Rajiv Gandhi assassination ‘a monumental historical tragedy’ – Balasingham
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 27 June 2006, 16:33 GMT]
In an exclusive interview with India’s NDTV, the LTTE’s Chief Negotiator and theoretician, Mr. Anton Balasingham, described the assassination in 1991 of Rajiv Gandhi as a “great tragedy, a monumental historical tragedy.” Saying “we call upon the Government of India and people of India to be magnanimous to put the past behind and to approach the ethnic question in a different perspective” Mr. Balasingham said the event has to be seen in its political and historical context of the time, involving the military intervention of India and a war between the Indian Peace Keeping Force and the LTTE.
In response to a question by NDTV correspondent Noopur Tiwari on whether the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord led to Rajiv Gandhi’s death, Mr. Balasingham said: “No. It happened later on. What has happened is, since we rejected the Sri Lankan accord there were a lot of events that took place creating a gulf between the LTTE and the Govt of India and the Indians later sent an IPKF - Indian Peace Keeping Force to disarm the LTTE and eventually broke out into an open confrontation. We fought a guerrilla war against the Indian army for 2 years and finally the Sri Lankans. We had a negotiation with Sri Lanka and secured the withdrawal of the Indian troops in the 90's and of course finally it was followed by the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. As far as that event is concerned, I would say it is a great tragedy, a monumental historical tragedy for which we deeply regret and we call upon the Govt of India and people of India to be magnanimous to put the past behind and to approach the ethnic question in a different perspective.”
On being asked by NDTV if the LTTE can give any sort of assurance to India that such an event wouldn’t happen again, Mr Balasingham said, “We have made pledges to the Govt of India that under no circumstances we will act against the interest of the Govt of India and that ever since the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, India played a detached role. What we feel is India should actively involve in the peace process.”
Elaborating on the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord itself, Mr. Balasingham said: “We were not very happy with the political solution proposed by India because it did not satisfy the political aspirations of our people. If India has offered a federal solution as she has in her own country then we would have definitely responded positively but the provincial administration suggested by India was totally inadequate to meet the demands of the Tamil people so that’s why we did not support the accord.”
Commenting on the possible role that India could play in resolving the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, Mr. Balasingham said that the LTTE did not want any military intervention by India as had happened in the past. He also made it clear that India cannot play a mediator’s role as long it keeps the LTTE proscribed.
Mr. Balasingham further said it would be difficult for India to play a mediator’s or facilitator’s role without a working relationship between the government of India and the LTTE.
“The only role which India can play [now] is diplomatically and politically persuading Sri Lanka and the LTTE to seek a negotiated settlement.”
Mr. Balasingham also complimented Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's for admonishing Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse over the Sri Lanka armed forces’ violence against innocent Tamil civilians and for suggesting a form of regional autonomy for the Tamils as a solution to the decades long conflict.