The successor

Published : Dec 07, 2007 00:00 IST

Balasingham Mahendran alias Nadesan, the new political division head of the LTTE. -

Balasingham Mahendran alias Nadesan, the new political division head of the LTTE. -

Balasingham Mahendran alias

WITHIN 24 hours of Tamilselvans death, Tiger supremo V. Prabakaran made Balasingham Mahendran alias Nadesan the new political division head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Nadesan was formerly in charge of the Tiger police, known as Kaaval thurai. A new police chief is likely to be appointed soon.

Nadesan cut his teeth as political commissar on November 8 when he met Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission head Maj. Gen. Lars Johann Solvberg for a 75-minute powwow at Kilinochchi. He expressed regret that Norway had not issued an official statement condemning his predecessors killing.

Nadesan, like Prabakaran, is a native of Valvettithurai and is a distant relative of the LTTE leader. The bespectacled political commissar is in his mid-50s, and a few years older than Prabakaran. Nadesans father, Balasingham, was a dyed-in-the-wool Trotskyite known generally as Comrade Balasingham. Nadesans younger brother Lucas was a first-batch recruit of the LTTE but is living abroad now.

After serving as a seaman on merchant vessels, Balasingham Mahendran returned to Sri Lanka and joined the state police force as a constable. He was serving in Jaffna when the LTTE attacked the Jaffna police station in April 1985 during former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatchers visit to the country. Sathasivampillai Krishnakumar alias Kittu was the LTTE commander for Jaffna then.

Nadesan apparently drew up a diagram of the premises, which helped the LTTE greatly in planning and executing the attack. Tiger cadre crawled through drainage canals and drains to surprise the police. Having prior knowledge of the attack, Nadesan and his wife, also in the police, kept away from work on that day.

Their absence soon aroused suspicion, so the LTTE clandestinely took them across to India by boat. Nadesan began working at the LTTEs political office in Chennai.

Nadesans wife is a Sinhala woman from Morawaka in Matara district. She too has a Left background; her family members were long-standing supporters of the Communist Party leader and former Akuressa Member of Parliament Dr. S.A. Wickremasinghe. She and Nadesan now live in the Wanni region.

Nadesan returned to Jaffna in 1987 and worked in the LTTEs political office. But during the Indian Peace-Keeping Forces (IPKF) stint in Sri Lanka, he took up arms. He was badly injured in a battle and was thought to be dead by the LTTE. The IPKF took the wounded Nadesan to India and treated him. After he recovered, he was detained at Kankesanthurai.

When the LTTE started a fledgling police force, Nadesan was placed in charge of it. He was jokingly referred to as the Inspector General of Police (IGP) of Tamil Eelam. Nadesan emulated various international police force models in developing his own force.

Nadesan speaks Tamil, English and Sinhala. He is a confidant of Prabakaran. This is the primary qualification to be the political commissar of the LTTE.

Nadesans appointment was hardly a surprise as he was slowly being groomed for this role by Prabakaran. The past few years have seen Nadesan participating in many political meetings with visiting dignitaries in Kilinochchi.

He was also part of the LTTE delegations that went abroad for talks. Once he left Switzerland suddenly and returned home after serious disagreements with Tamilselvan.

There has been speculation in sections of the media why LTTE men such as Pulidevan, Thangan and Daya Master were overlooked while nominating the political wing chief and why Nadesan was given a dual role.

The criteria were not seniority, experience or ability though Nadesan is certainly a veteran. The chief criterion was the trust of Prabakaran.

D.B.S. Jeyaraj
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