– by Shenali D Waduge –
Maj Gen Harkirat Singh, commander of the IPKF claims that he was ordered not once but twice to eliminate Prabakaran when he arrived to meet the Indian Generals in Palaly in September 1987. What is poignant about this revelation is that it was only on 3 June 1987 that India violated Sri Lanka’s territory by dropping parippu threatening Sri Lanka not to retaliate, thereafter on 29th July 1987 Sri Lanka was forced to sign the Indo-Lanka Accord as well as amend its country’s constitution and introduce the 13th Amendment alongside the Provincial Council system. It was on 30th July that the IPKF landed and on 2nd August Prabakaran who had been saved by India and flown out of Sri Lanka and kept in India until the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord returned to the country. It was also just weeks since a supposed handing over of arms though having supplied arms to thousands of Tamil militant groups, India would well have known that the decrepit arms that were handed over was nothing of the type that India had gifted these militants. Therefore, why would India order its Indian Army general to assassinate the Head militant that India saved at Vadamarachchi and to whom Rajiv Gandhi himself had presented his personal bullet proof vest unless India was only interested in getting Sri Lanka to sign the Indo-Lanka Accord, amend Sri Lanka’s Constitution so that it would facilitate India’s incursions and possibly occupy Sri Lanka like Kashmir – 25 years on we now realize that the entire “we are concerned about Sri Lankan Tamils” is a bogus charade by India which Prabakaran realized far before all others and took remedial action by assassinating Rajiv before he himself was assassinated.
Thus, we can safely say that the Jain Commission report following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination clearly puts in perspective the fact that Indira Gandhi’s orders to destabilize Sri Lanka meant that Indian officials were tasked to gather Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups, train and arm them on Indian soil in a clandestine operation handled by former Indian military personnel and India’s intelligence agency as far back as 1977 well before 1983 July riots. This categorically puts to rest the bogus notion that LTTE emerged to save the Tamils against the Sinhalese after the July 1983 riots. What the riots did was to facilitate and give justification for the militancy and what India had been clandestinely doing could be put into the open as a justification for helping the Tamil militants. People tend to ignore the timelines that would set the story straight and it becomes easy for the media to omit the key fact and join the two separate incidents to justify LTTE militancy and Indian intervention. Therefore, the July 83 riots had been monopolized and manipulated to give acceptance to Tamil militancy both in Sri Lanka, India and the rest of the world as well as plug India directly into the picture as “negotiator” and “savior of the Tamil people”.
Fuss over Prabakaran’s death in 2009
Rajiv Gandhi was blown to bits on 21 May 1991. Plenty of questions have arisen with no answers still. Yet, in 1998, after six years and 300 witness accounts India concluded the case on the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. The Indian judge V Navaneetham convicted Prabakaran and 28 others for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi – 25 of them were sentenced with death (death sentences are rare in India and those convicted are hanged). Prabakaran, Pottu Amman and LTTE’s Akila were sentenced with death in absentia – therefore what is India’s fuss about Prabakaran’s death in 2009?
Rajiv Gandhi died in May 1991 along with 17 others at a political rally near Poonamallee in Tamil Nadu where a Tamil girl suicide bomber offered him a garland of flowers and set off plastic explosives packed with 10,000 metal pellets. She had been one of the many women raped by the Indian Peace Keeping Force. Of course the decision to hold the rally in Sriperumpedur is itself controversial as it had not been part of Rajiv’s tour itinerary and the Tamil Congress head Mrs.Maragadham Chandrasekar and her son who is married to a Sri Lankan Tamil coincidentally with connections to the LTTE had personally gone to Delhi to secure the event in Sriperumpedur. Moreover, Sivarasan travelling by bus to the meeting knew of the change in venue and other details though there were no mobile phones or GPRS tracking systems at that time. Similarly conspiracy theories abound including the omission of Rajiv’s security head at the venue and various other tapes not submitted to the investigating team or to the Jain Commission itself as well as the loss and exposure of key photographs. The conspiracy theorists would also love it when RAW’s senior officer Kunnikrishnan was involved with a CIA planted Pan Am air hostess who extracted information on India’s plans that eventually led to Kunnikrihnans indictment.
Nevertheless, what cannot be ignored is that the LTTE does not apologize for its crimes easily and when with Prabakaran by his side the supposed LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham asked to let bygones be bygones and the LTTE arms procurement head K P confirmed that the biggest mistake LTTE did was to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi we can safely say whether LTTE did the killing by planning it themselves or under orders by a third party, the LTTE did commit the crime. If the LTTE did carry out the killing of Rajiv Gandhi then the LTTE is certainly responsible and accountable with or without 3rd party involvement.
