KP UNDER 24-HOUR SURVEILLANCE

A fine example of ‘expecting the unexpected’ occurred when Ceylon Today went to cover the Senchcholai Children’s Home in Iranaimadu, Kilinochchi, run by Selvarasa Pathmanathan/ Kumaran Pathmanathan or plain and simple ‘KP’ – the probable last man alive in the leadership level of the LTTE proper. Ceylon Today reached Senchcholai imagining that it would be one of those fun- filled children’s home and KP would be among them, after ‘being released’ by the former UPFA government, and that he is hale and hearty travelling around and ‘rich’ too. But it was not so!

BY SULOCHANA RAMIAH MOHAN

A fine example of ‘expecting the unexpected’ occurred when Ceylon Today went to cover the Senchcholai Children’s Home in Iranaimadu, Kilinochchi, run by Selvarasa Pathmanathan/ Kumaran Pathmanathan or plain and simple ‘KP’ – the probable last man alive in the leadership level of the LTTE proper. Ceylon Today reached Senchcholai imagining that it would be one of those fun- filled children’s home and KP would be among them, after ‘being released’ by the former UPFA government, and that he is hale and hearty travelling around and ‘rich’ too. But it was not so!

Kumaran-PathmanathanTo our utmost surprise we found the Senchcholai Home for Children at Thiruvaiyaru, is in the premises where the 57 Division Security Forces headquarters, Kilinochchi district, is located.
Passing the entrance of the Security Forces Headquarters, going about another 2km inside the sign board of Senchcholai Home is visible, with a bright red gate, which was opened for Ceylon Today. The premises were clean with plants and trees and we could see little girls and teenage girls walking about giggling and laughing. Amidst them… there were four security men in civvies, seated on plastic chairs under the mango tree, and one of them rushed to the gate puzzled.
On seeing the Ceylon Today van entering Senchcholai premises, the four security men frantically began walking all over the garden, also taking cover behind trees with their mobile phones conveying the message, perhaps of our ‘uninformed’ visit , to ‘someone outside’.

The four security men scurried about and seemed extremely ‘shocked’ as we stood astonished too. It took a while to realize – that they were KP’s security officers (after one of them confirmed politely). Later on, it came to light that there are around 30 security officers, guarding KP, 24 hours at his residence and at the Home where he visits daily.

“Today is the parents meeting day, and we are sorry to have kept you waiting”… a tall fair man in white linen shirt and dark grey slacks, walks towards us smiling all the while and shook our hands. He happened to be this famous KP and he did not look a man who was enjoying his post or job to the fullest. He did not make too much eye contact too. He looked pale and poker-faced. While KP came out from his office room, two of the security men rushed out and stood on either side of him.

“Let’s talk Mr. Pathmanathan”, CT ventured, and thought he would direct us to his office but he walked towards those young security personnel and sat among them. Two of the officers were seated by him and two were standing beside us.

“Don’t record anything,” one officer said when the writer attempted to switch on the recorder, while, ‘No photographs of KP please,” another warned. When Ceylon Today said that they came to cover the Senchcholai Home and to interview KP who runs it, the officer said, “Sorry, no permission for you to do that.”
KP Restrained
In the meantime, there were several incoming and outgoing calls from the security men’s mobile phones, while KP was giving a brief on Senchcholai. He was looking around and at the men who gave him ‘unpleasant stare’ for talking to the press.
Finally, KP’s mobile phone rang as expected, and it was an easy guess as to what questions would be fired at KP.
KP is diagnosed with high blood sugar, and is controlling it with insulin, he looked very tired, yet, he responded to the phone call politely. “Why can’t I speak to them? this is too much! All she is asking is about Senchcholai. Well, I too have my rights, or don’t I? I am running this home! Aren’t I?” and the phone conversation ended there.

KP was feeling very uncomfortable to continue the conversation after the interferences of the ‘voices from the other end of the phone’, forcing him to halt his activities and thus he became mum. In his mild apolitical conversation, he said that he has a daughter, 21 years old and his wife is in Thailand and he had lived there for 15 years.

He also revealed that his children are taken on field trips and recreation annually and they had visited Colombo to see the museum amongst other places in their own Senchcholai bus.
He was feeling very uncomfortable to respond to questions on Senchcholai as the four officials were staring at all of us all the time.

