all towns are one, all men our kin.
|Home||Whats New||Trans State Nation||One World||Unfolding Consciousness||Comments||Search|
Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > International Frame of Struggle for Tamil Eelam > India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Rajiv Gandhi Assassination - the Verdict > Rajiv Gandhi - Arujan Sittampalam Meeting in March 1991 >Who really killed Rajiv Gandhi? - Norman Baker 1992 > Rajiv Gandhi - the Secret Trial - Nadesan Satyendra, 1992 > Rajiv Gandhi's Assassination: Transnational Connections - Major General Asfir Karim, 1993 > Rajiv Gandhi Assassination: Highlights of Complex Plot, India Today Report, 1996 > Jain Commission Report on Rajiv Gandhi Assassination 1997 > Prabhu Chawla on Jain Commission Report, 1997 > India's lack on grit on Tamil Tigers led to Rajiv assassination says Jyotindra Nath Dixit, 1997 > Who killed Olof Palme and Rajiv Gandhi?, 1997 > International appeals against verdict in Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Trial, 1998/99 > Accused in Rajiv case not given fair Trial - Law Committee, 1999 > Triumph of Truth – The Rajiv Gandhi Assassination – The Investigation, by D.R.Kaarthikeyan and Radhavinod Raju - Book Review by Sachi Sri Kantha, 2004
India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam
Rajiv Gandhi's Assassination: Transnational
excerpts from Transnational Terrorism - The Danger in the South
Major General Afsir Karim,
Lancer Paper 5, Lancer International, 1993 (pages 34 to 57)
"The charge sheet filed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case is a lengthy and comprehensive document. However it basically seeks to establish the following 'facts':
(i) Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a LTTE hit team headed by one Sivarasan on the orders of V. Prabhakaran the LTTE leader.
(ii) The details of the assassination plot were worked out by Pottu Amman, the intelligence chief of the LTTE and Akhila of the women's wing of the LTTE, and approved by V. Prabhakaran.
The LTTE's action was attributed to an organisational motive. The assassination was planned because it was feared that Rajiv Gandhi's return to power will harm the LTTE's interests. Also, Prabhakaran seemed to bear a personal grudge against Rajiv Gandhi since 1986, when he was detained at Tamil Nadu House in New Delhi and was pressurised by Rajiv Gandhi before the SAARC summit in 1986.
It has also been stated in the report that the assassination was planned to wreak vengeance on the former Prime Minister for his Sri Lankan policy which committed India to maintain the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka. Rajiv Gandhi's equating the LTTE with other Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups had also irked Prabhakaran. It was also intended to avenge the atrocities committed by the IPKF on unarmed civilians during operations in Jaffna and the Eastern Province and the act of the handing over of 17 prominent LTTE leaders by the Indian government to the Sri Lankan authorities in October 1987, leading to the suicide of 12 of them. It has also been mentioned in the report that the assassination was intended to create instability in India.
The SIT report consists of some 1000 pages. It names 41 accused persons and reconstructs the sequence of events and the role played by each accused person. It has successfully established the LTTE's connection with the assassination. The assassins--Dhanu, Sivarasan and his team--were hardcore LTTE cadres and the Indians involved in the case were also staunch LTTE supporters. However, the motives of the crime listed by the SIT are not very convincing. It should have been obvious to all LTTE leaders and supporters that after this crime, the LTTE would be hounded out of India, leading to adverse consequences on the battle front in Sri Lanka.
The LTTE's hope that Rajiv Gandhi's assassination would destabilise India seems too far fetched. Prabhakaran and others in the LTTE had witnessed that even Indira Gandhi's assassination (though she was in power) had failed to destabilise India. The one thing that Prabhakaran and his organisation could be sure of was that the LTTE would lose support in India. It is therefore necessary to examine the real or probable motives of the assassination to ascertain why Rajiv Gandhi was killed.
The important question is why he was killed and not which tool was used to commit the crime.
Before we examine some possible motives behind the assassination, a brief look at the mechanics employed and the team which committed or assisted in the crime, may help the reader to understand the situation better. Various press reports and the SIT chief have called it a totally blind case and most difficult to solve in many respects. According to the SIT chief, "nowhere in the history of investigation has such a situation been faced by anybody".
A close study of the case from the SIT charge-sheet would suggest that once a camera with its film roll was found intact at the assassination site, the identity of the main conspirators was not difficult to establish. The photographs taken by Han Babu of Sivarasan, Dhanu, Subha and Nalini gave a clear lead to the SIT and no great ingenuity was required to establish their LTTE connection. A close scrutiny of the facts indicates a clumsy, chancy plan of assassination which could have failed for any number of reasons. The fact that two vital clues, the photographs and the remains of the bomb belt, were left behind at the scene of crime showed that this was the work of an amateur network. At times one is tempted to believe that the leaving behind of such evidence was a part of the plan--done on purpose by a third agency which might have been in league with the LTTE in the assassination plot but wanted that the LTTE should take the blame and no further investigations should take place.
