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Despite setback LTTE will keep fighting, claims Tamil MP


New Delhi : A Tamil MP from Sri Lanka asserted Saturday that the Tamil Tigers would never give up even after losing a key town and retreating into their last remaining fortress Mullaitivu.

M.K. Shivaji Lingam admitted, however, that the fall of Kilinochchi was “indeed a setback” but he said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) would keep fighting a la Vietnam.

“And even if the LTTE were to lose Mullaitivu also, then too they will continue their struggle,” Shivaji Lingam said in a telephonic interview from Chennai where he is now based.

Shivaji Lingam is one of 22 members of the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the single largest Tamil bloc in the 225-strong Sri Lankan parliament.

On Friday, the military captured the northern Sri Lankan town of Kilinochchi, which had served as the political hub and administrative capital of the LTTE. The Tigers had held the town for a decade.

The seizure of the strategically located Kilinochchi triggered celebrations across much of Sri Lanka. A gloating President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the
Tigers were “fully and finally defeated” and asked them to “lay down their arms and surrender”.

Shivaji Lingam, who has known LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran from their younger days, insisted that the Tigers would never do that.

“The president has mocked at the LTTE and asked it to surrender. The president forgets this is a national war. There is absolutely no question of the LTTE giving it up.

“Even if the LTTE agrees to give up its weapons, the Tamil people will not agree to that. The fight will go on like it happened in Vietnam.”

The LTTE, which once controlled large parts of Sri Lanka’s northeast, now has only the heavily forested Mullaitivu district to lord over.

This is the district where the LTTE has built seemingly impenetrable underground caves for its leaders. This is from where Prabhakaran oversaw the fight against the Indian Army in 1987-90.

Claiming to be in touch with the LTTE, Shivaji Lingam said he foresaw a guerrilla war if the LTTE lost Mullaitivu too.

“The loss of Kilinochchi is indeed a setback. This we don’t deny. Do remember that the LTTE is fighting an army that enjoys the backing of the whole world.

“The latest developments will lead to a long guerrilla war. The Tigers cannot be vanquished.”

The MP said only a genuine political solution could bring peace to Sri Lanka, where the Tamil separatist campaign has claimed over 70,000 lives since 1983.

Shivaji Lingam is from the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), which once opposed the LTTE and which was one of the militant groups that gave up its weapons in 1987 in line with an India-Sri Lanka accord. The TELO and some other Tamil groups make up the TNA, which is widely seen as a political front for the LTTE.

“What happened after we surrendered our arms? Did we get a political solution? The ultimate winner in Sri Lanka will be one who takes the battle losses and still goes on and on.”