Father Chandiravarman Sinnathurai on
India and the LTTE: Out of the Box -
bristled at the LTTE leaders statements, AFP Report, 27 June 2006
Sri Lanka says
Tigers virtually admit Gandhi killing, Reuter Report, 27 June 2006
Parts of LTTE
leader's interview blacked out says Tamil daily, PK
Balachandran, Hindustan Times, 28 June 2006
assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, India played a detached role
in Sri Lanka's peace process, said Balasingham, Bloomber
Report, 28 June 2006
Tamil Tigers "regret" Rajiv
Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Asia Pacific Programme,
28 June 2006 also in
India rejects Tamil Tiger apology, Times On Line, 29 June
Balasingham should understand - Hindu Editorial, 29 June
Tigers' Travesty -
Meenakshi Iyer, Hindustan Times, New Delhi, July 1, 2006
foil for Prabhakaran - PK Balachandran
Assassination: The Verdict - Nadesan
Gandhi's War Crimes
நெற்றிக்கண் திறப்பினும் குற்றம்
India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam
Rajiv Gandhi assassination
‘a monumental historical tragedy’ – Balasingham
TamilNet, June 27, 2006
also LTTE Political Wing Leader, S.P.Thamilchelvan
on Anton Balsingham Statement, 8 July 2006]
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
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
“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
“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
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
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
India bristled at the LTTE
Pratap Chakravarty - AFP, 27 June 2006
NEW DELHI (AFP) - A Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebel leader expressed regret over
the 1991 assassination of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, in an
interview aired on Indian television.
"I would say it is a great tragedy, a monumental historical tragedy for which
we deeply regret and we call upon the government of India and people of India to
be magnanimous, to put the past behind (them)...," Anton Balasingham, Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief negotiator, told private NDTV station.
Gandhi was killed when a woman detonated explosives strapped to her body in the
southern Indian town of Sriperempudur in 1991 while he was campaigning in the
runup to general elections.
India blamed the LTTE but the Tamil Tigers denied their involvement in the
attack, which also killed 14 others.
As premier, Gandhi was responsible for sending Indian peacekeepers to Sri Lanka
in 1987 following an agreement with Colombo to help the military stabilize the
country. Some 1,200 Indian troops were killed in subsequent fighting with Tamil
Tiger rebels, forcing India's pullout in 1990.
Balasingham Tuesday urged India to help resolve the bloody ethnic conflict
between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government that has killed hundreds in
recent months and left a 2002 truce in tatters.
"We are prepared to build up a new relationship with the Indian government
provided she makes a positive gesture. We have already pledged never to do
anything which is inimical to the geo-political interest of India.
"And so, if the past is put aside and a new beginning is made then there is
possibility of India playing an active role in bringing a resolution to this
conflict," he said.
His call came as Sri Lankan peace broker Norway head into crisis talks on
Thursday to try to salvage the island's faltering ceasefire, as the
assassination of a top army general underscored the threat of renewed war.
He added that Gandhi's assassination was linked to his decision to send soldiers
into Sri Lanka.
Tamil Tiger leaders expressed regret in 2002 for the assassination but stopped
short of accepting responsibility for the "tragic event".
"We had a negotiation with Sri Lanka and secured the withdrawal of the Indian
troops in the 1990s and of course finally it was followed by the assassination
of Rajiv Gandhi," Balasingham said in the television interview.
India bristled at the LTTE leaders statements.
"The people of India cannot forget the dastardly crime committed by the LTTE or
at their behest," India's Junior Foreign Minister Anand Sharma told reporters.
"Seeking our forgiveness would be tantamount to endorsing their philosophy of
terror, violence and assassination," said Sharma, who was a close aide of
He also lashed out at the LTTE.
"They still continue to believe in the politics of terror and violence and there
cannot be any solution through violence, assassinations and military conflict,"
"India is for peace, stability and the unity of Sri Lanka and we have been
supportive of the peace process and it is very sad it has got derailed," the
foreign minister said and ruled out any direct talks with the group.
The LTTE is a banned organisation in India. "It is for the LTTE to renounce
violence and return to the negotiating table," Sharma said. Gandhi's
Italian-born widow, Sonia, currently heads the ruling Congress party which leads
a coalition government in New Delhi.
Sri Lanka says Tigers virtually admit
Reuter Report, 27 June 2006
COLOMBO (Reuters) - Comments by a senior Tamil
rebel leader on the 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv
Gandhi were tantamount to an admission of the group's guilt, Sri Lanka's
government said on Wednesday.
