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One of INTERPOL's most wanted terrorists, Kumaran Pathmanathan (INTERPOL file photo) and KP as Selvaraj Pathmanathan,' LTTE's 'chief negotiator.' (A recently published photo)

The world knows him as KP, the man who kept the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) well fortified with arms and ammunition. To achieve his procurement objective, he indulged in drug trafficking using a widespread network in several countries.

Known by many names including Dharmalingam Shanmugam, Kumaran Padmanadha, Kaludai and Kutti, KP was really the wind beneath the militant outfit by keeping it well supplied with arms.

Born on April l4, 1955 in Jaffna, he is one of the most educated LTTE members having obtained an Arts Degree (not Art of War) from the University of Jaffna.

Much of his youth was spent in furthering the LTTE cause.

With the annihilation of the LTTE, some look up to KP who is now believed to be residing in Europe or Malaysia as the would-be successor of Velupillai Pirapaharan. Whether KP would have an organisation left to lead, given the military devastation of its cadres is altogether a different debate.

KP’s link to providing ammunition used for the Rajiv Gandhi murder on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur caused the Indian intelligence service to conduct thorough investigations into his links, networks, procurement operations and drug smuggling he was infamous for. To date, he is a man wanted by India.

The intelligence reports on him conclude that, supported by the vast network, KP had managed to successfully operate in India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Panama (Honduras and St. Vincent) and the United Kingdom.

According to Government Defence Spokesperson Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, the Sri Lankan government has already requested Interpol to apprehend KP and to hand him over to the Sri Lankan authorities.

The LTTE may be militarily defeated, but the support it enjoyed as an organisation though reduced has not completely died out. Especially the Tamil diaspora, despite Pirapaharan’s death still wishes for the organisation to continue under a new leadership.

A sauve guy carrying several passports unlike his relative from Velvettithurai, KP is capable of operating from several countries under cover and is a great survivor. This makes him attractive to the now demoralised Tamil diaspora seeking fresh leadership.

And for his innate ability to keep the LTTE armoury well supplied, KP is considered leadership material.

A report by the Central Bureau of Investigation Special Investigation Team (SIT Folder No/XV Part II) MADRAS is comprehensive.  It states, that investigations conducted so far have disclosed that Kumaran Padmanabha has been the chief procurer of arms and ammunition, telecommunication equipment, explosives and electronic equipment for the LTTE.

He has also been instrumental in funding purchases of these materials through gold and drug smuggling. KP’s area of operation is in the international market, mainly the Far East i.e.; Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Burma; Europe, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Greece and UK; America- Panama and the Caribbean — St. Vincent.

In fact the wing of the LTTE which arranges funds and supplies has been named as the “KP Department.” In this case, KP becomes relevant to trace the sources of procurement of explosives used for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, arms (AK47 and 9 mm pistol) carried by the accused and the wireless equipment used by them.

Available personal details

KP was born on April 14, 1955 at Maliyaddy near Kankesanthurai, Jaffna. He was residing at No: 130, KKS Road, Jaffna. He is said to be related to Velupillai Pirapaharan  His original name is Dharmalingam. He graduated in Arts from Jaffna University.

KP is in possession of one Sri Lankan and two Indian passports. He holds a Sri Lankan Passport No J-803500 and Sri Lankan Identity Card No: 550971231-V. He holds two Indian Passports - No. E 432432 in the name of Dharmalingam Shanmugham Kumaran. This passport was issued from London on 9.8.89. The other Indian passport used by him is in the name of Selvaraja Pathmanabhan. Number of this Passport is E-277582.


It is reported that in 1981, KP robbed the People’s Bank in Tiruneveli (Jaffna). KP has been active in India since 1983. During  1983 he was arrested for smuggling gold worth Rs. 40 lakhs from Singapore to Bombay in collusion with Vakil Kandasamy. He was then operating in the name of Kutti alias Padmanabha. He was again arrested for smuggling in 1984.

From 1983 onwards KP has been operating from Madras in close association with Raghu alias Gundappa.  In 1984 KP along with Raghu alias Gundappa approached Capt. Piraisoodi alias Capt. David, a Merchant Navy Captain and floated a company in Singapore called Arasu Maritime Pvt. Ltd, Singapore.

Money for starting the company, i.e. US 25,000, which was the paid-up capital, was provided by KP. In October 1984 a ship MC CHOLAN was purchased. This ship originally belonged to a Chinese company and was registered at Panama. This ship was operating between Singapore, Penang, Sri Lanka, Vizag and Nagapattinam carrying outboard speed boat engines, communication equipment and, in all probability, armaments.

During the period 1986-88 he floated a new shipping company at Singapore called “Playmouth Shipping Company” in partnership with Capt. Vijayakumar. This ship also was used exclusively for the supplies of the LTTE.


In 1989 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, KP floated a company ‘Vikram Holdings Pvt. Ltd’ in partnership with three Malaysians of Sri Lankan origin. Capt. Piraisoodi was also one of the directors of the company. During the same period, KP opened another company —  “Point Pedro Shopping,” registered at Panama.  His company was operating two ships “Sun Bird” and “Elicia.”

