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Wanted by India: Prabhakaran, better dead than alive?

Jan 27, 2009 02:15 PM IST India India

Chennai: As the Sri Lankan Army closes in on the LTTE chief's jungle hideout in Mullaitivu, the question doing the rounds is will Prabhakaran be captured alive or will he bite the cyanide capsule around his neck.

The hunt for LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran is so elusive and intricate that you could easily brand it as the Mission Impossible!

Sri Lanka's Army chief General Sarath Fonseka claims these bunkers in the Vanni jungles were used by Prabhakaran. But where is he now and has he fled Sri Lanka altogether? Ironically, it was the Indian Army which had come the closest to taking him alive.

"We tried, we almost hit him twice. But when we reached the camp, he had decamped. First the troops had reached and after that I too went and saw that place. He had left everything and gone away," said Colonel S Hariharan who is a former Intelligence Officer from the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) that had been roped in to bring truce between fighting LTTE and Sri Lankan army.

LTTE sympathisers ridicule the Sri Lankan army's claims that Prabhakaran could have fled the the country.

There are others who romantasise the possibilities of the LTTE chief having given the slip to the approaching Sri Lankan army.

"I belive he would sitting under a tree in the vanni jungles and sipping his cup of tea," said V Jayabalan, a Sri Lankan Tamil poet.

There are others who take stock of the situation realistically, "He has to be in the island to continue the fight. The kind of leadership that he provides has to be given from inside and hence it's unlikely that he would have left," said C Chandrahasan, the Convenor of the Organisation for Elam Refugees Rehabilitation.

But the speculation continues. India would be hostile for Prabhakaran but the large Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora means he could find refuge in several places around the world including Thailand and Malaysia. Even parts of Europe like Switzerland are safe havens if his fraternity or network decides to support his escape.

India has demanded Prabhakaran's extradition but his trial here could be politically sensitive given the tussle in Tamil Nadu politics.

Therefore Prabhakaran dead at his own hands would come as a relief for Sri Lanka and India who will not have to walk a tight rope of diplomacy regarding his trial, extradition and pardon.