London-based Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ideologue Anton Balasingham
told Indian television on Tuesday the killing was "a monumental historical
tragedy" which the Tigers deeply regretted, and called on India to be
magnanimous and put the past behind it.
But Balasingham did not explicitly admit to the killing, and analysts said his
comments were broadly in line with a similar statement made just after a 2002
ceasefire was agreed between the rebels and the Colombo government.
"It is an admission of guilt, certainly," said Kethesh Loganathan, Deputy
Secretary General of the Sri Lankan government peace secretariat. "But it is
neither an acknowledgement nor an apology to the government of India and the
people of India."
"An apology is where Balasingham says the LTTE is sorry for having killed Rajiv
Gandhi and we apologize ... It comes nowhere close to that."
Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber while addressing an election meeting near
the southern Indian city of Chennai in May 1991. Indian courts have named senior
Tamil Tiger leaders as the prime accused, but the group has in the past denied
Balasingham said in Tuesday's television interview: "As far as that event is
concerned, I would say it is ... a monumental historical tragedy ... and we call
upon (India) to be magnanimous to put the past behind and to approach the ethnic
question in a different perspective."
He also appealed to India to get more involved in Sri Lanka's peace process,
which analysts said appeared to be a conciliatory -- if unexpected -- gesture by
a group increasingly isolated by international terrorism bans.
"Maybe the LTTE is seeking to redress the isolation it is facing now, and has
seen an opportunity in the apparent distance between the Sri Lankan and Indian
governments on the issue of the peace process," said Jehan Perera of
non-partisan peace advocacy group the National Peace Council.
"India is urging a political approach that the Sri Lankan government is really
not following," he added. "It's also the LTTE's recognition that India will play
a central role in a Sri Lankan solution in the long term, and that somehow Tamil
nationalism has to come to terms with the Indians."
The Tiger statement comes as the island's protracted peace process is
deadlocked, and as a rash of deadly ambushes and military clashes that have
killed more than 700 people so far this year threaten to rekindle a two-decade
Since the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, India played a
detached role in Sri Lanka's peace process, said Balasingham, Bloomberg
Report, 28 June 2006
Sri Lanka's rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam group
said it regrets the 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv
Gandhi and asked the Indian government to ``put the past behind.''
Gandhi's death was ``a monumental historical tragedy for which we deeply
regret,'' Anton Balasingham, the LTTE's chief negotiator, said in an interview
yesterday with India's NDTV network, according to a TamilNet report. ``We call
upon the government of India and people of India to be magnanimous to put the
India can help Sri Lanka's peace process by trying to persuade both sides to
seek a settlement, Balasingham said. India cannot play a mediating role as long
as it continues to designate the LTTE as a terrorist organization, he said.
Gandhi, who sent Indian peacekeeping soldiers to Sri Lanka in 1987 as part of an
accord with Sri Lanka's government, was killed in southern India by a woman
suicide bomber. India blamed the LTTE for the attack, a charge the group denied.
Indian soldiers completed a withdrawal from Sri Lanka in March 1990 after two
years of clashes with LTTE fighters.
Tamils rejected the 1987 accord between India and Sri Lanka because it didn't
satisfy the political aspirations of the Tamil people, Balasingham said. ``There
were a lot of events that took place creating a gulf between the LTTE and the
government of India,'' he said.
The LTTE has made pledges that it won't act against the interests of the
government of India, he said.
``Since the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, India played a detached role'' in Sri
Lanka's peace process, Balasingham said. India's government should be actively
involved now playing a diplomatic role, he said.
Almost daily violence in Sri Lanka is threatening a return to civil war and
putting at risk aid worth $4.5 billion dollars pledged by donor nations on the
condition there is progress toward peace. A suicide bomb attack two days ago
killed Sri Lanka's army deputy chief of staff. An April suicide bombing in
Colombo wounded the army commander and 60 civilians were killed in a June 15
blast on a bus.
The army increased its use of roadblocks and searches of road transport in
response to the June 26 attack, which the government blamed on Tamil Tiger
India, in a message sent to the Sri Lankan government after the bombing, pledged
its support in the fight against terrorism, Sri Lanka's military said on its Web
site. A peace settlement must take into account the aspirations of all the Sri
Lankan people and uphold the country's unity and territorial integrity, the
Indian government said in the statement.