However, a major achievement of the SIT and local police teams was to trace the various LTTE connections and track down the LTTE operatives in their dens. This was a major setback for the future operations of the LTTE in India (whatever they were). The major failure of the SIT and other police agencies was their inability to catch the main culprits and witnesses alive. This does not reflect well on our methods and shows a lack of coordination among various police agencies.
The plan of assassination, as indicated by the SIT report, was made sometime in April-May 1990 and Sivarasan was selected by the LTTE hierarchy to execute the plan. The ball was set rolling in September 1990, with a small family group landing at Rameswaram. It consisted of Vijayam, (an LTTE man) his wife Selvalakshmi and Bhaskaran, his father-in-law. This was a small contact team which registered itself as refugees in the Tuticorin refugee camp. They later moved into a rented house in Madras and established local contacts. A few weeks later a second group reached Madras. Jayakumar, his wife Shanti and Robert Payas (LTTE) comprised this group. They rented a house in Pouru, a Madras suburb. Local contacts were established by these teams and preliminary arrangements to harbour the killer squad were made.
Murugan, an LTTE militant was sent to Madras in February 1991 to establish contact and befriend the family of Nalini. This local family consisted of three members, Nalini, Padma (Nalini's mother) and Bhagyanathan (Nalini's brother). Murugan later married Nalini. Murugan's main task was to act as a link between this family and Sivarasan. The local contacts were now fully activated and reconnaissance and planning were done; Perarivalan alias Arun, a DK activist, played a major role as he helped in the assembling of the bomb components and setting up a radio communications network for Sivarasan. Han Babu, a local photographer, was brought into the circle by Bhagyanathan, Nalini's brother. Han Babu worked in the studio of 'Sudha' Sundaram, a free lance photo-journalist in Madras.
Ravichandran alias Ravi, leader of the Tamil National Retrieval Force and his deputy, Mahesh, also established contact with the group. Ravi, it seems, visited Jaffna thrice in December 1990 and Sivarasan also travelled frequently to Jaffna. He finally returned in early May 1991 with the main killer squad--Dhanu, Subha (both hardcore LTTE women) and five others. They landed at the coastal village of Kodia Kadu near Vedaranyam where they stayed with Shanmugam, a smuggler and an LTTE contact man. The assorted group which was assembled and worked in close coordination till the assassination was as follows:
Suicide squad leader (committed suicide at Banglore on 20 August 1991 in order to evade arrest)
Dhanu (alias Kalairani)
The Assassin (Died in the blast on 21 May 1991)
LTTE member (committed suicide along with Sivarasan at Bangaiore on 20 August 1991).
Indian photographer (Died in the bomb blast on 21 May1991 while taking photographs of the assassination)
Neru (alias Gokul)
Sivanasan’s bodyguard and radio operator; communicated several times with Prabhakaran (committed suicide at Banglore on 20 August 1991 to evade arrest)
Nalini, Bhagyanathan Padma
LTTE militant (in custody)
Indians Nalini later married Murugan and bore his child (in custody)
LTTE activist close to Sivarasan (in custody): supposed to be involved in the killing of Padmanabhan and party of the EPRLF in Madras in May 1990.
Shankar alias Koneswaran Vijayanandan Sivaruban alias Suresh Kumar
LTTE men: accomplices of Sivarasan (All in Custody)
Chief of LTTE’s operations in India (committed suicide at Tiruchi to evade arrest)
Shanmugham alias Thambi Anna
LTTE financer (in custody)
Septuagenarian Sri Lankan LTTE sympathiser: Made escape plans for the killer squad (in custody)
Jaykumar, his wife Shanti and Robert Payas
LTTE support group in Madras (All in custody)
Vijayam, his wife Selvalakshmi, his Father-in-Law, Bhaskar
LTTE support group in Madras (All in custody)
Indian smuggler and LTTE supporter (committed suicide while under SIT custody under peculiar circumstances)
(Radio communication expert)
All LTTE men (all committed suicide to evade arrest)
Driver and body guard of Sivarasan and Subha
TNRF Deputy leader (Both in custody)
Peranivalan alias Ariru
DK activist helped in assembling of bomb (in custody)
DK activist caught with a letter from Gundu Santhan to v. Prabhakaran (in custody)
Indian freelance photo-journalist helped the killer squad (in custody)
DK activist: fleet operator helped Sivarasan escape in tanker lorry to Bangalore (in custody)
LTTE supporter: arranged fake passports, harboured Sivarasan, Dhanu and Subha (in custody)
Run-up to the Assassination
On 7 May 1991 Sivarasan, Dhanu, Haribabu, Nalini, Perarivalan and Murugan carried out a dry run at a meeting addressed by VP Singh at Madras. They noted the various loopholes in the security arrangements and also found some shortcomings in their own methods. Dhanu was unable to garland VP Singh on the dais; only when VP Singh came down from the dais was Dhanu able to get near enough to hand over the garland to him. Nalini and Haribabu could not take photographs of Dhanu's actions as planned.
