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Karunanidhi pays homage to slain LTTE leader


Chennai : Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi Saturday paid homage to a Tamil Tiger leader killed in Sri Lanka a day earlier, suggesting his death could spur the battle for “Tamil rights”.

In a poem released by the state government, Karunanidhi described S.P. Thamilchelvan as “a general” who had a “heart that would render the opposition to ashes”.

Thamilchelvan, who headed the political wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and was considered close to LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, was popularly known as “Selva”.

He was killed when the Sri Lankan Air Force bombed a rebel base in Kilinochchi in the island’s north early Friday. The LTTE posthumously promoted Thamilchelvan to the rank of a “brigadier”.

Five senior LTTE military cadres also died in the strike.

In his poem, written in a manner as if Karunanidhi was addressing it to Thamilchelvan, the chief minister said by dying “(you) turned yourself into fertiliser, for the sake of the struggle for (Tamil) rights”.

A prolific writer, Karunanidhi added in his poem:

The ‘Utham Purush’ that you are,
Your life is not extinguishable nor
Would you let your brethren die;
Selva, you have carved a place for yourself
In every Tamil habitat and heart;
Where have you gone?

Karunanidhi has enjoyed a love-hate relationship with the LTTE, which once had military and political camps in Tamil Nadu.

Karunanidhi began to distance himself from the LTTE after the group assassinated former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi near here in May 1991.