The LTTE is intent on crippling the work of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
that oversees a 2002 cease-fire, Sri Lanka's government said in a statement
The LTTE has demanded the withdrawal from the SLMM of European Union members
Sweden, Denmark and Finland after the EU on May 29 declared the group a
terrorist organization. Norway leads the SLMM, which also includes Finland.
Sri Lanka's government and the LTTE have both said they want to uphold the
cease-fire. The LTTE should resume peace negotiations either directly or with
Norwegian mediation, the government said June 19.
The Tamil Tigers have been fighting for a separate homeland in the north and
east. The rebels want an interim self-governing body established in areas they
control before a peace settlement is reached. Sri Lanka's $24 billion economy
has had uninterrupted growth since the truce, brokered by Norway, halted the
two-decade civil war, in which more than 60,000 people died.
Parts of LTTE leader's interview
blacked out: Tamil daily
PK Balachandran, Hindustan Times, 28 June 2006
A leading Sri Lankan Tamil daily has said that key sections of the interview
given by the LTTE's chief negotiator Anton Balasingham to the Indian TV channel
NDTV, were edited out to give the impression that he had "apologised" for the
assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
The daily Sudar Oli said on Wednesday that nowhere in the interview did
Balasingham say that the LTTE was owning the assassination and that it was
apologising for it.
"Only a portion of the interview was shown, and that was made the basis of
comments and conclusions," the paper said in a front-page piece. Balasingham had
only said that the LTTE deeply regretted the assassination and had described it
as a monumental and historical tragedy.
This was only an extension of what the LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran himself
had said in a press conference on April 10, 2002, the paper pointed out. Asked
if the LTTE assassinated Rajiv Gandhi, all that Prabhakaran said was that it was
a "thunbiyal nigazhvu" (Tamil for tragic incident). Sudar Oli's case is that
neither Prabhakaran nor Balasingham has admitted involvement in the
assassination nor tendered an apology for it.
According to the paper, which gets many exclusives from Balasingham, the LTTE's
negotiator had, in fact, explained the chain of events, which led to the
assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. But this had been edited out. Balasingham had
said that India should not consider the assassination as an individual act of
murder but as part of a chain of events.
And India should see the incident as being part of the history of its own
military involvement in Sri Lanka. But this was cut out, the paper charged.
To cut this out and say what Balasingham never said (that the LTTE was
apologizing after 15 years) was an attempt to create an illusion that the LTTE
had acknowledged responsibility for the assassination, the paper said.
It further said that the interview done on Sunday was analysed word by word,
certain portions were deliberate chosen and others left out, and an opportunity
was given to the Indian government to respond.
And to mollify Balasingham, he had been told that the full interview would be
telecast later, the paper reported.
Tamil Tigers "regret" Rajiv Gandhi assasination
Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Asia Pacific Programme, 28 June 2006
Fifteen years after Rajiv Gandhi was assasinated, Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels
have for the first time expressed public regret over the death of the former
Indian prime minister. The top rebel negotiator has told Indian television that
Mr Gandhi's death by a suicide bomber was a "monumental tragedy" but he's
stopped short of claiming responsibility. During his time as leader, Rajiv
Gandhi designed a solution for the Sri Lanka problem that some still regard as
the best yet. But others say his efforts were the very reason for his
Presenter/Interviewer: Zulfikar Abbany
Speakers: Dr Jehan Perera, Sri Lanka's National Peace Council; S. Puleedevan,
LTTE's Peace Secretariate
ARCHIVE MATERIAL: Here is a special news bulletin. We regret to announce that
the former Prime Minister and Congress Party President, Mr Rajiv Gandhi, has
been killed in a massive bomb blast. An angry mob has gathered outside the
Gandhi home, where they're blaming anyone and everyone.
ABBANY: Then, as now, tension and violence were the order of the day. Rajiv
Gandhi was killed in 1991, during national elections in India. On his
initiative, four years earlier, Mr Gandhi reached agreement with the Sri Lanka
government to deploy Indian peace keepers to stabilise the country. As a result,
around 1,200 Indian troops were killed in clashes with Tamil Tiger rebels. He
was about to give an election speech when he was killed. He was out of office at
the time. But some, like Dr Jehan Perera, of the National Peace Council in Sri
Lanka, say the Tigers were worried Mr Gandhi would be re-elected.
