Feature Article

Death at noon creates crack in Sri Lanka's defences

[TamilNet, Sunday, 01 August 2004, 02:31 GMT]
Mr. Kandaiah Yoharasa alias PLOTE Mohan was the most dreaded Tamil paramilitary operative that ever worked with the Sri Lankan armed forces in their war against the Liberation Tigers. His name once evoked terror among the people of Batticaloa. He was an invaluable if not indispensable part of Sri Lanka's intelligence and counter insurgency operations against the LTTE.

Sri Lankan military and Police officers who knew him acknowledge privately that it would be very difficult to replace Mohan. "He was a very good asset", one of them said.

Mohan joined PLOTE, then a separatist Tamil militant group, in 1985 October. He was sent to South India for military training the same year. After he completed his training, Mohan, then known as Thamilchelvan, was put in charge of a PLOTE camp in Orathanadu in the district of Thanjavur (Tanjore) in Tamil Nadu.

In 1987 August he returned to northern Sri Lanka with a group of armed PLOTE cadres that camped in the village of Periyathambanai, west of Vavuniya. During a firefight between the PLOTE and LTTE, Mohan decamped and escaped to Batticaloa, abandoning his G-3 rifle.

An early school dropout, he took to herding cattle in Kothiyapulai, a hamlet west of Batticaloa where he was born and grew up.

An year later, he was recruited by Indian army intelligence in Batticaloa. The Indian military was fighting the Tigers in Sri Lanka's northeast at the time. Mohan joined the Indian military intelligence following a dispute with a relative who was a member of the LTTE.

Mohan was allegedly involved in the murder of a Catholic priest in 1989. The priest Rev. Chandra Fernando, a human rights activist and President of the Batticaloa Citizens' Committe, was disliked by the Indian army for exposing atrocities and rights violations it committed in the east.

Months later, he was accused of attempting to murder Mr. Nithiyananthan, the Batticaloa correspondent of the Tamil daily Virakesari. The journalist who survived several machete cuts and bullet wound, identified Mohan as the assailant who had hacked and shot him in the attempted murder.

Mohan killing
(Photo: Island)
But the Indian army took no action against the their man. In early 1990 he was accused of murdering 'Khalid', a PLO trained senior commander of the Tamil National Army (TNA), when the Indian military was pulling out of the northeast. (TNA was a militia propped up by the Indian army) Khalid's associates said that Mohan had killed him to rob him of the several million rupees he was carrying in bag when they were fleeing an LTTE onslaught on the TNA in the Amparai district.

Mohan joined the Sri Lanka army intelligence soon after the Indian army left.

He moved in with the Sri Lanka army when it recaptured the Batticaloa district from the Liberation Tigers in August-September 1990. Mohan and some of his former colleagues from the PLOTE set up camp in the heart of Batticaloa town in a multi storey building once owned by a Sinhala jeweller. Protected by Sri Lanka military intelligence, he and his men were involved in arrests, abductions, extortion and murder in Batticaloa, according to human rights activists who worked at great risk to their lives in the district at that time. A family in Kokkaddicholai committed suicide fearing Mohan's threats and demands for money. The incident was recorded by Dr. Patricia Lawrence, an American who was researching for her Phd in Batticaloa during this period.

In 1993, a Special Presidential Commission headed by a retired supreme court judge which inquired into massacres, rapes and murders by Sri Lanka Army and its collaborators in 1990-92, named Mohan and his military intelligence handler called Richard Dias alias Munaz as persons who were involved in the mass murder of more than 350 innocent civilians, including children and pregnant women, from the refugee camp in the Eastern University and the village of Saththurukkondaan near Batticaloa.

But the Sri Lankan government ignored the commission report and continued to nurture Mohan as an invaluable military intelligence asset.

Meanwhile, the PLOTE embarrassed by Mohan's activities and dire notoriety, said it had sacked him and totally distanced itself from him.

By now a multi millionaire, Mohan moved to Colombo following several attempts by the LTTE to assassinate him. Since then he visited Batticaloa by special helicopter provided by Sri Lanka's military intelligence to take part in or direct covert operations against the Liberation Tigers.

He was involved in several successful deep penetration operations in LTTE held areas in the east.

Mohan was also a key person in counter intelligence operations against the Tigers in Colombo. As such he worked with the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) of the Police in Colombo.

That his death is a serious blow to Sri Lanka's military and intelligence establishments was quite evident from the number of apparently anxious senior Police and military officers who rushed to the spot where Mohan was shot dead at noon on Saturday.

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