The suicide bomber who killed President Ranasinghe Premadasa on May 1, 1993, was Kulaveerasingam Veerakumar (23) alias Babu, from Jaffna and a suicide bomber known as Kalaivani Rajaratnam alias Dhanu killed former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991. Both the suicide bombers also died on the spot.
Those two suicide bombers sacrificed their lives, blindly believing in a dream of a megalomaniac, Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Prabhakaran misled scores of Tamil youths into their death, torture and imprisonment and one generation of the Sri Lankan people suffered untold miseries due to him.
A large number of Tamils are serving prison sentences, some for longer than 30 years for terrorist acts conducted on the orders of Prabhakaran. While suicide bomber Dhanu and mastermind Sivarasan killed themselves, others involved in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination continue to suffer in Tamil Nadu jails even after three decades. Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Nalini, Jayakumar, Ravichandran and Robert Payas have not seen the outside world since they were found guilty in 1991.
Tamil youth A.G. Perarivalan who delivered battery cells for the suicide bomb, was merely 19 years old when he was arrested in June 1991. The 30 years that he has spent in prison have been a long tale of twists and turns with multiple rounds of litigation. Perarivalan had remained on death row for 23 years, before the Supreme Court of India commuted his death sentence, along with two other convicts –Nalini and Murugan – to imprisonment for life in February 2014.
Although they appealed for mercy, Indian Presidents from Shankar Dayal Sharma to Ram Nath Kovind refused to release them. In January 2021, Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit had given his assent for an amnesty for them, after a query was made by the Supreme Court, the highest judicial authority, which is yet to give the green light for their pardon.
Former Norwegian peace negotiator Erik Solheim, who defended Tiger terrorists and their so-called ‘Tamil cause’ for over three decades, finally acknowledged that he knew Tiger Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran had ordered the killing of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Solheim, in a twitter message last year, said that during discussions he had with LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham, the latter had admitted that Prabhakaran had ordered the killing of Rajiv Gandhi.
Norway was one of the countries that backed the UNHRC Resolution which called for ‘international investigations’ and punishment of Armed Forces members who commanded the last stages of the battle to eliminate the terror outfit LTTE in 2009.
As the Sri Lankan issue is debated at the UNHRC in Geneva now, this is the most appropriate occasion for the international community to take stock of the human sufferings due to LTTE terrorism and the vast improvement of the human rights situation and the lives of the people of all communities in Sri Lanka after the elimination of terrorism.
When it was revealed that Rajiv Gandhi was killed on the orders of Prabhakaran, a former Foreign Secretary told me in New Delhi that India will never forgive the LTTE for directly interfering with the Indian democratic system by killing a leader of the main political party that was about to come to power once again. This senior officer, a Tamil, had predicted that every future Government, whether Congress or BJP or any other party would not deviate from that policy.
That is even evident today from the Modi Government’s reluctance to pardon the Rajiv killers even after they served more than 30 years of prison terms. Neither New Delhi nor Colombo, for that matter, will forgive Solheim for covering up the LTTE crimes for 25 years since the Norwegian peace envoy commenced peace negotiations in 1996.
Now it is for the Western nations and the UNHRC members supporting them to understand the nature of LTTE cruelties and the imperative need which existed then to free the country and the people from the dreaded terrorists, instead of condemning the Sri Lankan Government’s Armed Forces on alleged human rights violations at every forum.
The West always displayed their partially towards the LTTE by trying to find reasons for their terrorist actions. The West-approved negotiator Solheim refrained from disclosing true facts such as Prabhakaran’s direct involvement in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination.
“Balasingham told me Prabhakaran admitted to the killing of Rajiv Gandhi in their private discussions. Bala was not in the slightest doubt as to who ordered the attack. Bala never lied to me. I see no reason why he would have lied on this,” Solheim finally revealed last year.
After the collapse of the peace process too, Solheim played a different tune. When Indian journalist Padma Rao Sunderji asked him if he was acceptable to New Delhi he said there was a lot of skepticism in Delhi initially. “What will these pink, Christian Europeans with no real knowledge of South Asia make of problems on this continent? But at the end, we were not only acceptable to India, we had the closest relationship. After every visit to Sri Lanka, I went to New Delhi to inform the political leadership and the Indian intelligence about what I have achieved or not achieved.”
While India accepted him, he betrayed them by keeping the evidence of the Rajiv assassination to himself. Solheim added that when he met Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh in New Delhi he asked if Solheim was a patient man. “I said, no, no, I’m not patient, how can we be, when people are dying in Sri Lanka every month? Mothers are crying, children are dying, how can we be patient?” To that, Singh said: “Do you know the way to the Indira Gandhi International Airport? Go. Buy a ticket — making sure it is a one-way ticket — to Europe. Because if you are not patient, you will only run into problems here. If you take a 10 to 15 year perspective on the Sri Lankan conflict, then you may do something good. “Of course, he (Singh) was right, I was wrong. We learned our lessons and became patient.”
Solheim revealed that the LTTE had refused to accept a Federal Solution from the beginning. “Neither we, nor India, US, China, EU or anyone else would have agreed to divide Sri Lanka. The aim of the peace process was a Federal Solution to Sri Lanka. The vast majority of Tamils would have been happy with that,” he said. He failed to give any reason for the purpose of his peace process when he knew that the LTTE would never agree to a Federal Solution.
In his twitter message Solheim also accused Prabhakaran of failing to compromise by not accepting an offer to evacuate Tamil civilians during the final stages of the war in 2009. “I accuse Prabhakaran of failing to compromise and not accepting the offer to evacuate Tamil civilians.” Then he put the blame on the Government: “It was the Sri Lanka Army who indiscriminately shelled and bombed people to death. I wish we, as mediators, had the powers to influence the parties to make wiser decisions.”
Solheim’s reluctant revelation of facts proved the predicament of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces due to the intransigence of Prabhakaran. When a terrorist was not ready to surrender and decided to fight, what could the Armed Forces do? Solheim has an obligation to tell the truth and explain why the Armed Forces were compelled to eradicate terrorism to his friends representing the West at the UNHRC.