PERERA: Rajiv Gandhi came in trying to solve the Sri Lankan problem, he brought
in the Indian army as peace keepers, he designed the solution for Sri Lanka that
today many of us think was the right solution and which went the furthest in
giving the Tamil people the right of self government in their area. This was not
properly implemented. The Indians were asked to leave Sri Lanka, to take their
peace keeping army away.
ABBANY: Now, fifteen years later, the peace process and ceasefire of 2002 have
all but failed. And Dr Perera says that the Tigers find themselves without much
support. Especially, after the European Union recently labelled their
organisation, the LTTE, a terrorist organisation. The head of the Tamil Tiger's
Peace Secretariat, S. Puleedevan, disputes that the LTTE is isolated. He insists
the EU has only frozen the LTTE's assets, but otherwise continues to work for
peace in Sri Lanka. He also maintains that the LTTE is not giving up on Norway
as the main peace broker, in calling on India's help.
PULEEDEVAN: It is not true that the LTTE is being isolated. Even though the EU
put the ban on the LTTE, that's only for freezing the assets. They like to keep
the channel open and they also like to help to our peace process and to the LTTE
ABBANY: Dr Perera says the Norwegians have shown the Tigers the kind of respect
that others have denied.
PERERA: No, I do not think the LTTE would want to give up the Norwegians because
the Norwegians have been very steadfast both in their commitment to the peace
process and to treating the LTTE with a measure of equality and status which the
LTTE really crave for.
ABBANY: But Dr Perera also says that the peace process in Sri Lanka depends on
PERERA: Ultimately we all know without Indian blessing and backing and pressure
this conflict probably will not be solved.
ABBANY: Whether India responds to the Tiger's appeal is another thing. The
Indian government says it is unsatisfied with the LTTE's expression of regret.
India still wants an admission of responsibility. But that's one thing that the
Tiger's Peace Secretariat, S. Puleedevan, says is not on offer.
PULEEDEVAN: No, no, we don't want to say anything about our responsibilities,
but we only can say this is a monumental tragedy.
ABBANY: And so you're asking India to put the past behind it, to get India back
on board, to work toward peace?
TAMIL: Always it is good to forget the past and work for the future. That's
always a very good thing to do.
ABBANY: But from India's point of view, the Tiger's move may be a case of them
wanting to forget the past before the victims of the past have come to terms
PERERA: Also the sense I guess that this is a tactical move on the part of the
LTTE because if they were really sincere about peace based on compromise then
they wouldn't be engaging in the horrendous acts of violence and terrorism that
they are engaging in in Sri Lanka at this time.
Tamil Tiger apology
Times On Line, 29 June 2006
India said that it was not ready to forgive the Tamil Tigers after the rebel
group came the closest yet to admitting that it killed Rajiv Gandhi, the former
Indian Prime Minister. It also rejected calls to mediate in the Sri Lankan
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were apparently making overtures to
establish a measure of rapprochement with India. The group has become
increasingly isolated and feared a Sri Lankan military crackdown, analysts said.
India was reacting to a statement made to the Indian NDTV by Anton Balasingham,
the Tigers’ ideologue, that the killing of Gandhi was “a monumental historical
tragedy” that the group deeply regretted. He also called on India to be
magnanimous and put the past behind it. Although Mr Balasingham did not
explicitly admit to the killing, the Sri Lankan Government said that the
comments were tantamount to an admission of the group’s guilt.
Leaders of Mr Gandhi’s ruling Congress party, now headed by his Italian-born
widow, Sonia, dismissed the comments as nothing new. The rebel initiative
coincided with fresh violence in which twelve Tigers and five Sri Lankan sailors
were killed in clashes near a naval base on the west of the island. (Reuters,
What Balasingham should understand -
Hindu Editorial, 29 June 2006
As the peace process in Sri Lanka totters on the brink of collapse and the
screws of international sanctions tighten on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam, Anton Balasingham, Political Adviser to the organisation's supremo, has
come up with a clever, perhaps over-clever, play. This is in the form of an
interview to NDTV — the highlight of which is a so-called confession on the
LTTE's role in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperumbudur in May 1991
combining with an appeal to India to be "magnanimous," "put the past behind
[it]," and shape "a new foreign policy towards her neighbour" on the basis of "a
new understanding ... [and] a new relationship" with the Tigers.
