India Intelligence Report

   LTTE Regrets Rajiv Gandhi Assassination



  • LTTE regrets Rajiv Gandhi assassination

  • Wants new understanding and relationship with India

  • Wants India to be more participatory in Sri Lanka developments

In a virtual admission of guilt, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Chief Peace Negotiator and Ideologue, Anton Balasingham said that his organization deeply regretted the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. However, LTTE has claimed that it has not admitted guilt but only expressed regret. Describing it as a “monumental historical tragedy,” Balasingham asked for forgiveness from “the Government of India and the people of India” and “to put the past behind and to approach the ethnic question in a different perspective.”

On May 21, 1991, Gandhi was assassinated by a female bomber who detonated strapped on bombs in close proximity killing him and many others. Balasingham did not directly refer to LTTE’s role but clearly went beyond what LTTE chief Vellupillai Prabakaran said at an April 10, 2002 press conference. At that time, Prabakaran said the assassination: “is a tragic incident that took place 10 years ago” and declined to “comment further.”

Balasingham said that the LTTE was prepared to build a new understanding with India provided New Delhi made a "positive gesture" towards it. The change of heart is at a time when the LTTE is facing increasing international isolation. The European Union has banned the LTTE and the Tigers have themselves undermined Norway's role as facilitator and have rejected the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) monitors.

The LTTE continues to argue that the assassination was not ordered as a response to the 1987 India-Sri Lanka Accord. Balasingham said “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 Government of India and the Indians later sent the IPKF — Indian Peace Keeping Force, to disarm the LTTE and eventually broke out in to an open confrontation. We fought a guerrilla war against the Indian Army for two years and finally the Sri Lankans. We had a negotiation with Sri Lanka and secured the withdrawal of the Indian troops in the 90s and of course finally it was followed by the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi."

The LTTE says that they 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.”

Balasingham was evasive when asked if the LTTE will guarantee that it will never sponsor an assassination of Indian leaders. He said “We have made pledges to the Government of India that under no circumstances we will act against the interest of the Government of India and that ever since the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, India played a detached role. What we feel is India should actively involve (itself) in the peace process.”

Irrespective of whether the LTTE keeps its word or not, India will have to be more involved in the events in Sri Lanka.