the People`s Front of Liberation Tigers (PFLT), which the LTTE formed during its talks with the Premadasa government in the late 1980s.
The ever growing popularity of Mahattaya within the LTTE naturally was not to Prabhakaran`s liking. After the LTTE resumed hostilities in 1990 by mowing down 600 policemen who had surrendered to the terrorists on the orders of President Premadasa, who desperately tried to salvage a collapsing truce, a rift between Mahattaya and Prabhakaran emerged and with the passage of time it developed into a personality clash. Prabhakaran, true to form, launched a vilification campaign against his one-time buddy and had a black picture painted of him.
Prabhakaran accused Mahattaya of working for the Indian Intelligence (RAW) as well as President Premadasa, whom he had known very intimately. President Premadasa used to call Mahattaya malli (younger brother) and was cherishing the delusion that he would be able to wean the Tigers from their violence and bring them to the democratic mainstream. Prabhakaran also insisted Mahattaya had been contracted by the Indians to kill him, take over the LTTE leadership and rule an autonomous North and East Province with full Indian backing. Having thus set the stage for obviating a threat to his leadership, Prabhakaran had Mahattaya and others considered loyal to him arrested and incarcerated. In December 1994, while the LTTE was honeymooning with the Chandrika Kumaratunga government, Mahattaya and 257 others were lined up and shot dead on a coconut estate near Chavakachcheri. Prabhakaran had no problem with seeing his friend`s blood unlike Genghis Khan, who, when compelled to get rid of a childhood friend, refused to see the victim`s blood he ordered that his friend be put into a gunny bag and kicked to death!
Prabhakaran now crying out for help has a history of sacrificing friends and foes alike. When he was trapped in Vadamarachchi with the army zeroing in on him, in 1987, the then Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi had him flown to safety. Prabhakaran showed his gratitude four years later by having Rajiv blown to smithereens. President Premadasa saved him from the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) by giving him shelter, arms, ammunition, money and even cement and steel for building bunkers. In return President Premadasa received a human bomb in 1993. In 1994, President Chandrika Kumaratunga bailed out Prabhakaran reeling from a successful military campaign under President D. B. Wijetunga. In 1999, Prabhakaran sent a `child of fire` to greet her. She narrowly escaped death.
What Prabhakaran has demonstrated to the world through such acts of terrorism is that he has no friends. He is a megalomaniac of the first order with a permanent goal to pursue and a massive ego to nurse. Those who are trying to save him with a view to using him to further their interests are making a terrible mistake. They ought to realise that no one is safe from that homicidal maniac. The time has come for him to pay for his sins.