This is clearly meant to soften New Delhi's unrelenting hostility, legal and
political, towards the LTTE — now proscribed or listed by most major countries
as a terrorist organisation — and also to create confusion in the Indian public
mind about the organisation's real aims and intentions.
The `confession,' couched in ambiguity, is classic double-speak. The Rajiv
assassination, according to Mr. Balasingham, was "a great tragedy ... a
monumental tragedy ... which we deeply regret, and we call upon the Government
of India and people of India to be magnanimous ... to put the past behind [them]
and to approach the ethnic question in a different perspective."
This statement can be read in any which way. It will certainly not qualify in
any court of law as a confession since Mr. Balasingham can offer the following
defence: "What I meant was that the LTTE regarded the Rajiv Gandhi assassination
as a great or monumental tragedy and since India seemed convinced we were behind
it, I appealed to it to put the whole tragic experience behind it and approach
Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict from a fresh perspective."
But the answer to the LTTE spokesman's appeal to India to "actively involve
[itself] in the peace process" cannot be in any doubt. Given the circumstances,
India cannot play any direct role in Sri Lanka's peace process. At the same
time, this country has a deep interest and stake in its neighbour coming out of
its time of troubles on the basis of a non-military, negotiated, and just
political settlement of the Tamil question along federal lines — and within the
framework of Sri Lanka remaining one.
It can be added that The Hindu has, over the past half century, shared this
perspective and consistently championed the cause of the Tamils of the island
within this just and anti-secessionist framework. Further, New Delhi has made it
abundantly clear that it will "maintain an abiding interest in the security of
Sri Lanka and remains committed to its sovereignty and territorial integrity."
What Mr. Balasingham needs to understand is that this national policy has solid
support across the political spectrum, barring some small pro-LTTE parties and
elements in Tamil Nadu that stand isolated from mainstream democratic opinion.
Tigers' Travesty - Meenakshi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, July 1, 2006
The Tamil Tiger's recent volte-face on Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's
assassination has shocked political analysts worldwide who know A to Z about
LTTE. Ever since the killing of India's charismatic leader in 1991, the Tamil
rebel group has never admitted its guilt.
In fact, at one of the Oslo peace talks sessions in 2002, Anton Balasingham -
the ideologue who did the needful for the LTTE this time - himself had
"categorically" denied any involvement, and had stormed out of the room looking
"It is a monumental hypocrisy, an insult to Indian public opinion as well as
international opinion. The Tigers don't clearly say in the tape that they did
it. This kind of statement by Balasingham does not absolve them of the
culpability," says General VR Raghavan, Director of Centre for Strategic
In an interview to a private channel in New Delhi, the LTTE's ideologue had said
that what happened in 1992 was a "great tragedy, a monumental historical
tragedy, for which we deeply regret and we call upon the Government of India and
people of India to put the past behind".
What took the LTTE so long to realise their "monumental blunder"? Have the
Tigers really changed their stripes, or is it just another classic LTTE ploy?
"The LTTE is isolated internationally. They have nothing to show as a peace
dividend in spite of a ceasefire of four years. They must know by now that
without India's intervention there can be no solution."
"And they will know that India's involvement, if not directly but indirectly on
behalf of the Sri Lankan government will be worse for them," reasons Dr S
Chandrasekharan, Director of South Asia Analysis Group.
The move by the Tamil rebels comes amid mounting violence in the island nation.
The group's image suffered a severe blow after it was banned by the European
"In the very first place, the Tigers are trying to sidestep the tragedy by
saying that it is a monumental tragedy. Secondly, they are trying to create
differences between the Sri Lankan and the Indian governments. LTTE now wants
India on their side," clarifies General Raghavan.
What Raghavan asks is: "Are these the Tigers who conspired with President
Premadasa in the 90s to oust the Indian Peace Keeping Force?"
"Sorrow", "repentance" and "forgiveness", which smack of sublime spirituality,
can never be in the vocabulary of a killing machine, which vows adherence to
ways of the brute, says Sri Lanka's leading paper Daily News.
The Tigers' recent act has become more or less a "tragicomedy" the world over.
While a few parties in India call it "silly", back home in Sri Lanka too, the
Tigers are being laughed at!
"Repentance for the spilling of innocent blood, coming from an organisation,
which seems to be having an insatiable appetite for terror, is an incongruity,
which is comic in the extreme," says the Daily News editorial.
Both Raghavan and Chandrasekharan say that it is difficult to forget and forgive
such a dastardly attack and believe that India should now drag the Tigers to the
court of law.