One can assume that these loopholes in the plan were tightened and that is why Dhanu approached Rajiv Gandhi before he reached the dais. Perhaps Han Babu came far too close for safety to photograph Dhanu's action and was killed in the blast, otherwise he would have escaped with the camera intact.
Sivarasan came to know of Rajiv Gandhi's programme on 19 May 1991. The plan to kill him was finalised on 20 May at Bhagyanathan-Nalini's house. The whole killer squad attended this meeting. In addition Perarivalan was also present. It seems Perarivalan (a DK activist) played an active role. He instructed Han Babu to take the photographs and send them to B Prabhakaran; he bought dry battery cells for activating the explosive device and he also provided the batteries for the radio set established for communications with Jaffna.
On 21 May, Subha and Dhanu left Vijayam's house at Kodungaiyur with the explosive device. Sivarasan started from Jayakumars house, picked up Nalini enroute and joined Subha and Dhanu. Han Babu brought a sandalwood garland and met the trio at the busy 'Parry's Corner'. Sivarasan was dressed in a pyjama-kurta combination while Dhanu wore a churidar ensemble with the belt-bomb under her kameez. The five took a bus to Sriperumbudur, about 50 kms away at 7.30 p.m.
When Rajiv Gandhi reached the venue of the meeting, it was 10 pm. By then Dhanu with the garland in hand had positioned herself between Latha Kannan, a Congress (I) worker and her daughter Kokila. Rajiv Gandhi's last act was to pet Kokila on her back after she had recited a poem in his honour. By then Dhanu had got close enough to detonate the bomb. The explosion killed Rajiv Gandhi, Dhanu the assassin and I-Ian Babu the photographer. Sixteen other people also died in the blast.
To reconstruct the outline of the crime:
Rajiv Gandhi was killed on 21 May 1991 in an explosion at Sriperumbudur, 50 kms away from Madras, where he was to address a public meeting. The explosion was caused by a belt-bomb carried by Dhanu, the LTTE militant, around her waist under her clothes.
The crime upto the stage of the actual explosion was shot by Han Babu, an Indian photographer. His camera was later retrieved from the scene of the blast. The developed photographs from the film roll inside this camera showed Dhanu standing in between Latha Kannan and Kokila and Sivarasan with a pad standing near Latha Kannan. The last photograph shows Rajiv Gandhi listening to Kokiia's poem while Dhanu, the assassin, stands close behind Kokila.
The position of Sivanasan, Subha and Nalini is not exactly known. Han Babu took his last photograph from a place few yards away, standing behind and slightly to the right of Dhanu. Sivarasan, Subha and Nalini survived the blast and fled the scene of the crime. They reached Madras by autorickshaw. Sivarasan and Subha left for Tiruchi and were hiding there for a week. It has been mentioned in the SIT report that Nenu, the LTTE radio operator communicated the developments to Pottu Amman, the LTTE intelligence chief by radio from the Vijayam's house in Madras.
The conspiracy angle of the assassination, has not been touched upon in the SIT report.This requires further investigation. It seems that Sivarasan was in touch with some agencies in Sweden, Singapore, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. There could be an international conspiracy to eliminate Rajiv Gandhi; on the other hand, the above mentioned foreign contacts of Sivarasan may have only been for the procurement of arms and finances for the LTTE's operations against Sri Lankan security forces.
However, any man who was to be used for the assassination by the LTTE was unlikely to be given other long term responsibilites of a permanent nature in India abroad. Obviously much more is required to be known about Sivarasan and his foreign connections. Merely establishing the fact that he was in charge of the assassination plot does not go far enough; the CBI and SIT seem to have taken a single pronged approach of nailing the LTTE.
All leads have been taken from the photographic evidence left on the scene of the blast. The question that arises is why was the event being photographed at all? Who could have benefited from this photographic evidence? How could the LTTE leadership be sure that this damning evidence would not fall in the wrong hands (as it did). Another question is why were Sivarasan and Subha, who could provide damning evidence against the LTTE and its leaders, neither killed by the LTTE after the event or taken out of India. After all, they were hiding in Tiruchi for a full week after the assassination. Why did the LTTE abandon Sivarasan and Subha? Then again, why were such a large number of accomplices used for the job? In a plot of this nature, only the minimum number of people necessary would normally have known the actual role of the LTTE.