KP then requested us to continue the conversation with one of the well-wishers who was there, and he proceeded to the office to meet more parents who had come to visit him.
A little while later, KP appeared saying that lunch had been prepared and invited us to join him.
The four security men walked passed him and entered the dark green little cafeteria and stood there in attention. There was also one of his batch-mates of the Jaffna University who joined us for the meal.
KP was inquiring about some of his other batch-mates and recalled some funny incidents before he sat down to eat. The girls of the home also queued up for lunch picked their plates of rice, chicken curry, pork curry, greens and dhal, and took their seats. “Sundays are special and we all eat together’ KP said.

When asked as to why they serve pork for children, he said ‘these children need strength and pork is good’.
The dining hall had a huge banner with the portrayal of Appa (the children refer to him as such), and the children of the Home.
While the ‘invitees’ remained seated for lunch, KP who went to wash his hands was followed by the security. Breaking into conversation once more, the writer asked KP: “why are you being followed like this?” to which KP simply responded with just a smile. KP had his meals and then his staff offered bananas to all the guests.

No sooner coming out after the sumptuous lunch, KP was interacting with the parents once more. KP urged a mother of a teenage girl not to buy clothes for her but to deposit cash in the girl’s bank book. “Don’t waste money and spend on clothes all the time,” KP told one of the girls to whom her mother gifted a dress. The shy teenage girl replied to KP, “Appa, my mother gave me this and I like it.”

KP tried to be calm all the time but those four security men were hounding the place glued to his movements and what he was uttering. They were keenly watching the cameras and the audio recorder, the mobile phones that were in our hands.
The girls usually travel to the nearby school by bus, we were told the bus was parked outside the parapet wall of the Home. When the photographer tried to take a picture of the bus, the security guard who had been guarding the bus all the day, got permission from ‘that someone’ over the phone.

KP then

KP who is an economic graduate obtained from the University of Jaffna will be celebrating his 60th birthday tomorrow (April 6).
KP who is known to be the chief arms procurer of the LTTE, one of the most fearsome terrorist groups in the world, was considered to be the next senior man and successor to Prabhakaran. After Prabhakran’s death members of the LTTE were netted and in the process KP was arrested in Malaysia and brought to Sri Lanka blindfolded in August 2009. Although KP’s arrest came to be an event big enough after Prabhakran’s death, there was less exposure on what details he had shared with the then government.

The entire world knew KP had all details of the LTTE funds suspected to be in billions of rupees however, thus far, no details of LTTE wealth has been screened or exposed.

While the media highlighted the KP arrest charging him to be involved in ‘terrorism’ and that he was wanted by the Indian government too, however, the Rajapaksa Government was ‘silent’ over his arrest. The media reports also went about stating that KP was ‘released unusually’ on ‘humane grounds’ and was only ‘protected’ or given a ‘lease of life’ in a manner allowing him to run a non-governmental organization.
KP at the moment runs the North –Eastern Rehabilitation and Development Organization or the NERDO helping the people who were caught in the war ravaged northern peninsula.

KP now
Whether or not KP is a wanted man for ‘terrorism’ and involved in arms dealing for LTTE, having met him last week at Senchcholai clearly exposed that this man is trapped and under 24-hour surveillance. KP does not enjoy the freedom of speech or movement – a serious human rights violation.
For obvious reasons –the visit to Senchcholai Home was just another assignment. However, what was witnessed is a total violation of human rights where KP was not enjoying freedom of speech or movement. It is also revealed that KP lives about 3 km away from the Home – a ‘hideout’ where no one is allowed to visit him. KP is said to be living with nearly 15- 20 security men and on daily basis, he is driven to Senchcholai in the morning and driven back to his ‘hide out’ in the evening with heavy guard.

“There are more orphans and other children with needs who are approaching Senchcholai, but we have no facilities to accommodate any more children,” was KP’s explanation on collecting funds.

KP who is said to be one of the LTTE top-knotches, chief procurer of arms for the organization running a global network engaged in weapons procurement, logistics and money laundering operation, how can he be left high and dry with no funds to even run a Home properly is probably what everyone would think . But that is true. Why and by whom KP’s movement and speech are restricted is yet to be unearthed.

When Ceylon Today bade goodbye to the Senchcholai children, KP who was not allowed to even be captured in a photograph, by his strict security personnel, was polite enough to remove few of his photographs off the office bulletin and hand it over to us.