What was equally baffling was that Anton Balasingham’s apology in 2006 was responded by the Government of India with a statement by Indian External Affairs Minister Anand Sharma who said “The people of India cannot forget the dastardly crime that was committed by the LTTE,”…. “confession on their part of their complicity in the assassination of our former prime minister. This has been a well-known fact for the last 15 years. LTTE leaders have been charge-sheeted and declared proclaimed offenders.” and when Balasingham appealed for “magnanimity” on the part of India, Sharma’s response was “that would be tantamount to endorsing the philosophy of terror, violence and political assassination.” – so what was all the shuttling about prior to the fall of the LTTE in May 2009 wherein India was sweating at the idea of an LTTE defeat and the possible extermination of Prabakaran an order that the Indians first gave to its army way back in 1987!
The order to kill Prabakaran was revealed when Maj.Gen. Harkirat Singh in his book “Intervention in Sri Lanka” claimed that he was twice ordered by India’s High Commissioner in Colombo J N Dixit to kill LTTE head Prabakaran on 15 September 1987 in Palaly when Prabakaran arrived to meet the Indian generals. Gen. Harkirat the Commander of the IPKF had refused to do so after being told by Lt. Gen. Depinder Singh that an orthodox army does not shoot people in the back given that the LTTE leader was coming for the meeting under the white flag.
The Gen. also revealed that at one stage the IPKF was even saluting Prabakaran! He also confirms that the IPKF was not given maps of the area which meant they were ill prepared for the job and also questioned what exactly India had in mind by sending its army without proper preparation given that they knew the capabilities of the Sri Lankan Tamil militants having trained them and being their tutors?
The Indian army is not made up of men who speak Tamil only – therefore the IPKF was clueless as to know who was Tamil, who was Sinhalese and most of all who were LTTE. This can explain why they went on a rampage once the cordial relations with LTTE broke down killing even civilians.
Timelines are extremely important because it is these hard facts that help to negate and nullify false notions and theories being spread.
· India provided covert aid and training to Sri Lankan Tamil militants from 1977-1987
· May 1987 Vadamarachchi Operation – Prabakaran cornered. Sri Lanka ordered by India to stop onslaught. Prabakaran escapes capture and is flown to Delhi and kept under virtual house arrest
· June 3, 1987 India violates Sri Lanka’s territory and drops food aid giving 30minutes notice and threat to not retaliate
· July 21, 1987 Six helicopters sent to Sri Lanka from India to bring Prabakaran, his wife and family to Delhi. The helicopters were to fly undetected by the Sri Lankan Airforce and onto a temple area under LTTE control.
· July 27, 1987 Prabakaran and entourage airlifted to Delhi. Indian High Commission Hardeep Puri was present
· July 28, 1987 Prabakaran and entourage kept at Ashoka Hotel, Prabakaran meets Rajiv Gandhi
· July 29, 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord is signed amidst island wide curfew, minus media in the absence of Sri Lankan Premier and other senior Ministers who were not present to show their displeasure at India’s incursion.
· July 30, 1987 IPKF arrived in North, by 1990 over 100,000 of them were stationed in Sri Lanka.
· August 2 1987 Prabakaran flown back to Jaffna from Delhi after Rajiv returns to Delhi
· September 15, 1987 IPKF Commander ordered by Dixit to kill Prabakaran citing that they were from Rajiv Gandhi. Noteworthy is that India and RAW had begun to train and arm the ENDLF and wanted LTTE out of the way.
· September 19, 1987 Dixit writes to Indian Government that the IPKF was totally unprepared for the task at hand. We would like to question what that “task” actually was. Dixit also charged that IPKF soldiers were “even saluting” to Prabakaran and recommended to change the GOC 54 Division (that was deployed over 540km from North to South and East to West of Sri Lanka)
· Oct 3, 1987 interception of speedboat carrying LTTE leaders including Pulendran wanted for several murders. Sri Lankan Army were to take detainees to Colombo but India wanted them to remain in Palaly where even Prabakaran had visited them.