Yasser Arafat is reported to have warned Rajiv Gandhi, about a month before the event, of a conspiracy to eliminate him. If this is true, what did he actually tell Rajiv Gandhi. Who else was informed and what action, if any, was taken to protect Rajiv Gandhi onto probe the matter further? Justice Jam, who is inquiring into the conspiracy angle of the assassination may come up with some answers.
However, as happened in the case of President Kennedy's assassination, on that of Martin Luther King's, it may not be easy to establish the conspiracy theory. Even the motives of the assassination of Olaf Palme, then Swedish Prime Minister, remain obscure till today. As I have mentioned earlier, the primary question is why was Rajiv Gandhi killed and not that who killed him. The LTTE men could be merely tools to execute the plot. Here we examine a few factors which may throw some light on the possible motives for assassinating Rajiv Gandhi. It is necessary to analyse all possible motives of the various agencies/countries who could be interested in eliminating Rajiv Gandhi or who could have derived major benefits from nemovinç him from the political scene.
We will examine some probable angles here to get a comparative view of various factors, agencies and their motives for assassinating Rajiv Gandhi. We start with the LTTE, the prime accused:
The LTTE has been accused of assassinating Rajiv Gandhi because of his policies towards the LTTE since 1987. We will briefly examine what the LTTE stood to gain or lose from this action and whether the reasons or motives suggested by the SIT are strong enough for the LTTE to ignore the adverse fallout of this action. Possible advantages and disadvantages of the LiThE's complicity with the assassination have been discussed below.
Possible Motives and Incentives
o A long term agreement for the supply of sophisticated weapons by the agencies which conspired with the LTTE to eliminate Rajiv Gandhi.
o Great financial gain for the LTTE through payments made by the conspiring agencies or country
o Pnomiseoof political, financial and military assistance to achieve Tamil Eelam by a country/countries through intelligence agencies/third parties.
It will be noted that the major advantages mentioned above could provide a sufficiently strong motivation for the LTTE to get involved in the assassination. However all such advantages could only be gained in case of an international conspiracy. But these advantages would be neutralised by major disadvantages which would result due to the LTTEs direct involvement in the assassination, if discovered.
Disadvantages and Disincentives
o Loss of logistical bases and sanctuaries in India: a major setback which could force the LTTE to capitulate against the Sri Lankan armed onslaught.
o Extra vigilance by the Indian Navy, Coast Guards and Police would make smuggling of arms and equipment into Jaffna difficult.
o Loss of influence and reputation in the international arena leading to a denial of political patronage and a stoppage of financial assistance. (All these could cause
the curtailment of financial assistance and arms supply to the LTTE
o The halo round Prabhakaran's head as a brave freedom fighter would be shattered. He would be exposed as a fascist-terrorist leader.
It will be obvious from an examination of the adverse factors listed above that the LiThE was likely to be a major loser due to its involvement in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination. If continuous pressure is now exerted by India against the LiThE, their struggle for Tamil Eelam may suffer a great setback: even greater than during the IPKF operations against the LTTE and Rajiv Gandhi's tilt towards Jayewardene and Colombo in 1987/88.
Would it, therefore, be reasonable to believe that a truly intelligent organisation like the LTTE would jeopardise its main struggle and political aims just to take revenge against the person of Rajiv Gandhi? Although many a time fascist organisations arrange for their own destruction; this cannot be considered a cogent argument here. It must be accepted thatthe LTTE had much to lose by its involvement in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.
Next let us examine whether any international agency or country stood to gain any major political advantage by removing Rajiv Gandhi from the political scene. On the face of it, no country would gain very much. Rajiv Gandhi was not in power and his assassination could not possibly destabilise the country. Indian democracy has shown great resilience during various crises, including the brutal assassination of Indira Gandhi, a powerful Prime Minister. However, we should examine this aspect from other angles as well. Suppose Rajiv Gandhi was in touch with some country on agency and he gave it/them certain promises on assurances in anticipation of coming into power after the election these promises clashed with the interests of some other countries or agencies.
Mr Chavan, the Union Home Minister, has hinted more than once that Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated because of a conspiracy between some powers who wanted to destabilise India. He told PTI on 4 June 1992 "at least I have no doubt in my mind that this (Rajiv Gandhi's assassination) cannot just be the handiwork of the LTTE unless they have support". This observation was in response to a question whether Pakistan was involved in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination. Mr Chavan is reported to have stated earlier in Parliament that a super power was involved in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination. He retracted this statement later, perhaps when he was reminded that the only super power in the world was the USA. These statements notwithstanding, no country seems to have a strong interest in killing Rajiv Gandhi. According to the SIT, however, Rajiv Gandhi's LTTE killers had received assistance from Tamils based in Malaysia and Singapore.
We will now examine the possible motives of our two neighbours who have had longstanding problems with India.