The financing was done by KP. Sun Bird flying the flag of Cyprus was caught in Penang in December 1990 along with boat engines, communication equipment etc; the case is pending in Malaysia. Another ship called the “Golden Bird” is also financed by KP and was reportedly highly active. Sun Bird and Elicia were extensively used for transporting arms and explosives from European countries. Both the ships fly the flag of Honduras.

During November 1990, it was learnt that the London office of the LTTE had organised a shipment of weapons through Kumaran.

However, the shipment could not come due to the Gulf War. Some other ships, which have been under the control of KP are “Amazon” and “Nifly.”

Two close associates of KP in India were Eason Singaraya and Kumar. Eason was arrested in 1991 January by local police and is presently lodged at Vellore jail. Vakil Kandswamy was another close associate of KP who had been used by KP for smuggling of gold from Singapore and arranging for LTTE members in going abroad on forged travel papers.

During November 1990, Eason and Kandaswamy had spoken to KP over the telephone from Adayar STD booth. KP was at that time reported to be at Kuala Lampur. During the conversation with Kandaswamy, KP had indicated that the LTTE was going to launch a major operation in India to harm the Indian leadership.

During Nov-Dec 1990, KP was in Cyprus. He was in touch with Kumar who was staying at 28th Lodge, Room No 5, Sarangoon, Singapore along with Kader. Telephone calls made from this lodge to Cyprus during the period can be checked to ascertain the Cyprus address of KP. A consignment of arms was loaded on the ship Golden Bird off the coast of Cyprus by KP.

He then called Kader from Singapore and he joined him in Cyprus. He was put aboard the Golden Bird by KP. The Golden Bird reached the Bay of Bengal in February 1991 and the arms cargo was unloaded and sent to Jaffna in four installments during March 1991. The Golden Bird belongs to a company called “Henseatic” registered with Orient Shipping in Germany.

During this period the other LTTE ship Elicia was also in the Bay of Bengal. Kader had since been apprehended by the Indian Navy along with nine others from the vessel Tong Nova and is now in the custody of the Q Branch of Tamil Nadu Police.

It is also learnt that in June 1991 KP visited Singapore and went to the Thai-Cambodia border in the third week of July, where he negotiated the purchase of arms and ammunition from KPNLF for the LTTE.  He is believed to have proceeded to Australia /New Zealand.


During January 1991, KP contacted Capt. Piraisoodi from Bangkok (Thailand) and spoke to him about transportation of consignments. 

During May 1991, KP was reported to be in India. On 26-05-1991, five days after the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, KP reportedly left for Bangkok from Bombay. His present whereabouts are not known.

KP being the sole procurer, transporter and supplier of arms, explosives and communication equipment for the LTTE is the prime suspect in the Rajiv Gandhi case who would have supplied the explosives used for the assassination, AK 47 and 9 mm pistol used by Sivarasan and the wireless sets used by Sivarasan, Kanthan, Dixon and others. So far no evidence has come to suggest any alternative method of procurement and supply.

During the period 1984-5, while KP was in India, there is evidence of large-scale purchases of highly sophisticated weapons by him. During the searches made at the house of Radhakrishnan alias Radha at Chingelput, some files captured including “KP-deal list” were seized. These files indicate bulk purchases of gunboats, recoilless rifles, 106 mm, torpedoes, RPG anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, Israeli grenades, 7.6 mm NATO rifles, ammunition, plastic explosives, sub machine guns, night vision devices and related equipment.

Shopping list

The documents also indicate procurement of G3, N 16, M 60 rifles, Czech pistols 9mm and large quantities of motar and explosive substances. The documents disclose the price at which these arms are available in British Pounds Sterling and also contain certain unsigned requirements apparently sent to the arms dealers for procurement of these weapons.

The above details would necessarily imply management of huge finances from floating of companies, purchase of ships, arms etc; however, there is no direct evidence to indicate sources of finance, except for some isolated incidents of gold smuggling which by themselves appear inadequate to finance the above requirements.

In this context, information furnished by the Criminal Investigations Department of the Sri Lanka Police is relevant. This information relates to the links between drug trafficking and the Tamil terrorist organisations.

The report inter alia, states that during the period 1984-6 a large percentage of Sri Lankans arrested in West Germany, Italy, France and Spain for drug smuggling were found to be Sri Lankan Tamils. The average percentage of the Sri Lankan Tamils out of the total Sri Lankans arrested during the period are 84%. Almost all the Tamils arrested were found traveling on forged passports.

During interrogations, they admitted that they were indulging in drug trafficking on behalf of Tamil terrorists in order to derive funds for purchase of arms.

During the period 1989-90, the Sri Lankan Tamil drug traffickers arrested abroad were largely found to be operating from India.

During 1989-90 as many as 13 Sri Lankan Tamils were arrested for drug smuggling by the Sri Lanka Police Narcotics Bureau. They were found to be having definite LTTE links. The Sri Lanka CID has come to the conclusion that large sums of money diverted from the sale of heroin by the drug running syndicates of the LTTE were re-routed to South India from where the money is disseminated abroad for purchase of armaments.

(Extract reproduced from The Assassination Of Rajiv Gandhi, Unanswered Questions And Unasked Queries by Dr. Subramanan Swamy)








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