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.