Pakistan: It can be said that Pakistan wants to weaken or destabilise India, but by killing Rajiv Gandhi, it could not hope to achieve this objective. Any government or leadership replacing Rajiv Gandhi in India would take a tougher stand vis-a-vis Pakistan, in view of its support to the Punjab and J&K insurgents. When Zia-ul-Haq was killed in an air crash, many in Pakistan pointed an accusing finger at India. Now it is well known that India had nothing to do with the crash. Similarly, Pakistan had nothing much to gain from eliminating Rajiv Gandhi.
Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka had problems with Rajiv Gandhi but he firmly stood for Sri Lanka's unity and integrity; therefore, on the face of it, Sri Lanka had little to gain from Rajiv Gandhi's assassination. There is a theory however, that Sri Lanka had a motive in discrediting the LTTE. Let us suppose that in the reported meeting with LTTE representative in Madras, (just before his assassination), Rajiv Gandhi gave an assurance that he would, when in power, help the LTTE in creating the Tamil Eelam. If these parleys were leaked out, Sri Lanka could have had a motive of a kind; but this theory too is weak on many other counts. Rajiv Gandhi, on the other hand, might have threatened or insulted the LiThE representatives, which would have angered the LiThE sufficiently to assassinate him before the elections.
None of the above theories regarding the involvement of a third country seem convincing. Also, in addition to the LTTE, some transnational agencies could have been interested in eliminating Rajiv Gandhi. He was under threat from Sikh extremists functioning abroad. He had been under threat from J&K extremists as well. Also, it is possible that an international arms cartel' could have been interested in preventing Rajiv Gandhi from coming to power. This theory too, is rather far fetched; but it might be examined none the less.
It might be recalled that there is a theory that President Kennedy was assassinated by an 'arms Mafia' because he had wanted to end America's involvement in Vietnam, which would have affected the fortunes of these rich and powerful men. The point here is that 'arms cartels have in the past played dubious roles in the assassination of political leaders.
There is a strong belief in certain circles that Olaf Palme, the Swedish Prime Minister, was also eliminated by a strong arms sales lobby, possibly in connection with the Bofors deal with India. Could there be a possible connection between Palme's and Rajiv Gandhi's assassinations? According to this theory, Rajiv Gandhi too could have been the target of an arms cartel', one way or other. Other powerful lobbies who feared that they would suffer significant financial losses if Ra]iv Gandhi came to power, or someone who feared 'disclosures' and loss of trade, could have conspired to kill Rajiv Gandhi.
Let us examine the Bofors connection as a matter interest in order to determine whether an arms dealers lobby could be interested in killing Rajiv Gandhi.
In September 1985, Rajiv Gandhi had taken over the Defence portfolio. It was during that autumn that he and Olaf Palme met in New York during the celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the UN. The message from one prime minister to the other was 'remove' all middlemen' in the Bofors deal. On January 15, 1986, Olaf Palme arrived in India on a visit. He stayed at the Maurya Sheraton hotel in a VIP suite; the Bofors delegation, then negotiating the Howitzer deal in New Delhi, was also resident on the same floor of that hotel.
On 22 January 1986, Palme left for Europe in a Boeing 747; Martin Ardbo, the Bofors boss, was also travelling on the same plane. Palme was assassinated on 28 February 1986. The public prosecutor, Lars Ringberg, during interrogation, asked Arbdo to break his silence and to reveal the names of the persons who were behind the companies to whom Bofors had paid bribes. Arbdo held Palme responsible for his silence as "Palme himself was deeply involved in this deal". He also insinuated that the Swedish government would probably fall if Palme's involvement was revealed. All this points at Palme's involvement with the Bofors deal and the possible connection between his assassination and this deal. Is it not possible then that some 'middlemen' who were removed as commission agents by Rajiv Gandhi, had become his mortal enemies? Those who feared his return to power could have collaborated and conspired with the LTTE to kill Rajiv Gandhi before he could come to power; but such a theory, without any evidence, must be regarded as a mere conjecture.
The Jam Commission has been enjoined to inquire whether one person or persons or agencies were responsible for conceiving, preparing, and planning the assassination and whether there was any conspiracy in this regard, and if so, bring out, all its ramifications'. The prospects that the Justice M C JaTh Commission will arrive at a definite conclusion are remote.
The terms of reference, it seems, have been dusted out of late Indira Gandhi's assassination file. However, Mr Justice Jam proposes to make the 'SIT' serve the Commission and make its own independent findings. He has appointed his own investigation team headed by a selected IG from the CBI who is fluent in Tamil. It is expected that the IG might come up with the leads missed by the SIT. Thus far, the Jam Commission seems to have made little headway. It is believed that the bureaucrats and the CBI are dragging their feet. Political parties have signed their affadavits but the Centre is reported to be delaying matters. Such conduct is typical of the bureaucracy, and to an extent it is inevitable.
