We killed Rajiv, confesses LTTE
Wednesday, June 28, 2006 12:44:17 .
NEW DELHI: Fifteen years after a LTTE suicide bomber killed Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur, the Tamil rebel outfit on Tuesday admitted its responsibility for the crime and delivered a public apology.
In an interview to a TV network on Tuesday, Anton Balasingham, LTTE ideologue and one of Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran's confidants, executed a major shift of policy, describing the May 21, 1991, killing of Rajiv Gandhi as "a monumental historical tragedy".
"As far as that event is concerned...I would say it is a great tragedy... a monumental historical 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... and to approach the ethnic question in a different perspective," Balasingham said.
Asked if the LTTE could promise that it would not commit such acts again, Balasingham added: "We have made pledges to the government of India that under no circumstance will we act against the interests of the government of India."
Thus far, the LTTE has denied that it was responsible for the killing of Rajiv Gandhi. Reacting to the LTTE admission, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said: "It's good that after so many years they (LTTE) have admitted to having killed Rajiv Gandhi.
For India, it was a national tragedy because Rajiv Gandhi was the most popular leader of his time. Now the question is of fixing responsibility for the crime."
In another interview, minister of state for external affairs Anand Sharma said it would be impossible to put the past behind, as Balasingham suggested, because India had "rule of law" and it could not be seen to be condoning the politics of violence by rehabilitating the LTTE.
The belated LTTE admission of guilt has less to do with genuine remorse than the compulsion to drive a wedge between India and Sri Lanka, say analysts who have followed the LTTE for years.
At this point, the Tigers' interest would lie in preventing the growing convergence between India and the Lankan government, particularly in the defence sector, which has ramped up Sri Lankan capability, especially against the LTTE.
Balasingham reminded everyone of the fact that India had initially trained the LTTE, asking it to return to a more active role.
The LTTE statement comes as the outfit finds itself with virtually no friends, especially after the European Union banned it last month.
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Published: Tue Jun 27 16:47:02 EDT 2006