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Selected Writings by Sachi Sri KanthaOn the Notoriety and Nitty Gritty of Hit Lists
14 September 2005
"... As for any commodity, hit lists are of two types; the real and the fake. Simple common sense dictates that if the LTTE indeed has a hit list, it cannot continue to be a lively organization, if its purported hit list is in the files of every media organization .. Fake hit lists are very much in demand in the political theater... (and) are mostly manufactured by lazy crooks in the media, from the feeds of underground skunks..."
1992 Hit List in Chennai
The India Today magazine of April 15, 1992 (pp.28-31) carried a three page “Special Report” authored by Anirudhya Mitra, from the then Madras. On page 28, with a boxed caption, “The Hit List”, four photographs of prominent Tamil Nadu individuals were placed;
(1) J.Jayalalitha, the chief minister of the state,
(2) D.R.Karthikeyan, the then chief of Special Investigation Team which “investigated” the Rajiv Gandhi assassination which had occurred in May 1991,
(3) Vazhapadi Ramamurthy, the then president of Tamil Nadu Congress Committee of the Congress Party, and
(4) S.Sripal, the then Deputy General of Police of the state.
The report stated, that the “LTTE supremo V.Pirabhakaran is reported to have sent a suicide squad to eliminate those [i.e., these above mentioned four individuals] who have done damage to its once-vaunted Tamil Nadu network.”
Though the author of this “Special Report” was recorded in the magazine as Anirudhya Mitra, it was an open secret who manufactured this junk and fed it to Mitra.
Since then, I had indulged in studying the notoriety and nitty gritty of news on hit lists. Now, 13 years later, lets check what has happened to these four VIPs of Tamil Nadu. Jayalalitha is still in business as the chief minister of the state. The two officers of the police force have retired and are still alive and kicking. But guess what happened to Vazhapadi Koothapadayachi Ramamurthy? He became a cropper to the hit list of not LTTE, but Chitraguptan, the mythical Accountant General of Hindu Lord of the Hades. Ramamurthy died on October 27, 2002, from a massive heart attack at the age of 62.
The purported “hit list of LTTE” released by the spooks of India’s intelligence weasels have had a snow-ball effect in the South Asian political theater since 1992. The crooked politicians took it upon themselves as a ‘badge of honor’ to be in the “hit list of LTTE”. The DMK leader, M.Karunanidhi, having been piqued that he was not included in the “hit list of LTTE” while his nemesis Jayalalitha had made it, took it upon himself to publicly proclaim that he too was in the “hit list of LTTE”.
Still the paranoia and burlesque theater based on the “hit list of LTTE” thrives in Tamil Nadu, as is evinced by the August 15 news report of Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) from Chennai. Here is an excerpt, for those who have missed it inadvertently:
“Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalitha hoisted the tricolour at the independence day celebrations here Monday amid tight security. Over 500 policemen guarded Fort St.George, the venue for the celebrations that was under surveillance by personnel manning closed circuit cameras.
Security across Tamil Nadu was tightened following Friday’s assassination of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. The Indian Navy has been on high alert along Tamil Nadu’s more than 1,000 km coastline, officials said. Jayalalitha has ‘Z’ category security – one of the highest levels of security for Indian political leaders – as she has been an outspoken critic of Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Airports, railway stations and bus stops were under the scanner since Thursday, and police kept a close watch on sensitive towns like Coimbatore, Tirunelveli and Ramanathapuram. Some 10,000 extra security personnel were deployed on the streets of Chennai Monday…”
Hit List, Z Category and Z plus Category
The less comment on the burlesque theater run by a former cinema star for entertainment of ill-fed masses, the better. For decades, Mahatma Gandhi has been weeping in his grave on the banal shows of “celebrations” by the ‘Z’ category security-holding dimwits, in the name of India’s independence. But one may like to know that in Indian bureaucratic lingo, Jayalalitha holding the ‘Z’ category security is not in the top-dog circle. There is a superior category called ‘Z plus’ as well. I’m not joking but the hair-splitting difference between the ‘Z’ category and ‘Z plus’ category is distinguished only by the word ‘very’. Whereas the ‘Z’ category security refers to “Very High threat”, the ‘Z plus’ category security refers to “Very Very High threat”.