Political Friction in Tamil Nadu
Terrorism and insurgent movements thrive in conditions of political flux and intrigues. Repression of political opponents or a segment of the population generates turmoil and chaos. An authoritarian regime with a penchant for repression provides a fertile ground for separatist movements and political violence. All the above elements are present in Tamil Nadu today. Corruption, political vendetta, and suppression of the media complete this dismal picture. The notification of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention act (TADA) in Tamil Nadu has provided the requisite ammuntion to the government to settle scores with political opponents and the press. In addition, certain laws of colonial times have been resurrected vis, the archaic Seditious Meetings (Prevention) Act of 1911 in conjunction with the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.
These acts have lately been used to put various protestors behind the bars for merely raising slogans against price rise or the lack of basic amenities. Hired hoodlums have been used to ransack offices of those newspapers which have been even mildly critical of the government. The case of th~ee journaiists, one of whom was the Information Bureau chief (South) of the Illustrated Weekly of India, on the Legislative privilege issue, shows that the Government of Tamil Nadu is prepared to use every possible weapon to attack the freedom of press.
The appointment of the Siva Subramanian Commission against Karunanidhi, the DMK's President, is generally considered an example of political vendetta.
The actions and attitudes of the government are bound to create serious political rifts and the law and order situation. is bound to deteriorate as a consequence. Once the political battle is carried to the streets, the terrorist-insurgent groups will step in to take advantage of the situation. The Tamil Nadu Government has grouped the LTTE and the DMK together by making them both targets of repression, and this may hinder effective action against the real hardcore supporters of the LTTE. All political leaders, including Ms Jayalalitha, had supported the LiThE before Rajiv Gandhi's assassination but the arrest of a former DMK minister and her husband in January 1992 under TADA for willfully aiding, assisting and harbouring LTTE cadres who had participated in the Padmanabhan (EPRLF) killing, is clearly a case of political vendetta against the DMK.
The TNCC has alleged, in an affidavit filed before the Jam Commission, that the Sri Lankan President Mr Premadasa, the DMK Chief, Karunanidhi and, V P Singh, former Prime Minister of India, were a 'common enemy' of Rajiv Gandhi. The affidavit charged the DMK with aiding and abetting the LTTE and made the following allegations against various leaders and the DMK government:
o Fixing of a public meeting at Sriperumbudur and its subsequent cancellation were 'deliberate acts on the part of Karunanidhi on 21 May'; thus insinuating DMK's connection with Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.
o Encouragement and support given by Karunanidhi, when he was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, to the LTTE resulted in setting up of ULFA camps in Tamil Nadu.
o Various militant groups vis ULFA, J&K and Punjab terrorists
which posed a threat to Rajiv Gandhi's life were allowed to establish close links with the LTTE in Tamil Nadu when the DMK was in power.
o All intelligence and information received from central agencies by the DMK government was passed on to the
o LTTE camps were allowed to continue at various places in Tamil Nadu where Tamil youths, particularly the cadres of (DK), were trained by the LTTE in guerrilla warfare.
o Both Mr Premadasa and Mr Prabhakaran were much alarmed when it became apparent that Rajiv Gandhi would come back to power after the general elections, and India would become a superpower in the region once again.
These allegations and counter allegations reflect the state of confrontation among the various political parties in Tamil Nadu which may deepen the schisms leading to further polarisation and turmoil. If there is any truth in the charges and counter charges being traded among the various politicians, a large segment of Tamil Nadu's population must be fervent supporters of the Tamil Eelam and the LTTE.
However, most such allegations seem to be based, not on facts, but on mutual animosity and irresponsible rhetoric.
What should be realised is that a similar climate of political confrontation preceded the political upheavals and turmoil in Punjab, Assam and J&K. The battle lines are becoming increasingly blurred since Subramaniam Swamy, President of the Janata Party, in collusion with some Congressmen, has opened a front against Jayalalitha. She has been accused of making secret contact with the LTTE in Singapore and Paris to seek protection for herself in return for relaxing curbs against the LTTE, now in force in TamiI Nadu. According to Subramaniam Swamy, the protection deal was finally struck in Paris in June 1992. He has alleged that the revival of the smuggling of supplies to Jaffna was a part of this deal.
S Thirunavukerash of the DMK too has alleged that Jayaialitha was seeking 'protection' in return for the slackening of vigilance against the LiThE. Jayalalitha denies all these allegations, calling Swamy a pathological liar. She has also denied a statement made by G K Moopanar of the Congress that subversive elements were active again in Tamil Nadu and that the Centre had sent a note to her in this connection. Tamil Nadu Special Investigation Team (TANSIT) havefiled a charge sheet (after eight months) before S M Siddick, the designated Judge in the Padmanabhan murder case, naming aformer DMK minister Subhalakshmi Jagdeesan, the former Home Secretary V Nagarajan, Jagdeesan (Subhalakshmi's husband), andy Ramachandran, a brother of the DMK's M P Gopalaswami alongwith the several LiThE men--Vis Pottu Amman and Sivarasan. These LiThE men had also figured prominently in the SIT charge sheet in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. TANS IT also filed a chargesheet on 26 August 1992 against Pottu Am man and 31 others for forming the Tamil National Retrieval Troops (TNRT) with the aim of dismembering Tamil Nadu from India.