If indeed, the LTTE wanted to apologise for Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, it
should say that publicly, in court, where there a criminal case pending against
the Tiger chieftain Velupillai Prabhakaran, according to a Sri Lankan government
spokesman Keheliya Rambukwela.
Prabhakaran and his Intelligence Chief Pottu Amman, who are the first and second
accused in the case, are still "proclaimed offenders" and the Interpol has been
on the hunt for them. Also, aptly, India has made it clear that forgiving the
Tigers is tantamount to endorsing the philosophy of terror, violence and
political assassination. The Sri Lankan media reiterates this view.
"Even if the LTTE goes on its bended knees to India over the granting of a
pardon for the assassination of former Premier Rajiv Gandhi, India would remain
unswayed, for this would amount to endorsing the Tigers' policy of using terror
for the achievement of political aims," says Daily News.
The Secretary General of the government Peace Secretariat Dr Palitha Kohona
describes Balasingham's "apology" as a "political ploy" to prevent India from
taking any decisions which might affect the LTTE adversely.
Clearly, Balasingham's ploy has failed.He had wanted a sympathetic response in
India. But all he got was brickbats and egg on his face.Even the response in
Tamil Nadu has been extremely lukewarm with Chief Minister Karunanidhi saying
that Balasingham's statement is confusing!
The Tiger's think tank will now have to come up with another ploy.
Balasingham, a foil for Prabhakaran -
is Special Correspondent of Hindustan Times in Sri Lanka, 3 July 2006 Courtesy:
Recently, when the chief negotiator of the LTTE, Anton Balasingham,
supposedly apologised for the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister
Rajiv Gandhi, one of the questions raised in the highest Indian circles was
whether he represented the voice of supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran.
It was felt that Balasingham could be voicing his personal opinion, and the
interview he gave to the Indian TV channel might well be a desperate individual
initiative to reach out to India at a critical time in the history of the LTTE
when it was facing international isolation.
A related assumption was that in the LTTE, divergent opinions, views, and
proposals could be publicly expressed.
But keen observers of the LTTE say that these assumptions and theories are
The truth, according to them, is that no one in the LTTE ever publicly airs his
personal views, and that on the question of Rajiv Gandhi's assassination,
Balasingham had only aired Prabhakaran's view, the one and only view in the
Prabhakaran had said in his epoch making press conference in Kilinochchi on
April 10, 2002, that he considered Rajiv Gandhi's assassination a "tragic event"
and sought a rapprochement with India saying that the past should be forgotten.
The Tiger chieftain had cleverly dodged the question, which was, whether he
would apologise to India for assassinating its leader.
What Balasingham said in the TV interview four years down the line, was pretty
much the same. Neither Balasingham nor Prabhakaran had admitted to the crime or
apologised for it. The way the April 10, 2002 press conference was conducted
showed how close the two were, and how identical their views were.
When journalists bombarded Prabhakaran with questions, Balasingham, the supposed
translator, interjected and brazenly declared that he would take the questions.
And when a foreign journalist protested, he declared: "My views and
Prabhakaran's views are the same!" Very significantly, there was not a whimper
of protest from the chieftain.
Different but complementary This, of course, does not mean that Balasingham and
Prabhakaran have no differences or have had no serious differences. But they
have always made up, never bringing the differences out into the open.
Balasingham and Prabhakaran are completely different from each other, but they
complement each other. Balasingham does what Prabhakaran cannot, and Prabhakaran
does what Balasingham cannot.
Both are wedded to the core values, goals and techniques of the LTTE, though
allowances are made for differences on peripheral matters.
And there has been a remarkable consistency. Others may have come and gone, but
Balasingham has been with Prabhakaran, and that, in the inner circle, right from
1979, when the LTTE was still in its infancy.
Balasingham has the unique distinction of being the leader of the LTTE's
negotiating team on every occasion barring the talks with the JR Jayewardene
government in Thimpu in Bhutan in 1985; and the meeting with the Nordic monitors
in Oslo on June 8 and 9, this year.
He could not go for the Oslo talks this time because of ill-health. And during
the Thimpu talks, he was on the hotline acting as a link between Prabhakaran and
the LTTE delegation.
Writing about the Balasingham-Prabhakaran relationship in her book' The Will to
Freedom' (Fairmax Publishing Ltd Mitcham, England, 2001) his wife Adele
Balasingham says: "The relationship between these two single-minded individuals
has been unique.