Who said that Indian bureaucrats are not endowed with a sense of humor? Here is a verbatim relevant excerpt from the Jain Commission Report, relating to the threat perception to Shri Rajiv Gandhi. It makes rather humorous reading. The gaps denoted by ‘three dots’ are as in the original.
“Deposing before the Commission on 25th April 1996, Shri.K.N.Thakur, former Joint Director, Intelligence Bureau, attempted to undermine the threat assessment of the R&AW by interpreting technical jargon and defining that the expression ‘Very High’ used in the threat assessment report of the R&AW actually meant provision of only Z category to Shri.Rajiv Gandhi as defined in the Yellow Book. He stated,
‘This report records in para 3 that the threat to the security of Shri Rajiv Gandhi from the Sikh extremist organisation would continue to be ‘very high’ despite his leaving office…The words ‘very high’ means ‘category Z’ as defined in the Yellow Book regarding the security of dignitaries. R&AW does not prescribe the threat level, it only gives only threat assessment and it gives threat assessment in the light of the Yellow Book and expressions used in the Yellow Book are so used in threat assessment reports.’
However, during the same deposition, he contradicted himself by stating that,
‘The threat assessment report of R&AW does not make mention of security principle or the security level based on demitting of office by him. The R&AW report does not make mention of the objective principle of threat to the protected persons…because security principle is not their charter. Yellow book is the charter of I.B. and State Police… ‘Very High threat’ is only ‘Z’ category, ‘Very Very’ is Z plus…’
The above statement implies that the R&AW could not possibly have recommended the level of security since it was not their charter. The fault, therefore, lies with the narrow interpretation of the term ‘Very High’ by the Intelligence Bureau itself in equating the threat level to Shri Rajiv Gandhi to Category Z merely due to the use of the expression ‘very high’ and thereby missing the very essence of the message which was attempted to be conveyed by this message.
The specious logic of this argument gets further reinforced by the fact that the threat perception reports for Shri.Rajiv Gandhi furnished by the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau units (excerpted earlier) have used quite strong and categorical expressions…” [Jain Commission Report, August 1997, vol.3, chapter 3]
Hit List since 1994
Taking a cue from Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi, the Tamil Nadu’s tweedledum and tweedledee of politics since 1989, the two media-savvy Tamil politicians in Colombo (namely Lakshman Kadirgamar and Douglas Devananda) who had aligned with President Chandrika Kumaratunga in 1994 also began to whistle the tune of “being in the hit list of LTTE” for their political survival.
Devananda had prided himself as a survivor of the 1983 Welikade prison massacre of Tamils by the Sinhalese Establishment. It stands to reason to ask him, whose hit list he escaped in 1983? Since March 2004, the fence-sitting sour-grape Sangaree, the current holder of an empty TULF throne, picked up the same tune of “being in the hit list of LTTE” to whistle, when his political perfidy came to be exposed.
I also noticed that while sin-eaters like Kadirgamar, Devananda and Sangaree had voluntarily promoted their selfish interests by whistling the tune of “being in the hit list of LTTE”, even some sensible individuals like Sonia Gandhi who didn’t give a hoot about such “hit list of LTTE” were unwillingly portrayed as purported targets of such a hit list. This happened after the Supreme Court verdict on Rajiv Gandhi assassination trial was released in May 1999. Having been humbled by the not-so favourable verdict delivered by the three Supreme Court Justices Wadhwa, Thomas and Quadri, the RAW’s pundits elevated Rajiv Gandhi’s widow Sonia’s name into LTTE’s purported hit list.
The anti-LTTE pontificator D.B.S.Jeyaraj swallowed the RAW’s rope lock stock and barrel, to wail that Sonia Gandhi’s life is in danger from LTTE. In a shameful piece of self-indulging servility to RAW’s pundits, Jeyaraj sobbed as follows: “…the potential danger to Sonia Gandhi from the LTTE is always there. That threat is something that cannot be disregarded as improbable. Therefore, it would be prudent for the authorities to provide maximum security to Sonia Gandhi and also exercise a constant vigil in this respect.” [‘Sonia and the Tigers’, Frontline magazie, July 3-16, 1999] Happily for all of us, now six years later, Sonia Gandhi is still alive and kicking.
