| by Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe
Sources close to Sri Lanka Marxist People’s Liberation Front (JVP) dissidents say that the wife and children of JVP dissident faction leader Premakumar Gunarathnam was detained and lengthily questioned at Katunayaka airport.
Police media spokesman Ajith Rohana also said that an Australian citizen woman and two children were detained at airport for questioning.
Premakumar’s wife, Champa Somarathna, is a doctor by profession and she is a Sinhala national migrant to Australia. Along with the two children, she was leaving Sri Lanka, where they spent their year-end vacation, when they were detained. They were to take a flight to Australia via Singapore.
Gunarathnam is suspected of violating immigration and emigration regulations through the use of forged passports.
He is suspected for the use of forged identity even to migrate to Australia.
Elusive Gunarathnam leads the JVP dissident faction that has organized themselves as Movement for People’s Struggles.
JVP did not involve in violence openly after the post-1989 re-organizing. Gunarathnam was a second tier leader of 1989 insurrection and he was arrested and later released by military.
He was able to legalize his existence easily when he was in JVP’s de facto politburo as one of the senior most leaders during the period the party was in alliance with government. He could be simply appointed to the parliament through the national list when JVP had around 40 parliamentary seats most of which were represented by incapable persons.
However, he opted to remain away from public sphere although he was known by almost all of the party organizing body. Being an ethnic Tamil who is not fluent in his mother tongue, he used the name Gemunu one time, a selection of a name of a king of the island’s history who is considered a symbol of the anti-Tamil arch Sinhala nationalism.
The way the JVP explains the reasons for his being underground is that the party will need such activists in time of a suppression. Yet, the presence of Premakumar was not a secret to the intelligence services of the government. JVP ushered this secret behaviour to keep up the morale of the lower level cadres who had sacrificed their lives for a dream of socialism. Premakumar’s secret existence was a gullible guarantee to the hardcore cadres that the party would not give up the struggle for socialism although it was in coalitions with the capitalist governments which the party leaders explained as political strategies on the way to achieve socialism.
Gunarathnam led a middle class private life unlike many other JVP full timers. His wife is a medical officer by profession. Gunarathnam was an engineering student of Peradeniya university when he joined the armed struggle of JVP. He never completed the degree and remained as a full time activist of the JVP. His children learnt in elite schools. The family then opted to seek green pastures of developed west, a common dream of the Sri Lankan middle class. With support of the JVP sympathizers, he easily got the migration arranged and settled in Australia perhaps using a forged identity.
However, he maintained a cross party group from Down Under and pushed JVP to some extremist decisions like rejecting to join the government after working hard for the victory of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Party logic behind these two polar decisions is incomprehensible.
The group showed some sympathy towards the minority Tamils though they extended hearty support to the war against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) in which many thousands of similar youth of the Tamil community perished. It is yet unclear if the JVP dissidents led by him have changed their stance of vehemently opposing the power devolution.
He was asked to come to Sri Lanka by his group as the party hierarchy was in a leadership battle and on the verge of split. He has obliged to the request of the party cadres and now it is believed he is in Sri Lanka under cover. Police is after him but without much determination to arrest him. It appears his movements are under surveillance. He can be brought to books for violating immigration and emigration regulations. Police appears investigating any links of the JVP dissidents with the LTTE, which the writer thinks a none-entity.
It is suspected his present opponents who were his affectionate proponents earlier silently passed information regarding his forged identity to the intelligence wings. The guilt of betraying their own past comrade to the government was attempted to pass to the accounts of breakaway JVP politburo members like Wimal Weerawansa and Nandana Gunathilaka. However, it can be the mainstream JVP hierarchy itself who passed the information to the spies.
Final outcome is the scattering of an ambitious middle class family with close relationship. The two kids living in a different land lost the needy association a loving father. Police doubt, Champa Somarathna arrived in Sri Lanka for a brief family reunion. Their questioning of the wife of Premakumar at the airport proves partial inefficiency of the intelligence wings or perhaps the lack of coordination of state intelligence.They could have followed the woman and arrested Gunarathnam if she met him. Instead, they created a news.
The suspicion of the JVP dissidents that their leader’s life is in danger will be further deep-root with this.
However, Premakumar Gunarathnam is not a man like Kumaran Pathmanathan a.k.a. KP. The latter was a terrorist leader who engaged in subversive activities like military procurement for the LTTE. There is no evidence that Premakumar Gunarathnam has engaged in any kind of subversive activities.
His secret existence is partly a JVP tactic marketed to the members to maintain their commitment to party and partly a move of Premakumar himself backed by a bizarre mentality that is known only to the persons that are in this kind of politics.