Did India compensate the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after the 1987 Indo-Lanka pact and the dispatch of Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka? The US administration believed so, according to a cable sent by its embassy in Chennai and released by Wikileaks.
Reproduced by the Times of India, the cable dated April 5, 1988 cites newspaper reports, which quoted J N Dixit, then Indian envoy to Sri Lanka that a stipend was agreed upon and was to be paid to the LTTE by the Indian government in view of the tax loss it suffered after IPKF was sent. The US cable said Rs 50 Indian lakhs was the compensation paid to the LTTE in July 1987 and only one payment was made before September that year when LTTE walked out of the deal over its participation in the interim council.
An unnamed LTTE spokesman in Madras is quoted as saying that the payment was part of a larger secret package of guarantees, which Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi offered LTTE leader V Prabhakaran in July 1987 to get him to agree to the bilateral accord, said the cable. “We were in the jungles when the amount was said to have been paid to the LTTE. There was no communication from the ministry of external affairs to us about the payment made to get Prabhakaran to agree to the terms. It must have been a move by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW),” said Col (retd) R Hariharan, an analyst of Sri Lankan affairs, who served in the IPKF.
Other features of the package for the LTTE included an assurance of an offer of 7 out of 12 seats to enable it to form a majority in the interim provincial council in the north and east of Sri Lanka. India said it would route Rs 1 billion through the interim council to rehabilitate Jaffna besides $40million that was agreed upon by New Delhi at an earlier consortium meeting in Paris. The Indian government also promised to develop a police force after the formation of the interim council. Despite all this, the deal fell through almost the same day, said the cable.
As a parting shot, the embassy expressed doubt over the agreement itself. It said, “Left unsaid is an indication whether the package suggested above is still on the table in India-LTTE talks, which apparently have been going on for sometime.” Quoting a BBC correspondent, the cable said talks between the LTTE and India began in Madras in February 1988, but fell through a week later.