I presume that having entered the House of [Indira] Gandhi following her marriage to Rajiv, Sonia had attuned herself to the antics of toadies among politicians, bureaucrats and media mongrels. In the 1970s and 1980s, her mother-in-law and her husband were in numerous hit lists of local and foreign origin. Sonia also witnessed with her own eyes, when Rajiv was hit in Colombo and humiliated by a JVP-symopathizing naval rating in 1987, while being hosted as a state guest of the Government of Sri Lanka. Its rather hilarious that the pundits of RAW (who were peddling the LTTE hit list to the media in 1990s) couldn’t forsee that the Indian prime minister was also on the hit list of JVP in 1987!
Essence of Hit Lists
Having been an interested watcher of released political hit lists in the media for over a decade, here are the synopses of my findings.
(1) For iconoclasts, to be on the hit list of a state’s intelligence set up is a badge of honor. Fidel Castro was on CIA’s hit list. Yasser Arafat was on MOSSAD’s hit list. Pirabhakaran has been on RAW’s as well as Sri Lankan intelligence gang’s hit list.
(2) Every intelligence agency worth its salt has to have a hit list. Research reveals that the most successful hit list holding agency was Israel’s MOSSAD. It culled quite a number of the heads of PLO’s deputies.
(3) Some prominent individuals land in more than one hit list, and when they indeed get hit, it’ll be almost impossible to find out whose hit list did the job. For example, President J.F.Kennedy was purportedly on many hit lists [that of KGB, Castro, Mafia, Oswald, Ruby etc.] and who was the real culprit still remains a puzzle.
The same was true for Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi as well.
Here is Jain Commission Report on Rajiv Gandhi’s landing in many hit lists. To quote,
“Available material before the Commission suggests that Shri Rajiv Gandhi was facing extremely grave threats from Sri Lankan Tamil militants and their Indian sympathisers, fanatic Sinhala elements of Sri Lanka, Sikh terrorists operating from Punjab as well as foreign countries, Kashmiri militant groups operating from India as well as foreign countries, Afghan Mujahideens, Islamic fundamentalists from Pakistan, certain groups within the Government of Pakistan, some groups connected with the Royal Family of Nepal, terrorist elements operating from North Eastern India, notably ULFA and aggrieved individual elements. There were also hints of certain outside powers involving themselves with some of these hostile forces.” [Jain Commission Report, August 1997, vol.3, chapter 3].
(4) As for any commodity, hit lists are of two types; the real and the fake. Simple common sense dictates that if LTTE indeed has a hit list, it cannot continue to be a lively organization, if its purported hit list is in the files of every media organization [Also see below, the note on Karuna.]
(5) Fake hit lists are very much in demand in the political theater.
(6) Fake hit lists are mostly manufactured by lazy crooks in the media, from the feeds of underground skunks.
(7) Crooked politicians who’ll lick anybody’s feet to advance their careers [a good example now is V.Anandasangaree, who now prides about his past association with the Trotskyist Sinhalese leaders and his current links to the racist Jathika Hela Urumaya] make use of fake hit lists to gain sympathy and attention of the media.
(8) It is worthwhile to remind memory-challenged politicians like Anandasangaree that the rowdy elements of Sinhalese dominated Governments of Sri Lanka have viciously targeted prominent fighters of Tamil rights since 1956, when Pirabhakaran was a toddler. Just a few examples.
On whose hit list was the then young Federal Party MP, A.Amirthalingam in 1956 when he was hit in Galle Face Green during satyagraha campaign? On whose hit list was the then TULF MP, V.Yogeswaran in 1981, when his Jaffna house was burnt in conjuction with the worst bibliocaust in recent Asian history? On whose hit list was the TULF President M.Sivasithamparam in 1983 anti-Tamil riots, when his rented Colombo house was attacked? On whose hit list was G.G.(Kumar) Ponnambalam in 2000, when he was assassinated?
(9) As for LTTE’s purported hit list, how come Karuna – a high ranking LTTE insider for more than a decade according to media blurbs - could not reveal it’s details last year [or until now] to the news-hungry media in Colombo and Chennai, while he was throwing mud on everything which has happened in LTTE under Pirabhakaran? Only two inferences can be made. Either, there is no LTTE hit list, or Karuna was not a ranking LTTE insider.
(10) No human in this world can escape from one real hit list – that of Grim Reaper. Ask Vazhapadi Ramamurthy who has to answer the summons in October 2002.