Rajiv Gandhi gave his bullet-proof vest to Prabakaran

The then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi gave his bullet-proof jacket to LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran in Delhi, besides Indian Rs 50 lakh as the first instalment of Rs 5 crore aid to the LTTE, and wanted the LTTE to allow the implementation of the Indo-Lanka accord, AIADMK leader Panruti S Ramachandran said in an interview to News Today in India.

Ramachandran said the accord was signed in his presence as the then Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, MGR, had deputed him as his emissary to Colombo to be at hand for the agreement over the pact, Panruti said.

Panruti is virtually the sole survivor of the accord as the other principal parties, including Rajiv Gandhi, Jayawardene, Premadasa, Prabakaran and MGR are no more.

Recounting the parleys held by Rajiv Gandhi with MGR and himself, and also with Prabakaran and other leaders of Sri Lankan Tamils, Panruti said Rajiv had sent Indian Ambassador Dixit to meet MGR and secure his approval for the Indo-Lankan accord.

“I was also present at the meeting. The accord contained several features which included elections to a single provincial council of Sri Lanka’s north and east which for the first time indirectly conceded the Tamil homeland concept to the island’s Tamils. The accord provided for rule by the LTTE and others through a council in the Tamil areas. The Indian government was the guarantor of the accord which was unusual in the world where another country was asked to guarantee the pact.”

“MGR had a dilemma as though he was in favour of the accord and wanted its implementation as requested by Rajiv Gandhi, he held discussions with Prabakaran but could not convince him to accept it. MGR was upset that he tried and failed to convince Prabakaran who was adamant that he could not accept anything less than Tamil Eelam country,” recalled Panruti.

Later, the Union government invited MGR to Delhi for the final round of talks before Rajiv’s departure to Colombo. “MGR brought me along to Delhi. After discussions with Rajiv Gandhi when he urged us to secure Prabakaran’s approval, MGR and I again held talks with Prabakaran at Tamil Nadu House in Delhi. Prabakaran was assisted by Balasingham. Prabakaran expressed his inability to support the accord as the LTTE stood for Tamil Eelam,” said Ramachandran.

When Prabakaran met Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister said India would not ask the LTTE to sign the accord. It merely wanted the LTTE to allow the peaceful implementation of the pact and not stand in its way. Rajiv also told Prabakaran that the LTTE needs not lay down arms.

Prabakaran was told that the LTTE could bury their arms at a safe place in Tamilnadu from where it could retrieve them at a later date, if needed. India also offered LTTE the chief ministership of the Tamil province of north and east, and administration through a council which could also include other Tamil leaders.

Rajiv gave his bullet-proof jacket to Prabakaran and also Rs 50 lakh as first instalment of Rs 5 crore aid to the LTTE, Panruti said.

“MGR deputed me to attend the signing of the accord in Colombo on his behalf. I found that the entire capital was under curfew and there was scarcely any movement outside. The accord was signed by Rajiv Gandhi and Jayawardene in my presence. However, it was clear that the Buddhist clergy and the Sinhalese leaders were against the accord as they felt it gave too many rights to the island’s Tamils. Rajiv Gandhi was also attacked with a rifle by a Sri Lankan navy sailor but was saved in time,” said Panruti.

Subsequently, at a public function on the Marina in Chennai to celebrate the signing of the accord, Rajiv Gandhi publicly thanked MGR for his support to the accord, Panruti said. (Colombo Gazette)

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