A Man With Many Faces
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
The elusive leader of the JVP dissidents,Premakumar Guneratnam also known as Kumar who is under surveillance was back in the limelight last week.
Identified as a traitor, a strategist and a theoretician, Kumar is being monitored for operating under false identification papers and managing to remain elusive.
Kumar it is learnt is not wanted for his past actions, especially during the 1988 and 1989 period.
In fact he has played a helpful role to the authorities by divulging secret details regarding JVP operations at the time that had led to the capture of several JVP politburo members.
Kumar has been accused of divulging details about the then Politburo member Ananda Idamegama who was eventually captured by security forces.
Idamegama was captured in Anuradhapura while carrying out JVP work in the area. He had been in touch with Kumar who was in Trincomalee at the time.
According to a former JVP member, Kumar was indirectly responsible for the capture of the JVP’s founding leader Rohana Wijeweera.
“It was Kumar who got the JVP’s second in command at the time, D. M. Ananda’s driver captured by the security forces which eventually led to the arrest of Ananda himself. It was information received from Ananda that led the security forces to Wijeweera,” he explained.
He added that an Army officer who had been involved in capturing Kumar had said that the former JVP senior had been easily “broken” by the security forces.
“It had taken only half an hour for them to “break” him,” he observed.
However, Kumar left the country soon after being released by the security forces following “rehabilitation.” He was among 21 JVP leaders who left the country at the time.
It is believed that Kumar had then left to Australia with his family and had later returned to the country using a false passport.
Interest in the issue about Kumar using forged travel documents surfaced last week.
The CID at the Katunayake International Airport questioned a lady doctor and her two children who are Australian citizens last Monday (2) under the Immigration and Emigration Act.
It was revealed a few hours after their detention that the lady detained, Dr. Champa Somaratne is the wife of the former JVP senior Kumar. Dr. Somaratne and the children were released after recording a statement.
Dr. Somaratne was an active member of the JVP who contested as the party’s Kurunegala District Leader in the 1994 general elections.
She had denied any knowledge of Premakumar Guneratnam claiming she was married to a person called Dayalal.
Interestingly, Dayalal is the alias used by Kumar in his national identity card and passport. The name used by Kumar is Rathnayaka Mudiyanselage Dayalal.
Investigations into Kumar by the intelligence units had found that the passport had been issued to him on October 23, 2000.
The name Dayalal used in the passport, it is learnt, is of a JVP supporter who at the time was employed at Ceynor, under the purview of the Ceylon Fisheries Corporation.
A JVP defector on conditions of anonymity told The Sunday Leader that the passport had been issued to Kumar under the name of Dayalal since true copies had been handed in as supporting documents to the Immigration and Emigration Department.
After finding out details about Kumar’s forged passport, intelligence units have tried to closely monitor his movements.
Kumar like on previous occasions has so far managed to remain under the radar.
Brother of the late JVP politburo member Ranjitham Guneratnam, Kumar is recognised as a strategist and a theoretician.
While in the JVP, Kumar served as the international affairs secretary and education secretary and played a key role in the JVP’s inner sanctum called the Bolshevik Party.
Kumar was among the few senior members of the Bolshevik Party which has a membership of around 150-200.
The Bolshevik Party
The Bolshevik Party officials determine the functions and operations of the JVP. The Central Committee and Politburo of the Bolshevik Party are kept under wraps while it is the names of the Central Committee and Politburo members of the JVP that are made public.
Inquiries into the reason for the intelligence units to keep a close watch on Kumar have revealed that the sleuths are monitoring his activities and inquiring into his visits in and out of the country using a forged passport.
Intelligence sources said that Kumar is one of the few JVP leaders to have survived the 1988-89 period even after being captured.
Kumar was captured by the then Colonel Sarath Fonseka who was commanding the troops in Trincomalee at the time.
Before his capture, Kumar was popular due to the role played by him in attacking and destroying a vessel of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF). After his capture, Kumar had managed to win the support of the Army by showing them undersea explosive dumps.
A JVP defector pointed out that the dislike towards the IPKF among the local security forces at the time resulted in Kumar receiving the support of the Army.
Kumar had played a significant role in getting captured JVP cadres to cooperate with the security forces. He had in fact educated the security forces personnel on how best to deal with the JVPers.
Nevertheless, Kumar played a key role in re-grouping the JVP in 1994. After reforming the JVP, Kumar was involved in the party’s decision making process.
However, he also caused two main splits in the party – the defection of Wimal Weerawansa in 2008 and the most recent split last year where Kumar is now leading a group of party dissidents.
Weerawansa and Kumar mainly clashed over the former’s hardline stance with regard to the ethnic issue.
Kumar left the country soon after Weerawansa defected to the government for security reasons.
The ideological clash in the JVP was backed by Kumar from overseas and according to party sources, has been in the making for several years.
Kumar returned to the country around August last year when the JVP leadership started to identify and remove the party members who were trying to create a division in the party.
Following the defection of the dissidents, the JVP has continuously maintained that Kumar was never a member of the party.
JVP Leader Somawansa Amerasinghe
JVP dissidents however maintain that the JVP leadership is using the fact the Kumar worked as an internal member of the party to claim he was never a member of the party.
According to the JVP dissidents, the JVP has a large number of full time members who carry out the internal work of the party and are never seen publicly.
“Kumar does not have any problem in coming out in the open, but the party members have decided that it was best for him to carry on internal party work,” a dissident member said.
When asked as to why Kumar still remained elusive even after defecting from the JVP and forming a separate movement to continue with the struggle, the dissident group member said it has been decided that it was best for Kumar to continue with politics from behind the scenes. “But if the members decide he should work in the open, there are no obstacles that would prevent him from doing so,” he said.
As for whether Kumar was using a forged passport and identification papers, he noted that the authorities could take legal action if any wrong has been committed.