· Oct 5, 1987 News received that the LTTE detainees were to be flown to Colombo and the men had bit into the cyanide capsule and 15 of the 17 died. The bodies were picked up by the LTTE
· Oct 6, 1987 LTTE white van approaches IPKF post in Jaffna and throw 8 dead bodies of Sinhalese policemen that were to be released as a show of retaliation for the dead LTTE detainees as well as attack Sinhalese dwellings killing over 200 Sinhalese civilians.
· October 8, 1987 IPKF declares war on LTTE
· Indian Peace Keeping Force deployed from July 1987 to March 1990. 1155 Indian soldiers were killed by LTTE using the very arms India had gifted. Over 4000 Indian soldiers were wounded too. It took over 2 decades for India to even commemorate the dead Indian soldiers! The dead and injured soldier families should ideally be pressing charges against the Indian Government for their deaths arose because India armed the Sri Lankan militants and the Indian Army including its famed para commandos were humiliated on foreign soil.
· Rajiv Gandhi assassinated in Tamil Nadu (the Land of Tamils) on 21 May 1991
Of course neither Rajiv Gandhi nor Dixit is alive to ascertain whether orders were given to exterminate Prabakaran but it does raise the flag about the exact nature of India’s agenda in Sri Lanka vis a vis the Tamil factor. To send an army to guarantee an end to Sri Lanka’s problem by getting the armed Tamil militants to hand over the very arms India had gifted and then within less than 2 months to start an all out war does make us to wonder what India planned to do after disarming the Tamil militants and killing Prabakaran while arming and training the ENDLF? Moreso when Dixit himself said “General, please ensure that the actions of the IPKF are in line with my discussions with the Prime Minister … You should adopt a posture of gradual change from negotiations to coercion”. The golden question is if India assured Sri Lanka it would disarm the militants in 72 hours what was India doing arming and training ENDLF in Sri Lanka using IPKF an issue that LTTE began to get suspicious about? Moreover if India did disarm all the Sri Lankan militants as promised in the Indo-Lanka Accord what if India chose not to leave Sri Lanka and turned the North and East into a Kashmir? Sri Lanka is indebted to just one man who changed Sri Lanka’s history – late Premier V P Singh who did the honorable thing and agreed to recall the IPKF.
If we explore the “what if” we can wonder what the outcome would have been if Gen. Harkirat Singh had in fact carried out Dixit’s orders wherein Rajiv Gandhi would have been alive, Prabakaran would have been dead, LTTE would have possibly collapsed and thousands of lives would have been saved BUT India may well have done far worse things to Sri Lanka than the “parippu” drop.
We are now well aware that India’s grasp on Sri Lanka has nothing to do with Tamils or eelaam but everything to do with securing Sri Lanka for its own political benefit and Sri Lanka’s leaders by allowing India stake after stake in Sri Lanka is handing to India its very desires without much effort at all. What Prabakaran did not do, Sri Lanka’s leaders appear to be doing putting at risk the lives of 20million people and totally clueless of their own political future if India gets enough scope to run Sri Lanka minus Sri Lankan politicians. Sampoor, Indian Oil, Trinco Harbor, Communication monopoly, oil and energy, industrial parks, education and what not already given to India is likely to create economic burdens to the masses and how will Sri Lanka’s leaders be able to solve situations when the masses begin to realize the sell out of the country to foreign enemy forces – it is nothing the armed forces would be able to solve either for India is not a terrorist group and cannot be nullified as easily?
By attempting to curry flavor with the very nations that had been part of the problem all these decades to ward off the international political pressures, what the leaders are inadvertently doing is not only digging their own grave but taking down the country with them as well totally nullifying the victory gained as a result of the sacrifice of the armed forces. It is good if the leadership wake up to the ground realities and addresses the incursions that are taking place throughout the country with and without their knowledge made worse by public officials quick to sign on any dotted line without thinking of the ramifications for the future of the country.
Sri Lanka is a nation with a rich cultural heritage. This cannot be ignored. Politics is a game of cunning but when politics becomes only a game of cunning we end up erasing our cultural past because all the cats and dogs that we invite are oblivious to their plots and plans are to subtly replace the nation with notions and systems that suit their rule.
We are well aware of the mistakes made by former Sri Lankan leaders and the public will ever hold them accountable for their treachery and unpatriotism – the same mistakes in different format should not be made by the present leaders. Repeated warnings should not be ignored for the safety of the nation and its people because we are dealing with a far more dangerous situation than terrorism which is why 13a and Indo-Lanka Accord needs to be rightfully buried over and above the livelihood merits it brings to those associated with the Provincial Council system. The greater good of the country must prevail.