It is evident that the politics of Tamil Nadu is getting murkier and increasingly entangled with the dangerous transnational political initiatives of the LiThE. By now Jayalaiitha's main election plank, the anti-LiThE stance, has been played out and the various charges of corruption and nepotism being levelled against her are having affect. In her frustration, she is lashing out against the press and the opposition leaders, regardless of the consequences.
This political witchhunt has crippled the administration of Tamil Nadu and demoralised the civil services. When VIP security and intelligence gathering about opposition leaders' activity take top priority, the law and order situation is bound to deteriorate. No wonder the crime rate in Tamil Nadu has shown a sharp rise. In the six southern districts of Kanyakuman, Kamarjar, Chidambaram, Tirenevali, Kattahomrnan and Ramanathapuram, criminal gangs supported by politicians, liquor barons and crime syndicates loot temples and jewelry shops with impunity.
The police is becoming cynical and indifferent because of the political patronage enjoyed by the criminals and smugglers. The police brutality against the common man however, is on the increase. Policemen who have indulged in gang rape, looting and other brutal acts have generally gone unpunished because the government machinery is insensitive to the issues affecting the common man. The public distribution system is reported to be in inefficient and corrupt hands; therefore, there is an artificial shortage of essential commodities like rice, kerosine oil and palm oil. The low income group has been hit by such shortages and the number of disgruntled elements is increasing. Cutting the quota of rice from 20 kg to 12 kg and an increase in bus fares have led to several violent demonstrations.
All these developments are creating conditions of discontent and administrative collapse. It is well known that terrorists and insurgents, thrive under such conditions. Are we going to allow these conditions to continue till an Assam- like situation develops here and the LTTE has the last laugh? The activities of the pro-LTTE elements are also on the increase and show a certain renewed vigour at the grassroots level. Unless the overall political climate improves such activities will go unchecked. AIADMK and Congressmen seem hell bent in, involving the DMK in the assassination case. In an affadivit filed before the Jam Commission, K Ramamurthy MP (Congress) has urged that the real conspirators behind the killing of Rajiv Gandhi must be exposed. According to him, Rajiv Gandhi was facing a combined threat from the LTTE, ULFA, J&K and Punjab terrorists. He also alleged that the DMK government's actions were responsible for the establishment of LTTE camps at Nemmakhaadu, Udumpalet in Coimbatore district, where guerrilla warfare training was given to Tamil youths; specially those with affiliations with the DK
At the other end of the spectrum, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) openly urges the Centre to call for a new Constituent Assembly for incorporating the right of self determination in the Constitution. In a mass rally after a three day conference on 'Tamil Rights' the PMK displayed huge cut outs' of V. Prabhakaran and Dhanu--Rajiv's assassin.
They characterised the government's actions of forcibly repatriating Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka as anti-Tamil.
They demanded that the government should condemn the atrocities being committed against the Tamils in Sri Lanka by the Sinhalese armed forces. They blamed the government for ignoring Tamil sentiments in the case of the Cauvery waters dispute and the Kachchativu Island issue. Dr Ramdoss, the party chief, alleged that Hindi was being imposed on Tamil Nadu through TV and Radio programmes. Panruti S Ramachandran (the lone PMK member in the Legislative Assembly in Tamil Nadu) wanted the government to recognise the reality of Tamil Eelam. When violence erupted during the arrest of various PMK leaders, it disrupted normal life all over
The PMK was founded five years ago as an offshoot of the Vanniar Sangham. Initially, as the name suggests, the
party was to espouse the cause of the proleteriat, but slowly it embraced the Tamil cause in its entirety. Its manifesto demanded a 'Tamil Eelam in India. The pro-Dravidian sentiments propagated by the PMK enjoy wide-spread support, though the idea of Tamil Eelam is not widely supported. The arrest of Dr Ramdoss in September 1992 on charges of sedition and conspiracy etc. After the PMK rally was generally resented in Tamil Nadu. Incoli's (then Union Minister for Home Affairs) threat of banning the 'PMK' for its separatist philosophy and the crackdown on its cadres had forced many party workers to go underground and this drove them
right into the lap o~ the LTTE. Some other smaller radical groups like the Tam~l National movement, Tamil Desyia Poduvidem Katchi and Dalipan Maran (named after the LTTE leader who fasted unto death in Sri Lanka in 1978) support the PMK fully and the DMK is also suspected of giving covert support to the PMK and other radical Tamil organisations. Presently any further crack-down on these parties is bound to lead to violence that can only serve the purposes of the separatists groups.