It is one of those relationships where two different personalities come together
at a specific conjuncture and play significant roles in the movement of
While Balasingham is the philosopher and the theoretician of the movement,
Prabhakaran is the quintessential activist, and also the final decision maker.
Balasingham is the negotiator, with a preference for peaceful methods of
conflict resolution based on compromise and step-by-step movement.
But Prabhakaran, the warrior, pitches for the extreme and is uncompromising. But
there has been a fruitful division of labour between the two, by mutual, tacit
"Bala" as Adele refers to him in her book, is the political interpreter or
translator of the LTTE's actions to the outside world, a tough task now, given
the global hostility towards violent non-state actors and terrorists.
He is the interface with the genteel world, given his felicity with the English
language, the gift of the gap, his wide reading, and his academic and
He is adept at handling political leaders, heads of governments, officials and
journalists from across the globe.
In arguments, Balasingham can be reasonable and persuasive as well as
intimidating, carping, and sarcastic when the occasion demands. Prabhakaran, on
the other hand, is shy and retiring. He speaks only Tamil. He also has strong
views. But he determines the basic goals of the organisation, its basic
strategies and tactics and is entirely in-charge of the military aspect of it.
Despite his privileged and unique place in the set up, Balasingham has never
overstepped his limits and has always worked within the unwritten parameters of
his relationship with the supremo.
"Bala has always viewed his role with the LTTE and the struggle as the advisor
and theoretician to Pirabakaran and the organisation," writes Adele.
In line with the Tamil way, Adele spells the Supremo's name as "Pirabakaran" and
not "Prabhakaran" as it is spelled generally in line with the Sanskrit original.
Balasingham has scrupulously avoided military matters because these are
sensitive. In such matters, he will wait for Prabhakaran to brief him. And
according to Adele, Prabhakaran would unfailingly brief him so that the required
press releases could be written and the concerns of the outside world addressed.
Role of trust "Trust" has been the basis of the relationship between the two.
Though holed up in a jungle hideout in the Wanni in North Sri Lanka, with little
or no interaction with the world outside, Prabhakaran has never felt insecure
vis-…-vis Balasingham, who, living in the UK for years, has the skills to
interact with outsiders and has been in close touch with them.
Prabhakaran has never feared that Balasingham may be weaned away from the
fundamentals of the LTTE by "pernicious" outside influences.
"Bala's lack of concern for power, his preparedness to restrain his role to
writing, teaching and advising, and his obvious commitment to the struggle,
eventually made Bala the most reliable and trustworthy advisor to Pirabakaran,"
Balasingham's willingness to speak the truth as he sees it, is appreciated by
Prabhakaran. He will not utter a falsehood, simply to please Prabhakaran.
On this Adele writes: "One quality that Pirabakaran has admired and valued in
Bala all these years, is his commitment to truth. Bala has always acted on the
principle that he should convey accurate and truthful advice in the best
interests of both Pirabakaran and the struggle."
"Whether Pirbakaran has always heeded the advice or was displeased by what he
frankly conveyed, was not Bala's concern." "As the advisor to Pirabakaran, Bala
has many times told me, it was his duty to tell the truth, regardless of how
unpalatable it may be."
Academic orientation Balasingham has had an academic orientation right from the
earliest days unlike Prabhakaran who quit formal education at 16 and has had
some disdain for conceptualisation and theorisation.
Though born Christian, Balasingham took to the Hindu Vedantic philosophy in the
early days. And many Sinhala Buddhists will be surprised to learn that he was
strongly attracted to Buddhism and had gone about giving lectures on it.
Later, while in the UK, he read widely on Western philosophy and Marxism and
enrolled for a doctorate on a comparison of Marx and Freud. But he could not
complete the thesis because of his involvement with exiles from the Third World
who were fighting for liberation.
Very soon, he found that Marxism had to be tempered by the ethnic dimension if
the Sri Lankan situation had to be fully and correctly grasped.
According to Adele, he found that a pure Marist analysis would not be able to
explain the core concerns of Jaffna Tamil society, steeped as it was (and still
is) in Hinduism, Tamil culture and history, and the caste system.
Balasingham lectured to young Tamil arm chair revolutionaries and wrote tracts
on the guerilla campaigns of Che Guevara and Mao. He wrote pamphlets on the Sri
Lankan Tamil issue also, putting it in a conceptual framework.
