Indian War Crimes in Sri Lanka: IPKF Massacre of Tamil Doctors and Nurses inside Jaffna Hospital

Indian Air Force in Sri Lanka - IPKF

– by Shenali D Waduge –

“This massacres is worse than My Lai. Then American troops simply ran amok. In the Sri Lankan village, the Indians seem to have been more systematic; the victims being forced to lie down, and then shot in the back’. This was the editorial of the UK Daily Telegraph in August 1989 describing IPKF massacre of over 50 Tamil civilians in Velvettiturai. We really do not know how many Tamil civilians the Indian Army killed in 3 ½ years of occupation in Sri Lanka. However, more and more we are beginning to realize that the emphasis of the last 4 months is with ulterior motive. We now realize how far India wishes to keep buried its massacres of Tamil civilians and an investigation into Sri Lanka’s conflict whether it is done locally or internationally will definitely unearth the thousands of Tamils that the Indian Government wish to keep buried. We recall President Rajapakse’s advice that people in glass houses should not throw stones for in raising false flags against Sri Lanka, India’s own crimes are now resurfacing and how can India atone for the heinous manner of killing Doctors and Nurses inside a hospital. When a Tamil doctor coming down the stairs with stethoscope in hand says ‘doctor’ – does he deserve to be shot? When ICRC, media and other human rights organizations were denied to enter the North, the same sources making guestimates are welcome to quote India’s massacres in Sri Lanka.

Deepavali or Diwali is auspicious to Hindus. It is celebrated in both India and Sri Lanka.

It was on Deepavali day – 21st October 1987 just 3 months after landing in Sri Lanka that the IPKF went on a killing spree not against the LTTE but against doctors, nurses, attendants, patients and members of public. The victims of the massacre included three leading medical specialists at that time, Dr.A.Sivapathasuntharam, Dr.K.Parimelalahar and Dr.K.Ganesharatnam, three nurses and fifteen other employees. The dead included an infant and other children.  Over 70 bodies were left lying in the mortuary. The killings went from 21st Oct 11a.m. to 22nd October 11a.m with Dr. Sivapathasuntharam who had unexpectedly come to the hospital being shot and killed while helping an injured worker.

At about 8:30 a.m., Dr. Sivapathasundaram, the Paediatrician, came walking along the corridor with 3 nurses. He had convinced them that they should identify themselves and surrender. They were walking with their hands up shouting: “We surrender, we are innocent doctors and nurses.”

Dr. Sivapathasundaram was gunned down point blank and the nurses injured. He was a man who had come to save the lives of the children and neonates marooned in the hospital. His dedication was replied with violence and death in the hands of this army from a country that called itself the champion of peace and nonviolence.

The OPD building was shelled by the IPKF on 21st October at 11:30a.m, the shell that fell into Ward 8 killed 7 people.

The IPKF burnt all the dead bodies.

An infant and few other children also became the victims of the IPKF when they made noise, watching these horrors. Struck by a heart attack an aged civlian died died singing the “sivapuraaNam” Barrels and barrels of bullets were spent on innocent patients who tried to seek help. They did the same to the children and the aged who asked for water.”

“The Indian Army came firing into the Radiology Block and fired indiscriminately at this whole mass of people huddled together. We saw patients dying. We lay there without moving a finger pretending to be dead. We were wondering all the time whether we would be burnt or shot when the bodies of the dead were collected

“The Indian Army came firing into the Radiology Block and fired indiscriminately at this whole mass of people huddled together. We saw patients dying. We lay there without moving a finger pretending to be dead. We were wondering all the time whether we would be burnt or shot when the bodies of the dead were collected”.

Has India concerned about the ‘dignity and self-respect’ of the Tamils and concerned about hurting Tamil sentiment not forgotten how it broke every international humanitarian law in the book!

Curfews were declared often throughout 3 weeks imposed within half an hour giving very little chance for people to gather provisions. Tamils may also like to recall some of these times for in galvanizing themselves towards India thinking India will help get Eelam for them with the support of the West must realize that once that Eelam is given it is unlikely to be in the hands of Sri Lankan Tamils or it will most probably be in the hands of a Sri Lankan puppet leader ready to do what India tells and India does what the West tells.

India now telling Sri Lanka that it is concerned about the last stages of the war may like to recall that during IPKF rule not a single media personnel, ICRC or a single human rights worker was allowed into the North. So much for witnesses other than the victims themselves. The last phase in Sri Lanka however had scores of witnesses though none of them reported what those reporting from overseas are imagining and we are not ready to accept accounts by those making guestimates from pro-LTTE sources and those who have been paid to say what they say.

Nevertheless, the point in question is that India spearheading 2 Resolutions against Sri Lanka has totally ignored its crimes against Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s leaders to maintain cordial relations may not wish to remind India of its war crimes killing civilians, raping Tamil women and plundering homes but we think that India’s crimes must now come out.

If Sri Lanka is subject to repeated Resolutions on account of one word – ACCOUNTABILITY we think that ACCOUNTABILITY cannot omit India’s involvement both covert and overt and the world needs to know the exact nature of India’s role in the prevalence of terrorism throughout 3 decades. With India pushing for a 3rd Resolution now shifting to post-war and a proposed Sri Lanka-led International Investigation it appears India is getting cold feet.

Nevertheless, we need to put on record how LTTE emerged, where LTTE was initially trained and answers to all that leads us to nowhere else but India.