The LTTE activities in Tamil Nadu, though subdued, are still progressing along a set pattern. The smuggling activities in the coastal areas facing Jaffna have been revived. Food and fuel is reported to be moving to Jaffna again from the districts of Nagapattinam Qaid-e-millat, Thanjavur and Ramanathapuram. The 200 kms long coast line here is watched over by Navai detachments located at Nagapattinam, Arcothurai, and Point Calimera. CRPF detachments are also located hereto check inland smuggling. However, smuggling still continues as one litre of diesel can fetch more than Rs. 1500 in Jaffna. Small fibre glass boats without board motors slip across most barriers unnoticed; these boats carry 500 litres of diesel and use inland waterways where larger police
boats cannot pursue them.
A shoot out at Madhuvan refugee camp showed that the LTTE and its supporters still dare to use arms against the police. In this incident a police inspector, Krishnaswamy, was shot dead and a constable and an autorikshaw driver were fired upon. The assailant used a .45 calibre rifle generally usually used by LTTE cadres. The assailant, it is believed was Aruna', an LTTE militant wanted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
The Tamil Nadu government has threatened to deport all Sri Lankan refugees not registered in the authorised refugee camps; over 2,00,000 would still remain in Tamil Nadu. Separating LTTE activists or fighters from genuine refugees will continue to pose problems for the Tamil Nadu police. It seems that the police is still unaware of various front organisations of the LTTE. Investigations into the bomb planting case in the Tamil Nadu Secretariat in September 1990, has led to the identification of an organisation called Tamilar Pasalai. Nobody in Tamil Nadu was actually aware that such an organisation existed or that it was supported by the LTTE till it was revealed that 'Thango, its chief, was a LTTE man.
This group worked quietly and did not seek publicity or political support within Tamil Nadu. In November 1991 when one of its activists swallowed cynide to evade arrest, its LTTE connections came to light. Investigations revealed that the main objectives of Pasalai were to start an armed struggle in Tamil Nadu in order to establish Tamil Eelam. Later interrogation of Vadivelan and one Abdul Kalam alias Prasath revealed that Palasai cadres followed a system where no one agent was aware of the whole plan or the identity of other operatives. Thango, the leader of the group, maintained a low profile and used Tiruchi as a base, but he kept away from all political organisations. He was a former employee of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. and was first enlisted by Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation (TESO) and then put in touch with the LTTE.
Later he recruited many youths from BHEL for his organisation. A number of these youths were sent to Jaffna for advanced training in subversive activities. Pasalai is one exam pie of many front organisations of the LTTE operating in our country. Recent militant attacks on rail tracks and other vulnerable areas seem to be the handiwork of smaller groups which keep a low profile and do not flaunt their LTTE connections openly.
The LTTE's Jaffna based spokesman, Anton Balasingham, has been sending feelers to New Delhi, seeking reconciliation and dialogue with the Government of India. Despite LTTE's categorical denial in the involvement in Rajiv Gandhi's murder, the people in India are generally convinced that the LTTE was involved in the assassination in one way or another. No one in India is therefore likely to give any quarter to the LTTE at present. It is more than evident from our past experience that we have nothing to gain from establishing contact with the LTTE. We hope that our intelligence agencies would not be tempted once again to play any game of their own in Tamil Nadu.
The latest confrontation between the Tamil Nadu government and the central leadership is another serious development. The AIADMK has gone on record to demand the constitution of a new Constituent Assembly to redefine the financial and other powers of the States vis-a-vis the Centre. Jayalalitha declared during the general council meeting of the AIADMK in December 1992, that any electoral pact with the Congress could not be a 'one way traffic'. "Why should the Centre try to destabise the AIADMK Government and try to disrupt peace in the state" she said.
This is another dangerous portent as these developments can lead to major problems between Tamil Nadu and the Centre, unless dealt with properly. The political chaos likely to be created by such moves can greatly benefit the pro LTTE groups in Tamil Nadu; As it is there is an atmosphere of fear and suspicion.
Little wonder then that every political party in Tamil Nadu is presently under pressure. Every Tamil refugee from Sri Lanka is suspect and even the 'Plantation Tamils' who had been given Indian citizenship in the past, are under police surveillance. Colleges and schools have recently been instructed not to admit Sri Lankan Tamiis. However, all political opponents and a population of more than 2,60,000 Sri Lankan Tamils cannot be kept under total surveillance or security watch for an indefinite period.
The LTTE activists among the refugees will lie low till the crackdown loses momentum. The so called Dravidian parties who have openly declared their sympathies for the LTTE will keep in touch with them and keep their lines of communications to Jaffna open. Strict surveillance however is a major obstacle in the LTTE's way and for the time being, it has forced the LTTE cadres and their supporters to lie low."