Before long, these works attracted the attention of Prabhakaran who was then
living in exile in Chennai, India. Prabhakaran expressed a wish to see him and
Balasingham and Adele journeyed to Chennai in 1979.The link established then,
has remained unbroken till date.
"Although they liked each other from the outset, it took many years for both to
cultivate a unique friendship based on profound mutual understanding," writes
Adele. Prabhakaran had by then seen the need to impart to his cadres a knowledge
of larger social, economic and political issues.
These were necessary for developing a commitment to the Tamil cause, which was
larger than just setting up an independent Tamil Eelam by force of arms, he
felt. Balasingham was assigned the task of giving orientation lectures.
Personal advisor Within a few years of interaction, Balasingham had become a
close personal confidante of Prabhakaran's.
When Prabhakaran fell in love with Madhivadhani, a young recruit from Jaffna,
and wanted to marry her, but was constrained by the norm that cadres should not
marry or have sexual relations, Balasingham argued for a change in the normative
system to accord with nature, and got Prabhakaran to change the rules.
It is noteworthy that Balasingham has always accepted the final judgment of
Prabhakaran on any matter. He has had implicit faith in Prabhakaran's intuition
and felt that the leader has been right every time.
In his book War and Peace (Fairmax Publishing Ltd. Mitcham, England, 2004)
Balasingham gives a telling example.
He says that just prior to the signing of the India-Sri Lanka Accord on July 27,
1987, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had proposed a "secret pact" with the
LTTE in a last ditch effort to secure Prabhakaran's consent.
He promised to give the LTTE a dominant position in the proposed Interim
Administrative Council of the new North Eastern Province; wink at a token
surrender of arms; and grant Indian Rupees five million monthly to help the LTTE
maintain its cadres in lieu of the right to levy taxes.
Despite pressure from the Tamil Nadu Minister Panrutti Ramachandran on
Prabhakaran to enter into the secret pact, the LTTE Supremo was glum. Later, he
told Balasingham that he did not trust the Indians, and had no faith in their
promises, whether written or unwritten.
According to Balasingham, subsequent events proved that Prabhakaran was right
because New Delhi seemed to be doing the bidding of the JR Jayewardene
government in regard to the implementation of the 1987 Accord.
Toes the Prabhakaran line In all negotiations and dealings with the Jayawardene
government and the successor governments of R.Premadasa, Chandrika Kumaratunga,
Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mahinda Rajapaksa, Balasingham has invariably followed
the line laid by Prabhakaran.
Many in Sri Lanka and India like to believe that Balasingham is a moderate and
that Prabhakaran is the extremist - the real hindrance to any compromise or
Balasingham is often quoted as saying informally to members of Sri Lankan peace
delegations that it will be better to settle the Tamil issue while he is around,
because the likely successors at the negotiating take are confirmed extremists.
But keen watchers of the LTTE feel that this may be a ploy to get the Sri Lankan
state and the international community to blindly accept the LTTE's demands.
Many in Sri Lanka and abroad like to believe that Prabhakaran was very angry
with Balasingham's decision to sign the "Oslo Declaration" of 2002 wherein the
LTTE supposedly agreed to find a "federal" solution within a united Sri Lanka.
There was speculation that the supremo might appoint a new chief negotiator.
But no change took place, because the Oslo Declaration was nothing but an
expression of an interest on the part of the two parties in trying to find a
federal solution. It was not a commitment to finding a federal solution.
What was committed to did not run counter to Prabhakaran's stated policy. In
speech after speech on November 27 every year, the Tiger Chieftain has said that
the LTTE will consider any proposal that may satisfy the needs and aspirations
of the Sri Lankan Tamils.
Earlier, in the later 1980s, during the talks with President Premadasa, the
LTTE's delegation led by Balasingham agreed to stand for elections to the North
Eastern Provincial Council (NEPC).
This surprised Adele. And when she asked Balasingham whether this was not
compromising the LTTE's rejection of the Sri Lankan state and its institutions,
he said that by seeking this alternative, the LTTE would not lose anything.
It would only help promote the cause of establishing Tamil Eelam.
Adele quotes Balasingham as saying that if the Tigers won the elections, they
would transform the concepts of Tamil homeland and Tamil nationhood into
concrete realities, which were their declared ideals.
Far from acting differently, Balasingham has unwaveringly and effectively
furthered his supremo's objectives in areas assigned to him.