India Intelligence Report

   India Rejects LTTE “Regret”



  • India rejects LTTE regret for Rajiv Gandhi assassination

  • Former investigative officer accuses LTTE of trying to soften Indian attitude

  • India says ethnic struggle issue is different from terror. Large numbers of analysts call for Indian participation despite ban on LTTE.

A day after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) regretted the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi the Indian Government strongly rejected these statements as that would be “tantamount to endorsing the philosophy of terror, violence and political assassinations.” While Chief Negotiator and political ideologue Anton Balasingham’s comments did sound like an admission of guilt, the LTTE quickly denied it was so and claimed that Balasingham was only talking about how it affected the organization.

Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said Balasingham’s remarks were a "confession" by the rebel group of its "complicity" in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, which was a "well-known fact." The LTTE cadres had been convicted in the case.

Former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director, D.R. Kaarthikeyan, who led the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that probed the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, LTTE was trying to soften the attitude of the Government and people of India. He speculated that since India had commuted the death sentence of one of the key accused to life imprisonment and “did nothing for over eight years to implement the death sentence confirmed by the Supreme Court on three other accused” might have made the LTTE think that there was a softening of attitude and policy. Kaarthikeyan “I do not think any politician could have played a role in the LTTE coming out with a confession at this stage.”

Kaarthikeyan said it was not surprising that the LTTE confessed because their attempts to involve “self-seeking politicians in our own country” to “derail and disrupt the investigation and trial” have “miserably failed.” He said that the LTTE is “unarguably the deadliest terrorist group in the world.”

Sharma said that the LTTE should not confuse terrorism with the ethnic issue. India wants a negotiated settlement for the Sri Lankan Tamils so peace and unity returns to the island state. It is not clear whether Sharma was questioning the legitimacy of the LTTE as the principle negotiator for the Lankan Tamils. With the decimation of other militant groups, the LTTE has emerged as the sole representative of the Tamil population. The fact that they are accused in the assassination of an Indian Prime Minister would not take away that position from them.

The unfortunate reality for India is that with the ban on LTTE, which was necessary then, it has lost all bargaining chips in Sri Lanka. Predictably, the Sri Lankan Government (SLG) would love for India to participate on its side but that would mean politically alienating vast tracks of land in India. While the Tamils and Tamil Nadu have ethnic ties, they do not have similar political or economic interests but politicians in Tamil Nadu make it so. On the other hand, brutal suppression of the Tamils will also encourage a large refugee exodus to India thereby affecting Indian security. Several analysts have recommended that India modify its policies to facilitate peace and security in Lanka.

Meanwhile, the LTTE and the SLG are to meet at Oslo to discuss the composition of the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM). The LTTE does not want European Union members as their Governments have banned the organization for terrorism. The SLG says that since the SLMM Memorandum has been signed by it with Norway, the LTTE has no locus standi in the matter. The Tamils gave a 1 month deadline which they are willing to extend to 3 months so the SLMM composition may be changed. Both parties have weakened the position of Norway as a facilitator accusing it if taking sides.