The Pirabhakaran Phenomenon

Sachi Sri Kantha
[13 June 2002]

Rajiv Gandhi Assassination
 - One Spoke in the South Asian Wheel of Intrigue

A Peep into Dave Barry’s Revisionist History

I will conclude my analysis on Rajiv Gandhi assassination at the end of this chapter. Before I sum up, I wish to discuss cross-border crimes with links to the Intelligence operatives, and their relevance to major assassinations of heads of state in South Asia since 1975. As a suitable step to introduce this theme, I provide a humorous segment from the pen of Dave Barry, the noted American humorist.

Telling the truth – which the name-brand historians refrain from telling – and that too in mocking manner, is an art of talented humorists. Dave Barry who has perfected this art wrote in 1989 what he called a ‘revisionist history’ of the United Nations. The truth-oozing humor of Barry allows me to explain the dilemma of India’s policy wonks and the RAW operatives. So, first to an excerpt from Berry’s book, Dave Barry Slept Here:

“The United Nations consists of two main bodies.

1.       The General Assembly, which is, in the generous spirit of the UN Charter, open to just about every little dirt bag nation in the world. It has no power. Its functions are to (a) have formal receptions; (b) listen to the Grateful Dead on headphones; and (c) denounce Israel for everything, including sunspots.

2.       The Security Council, which is limited to nations that have mastered the concept of plumbing. It is very powerful. Its functions are to: (a) pass sweeping resolutions intended to end bloody conflicts; and then (b) veto, ignore, or walk out on these resolutions.”

Dave Barry’s use of euphemistic ‘plumbing’ for notorious spying is a beauty. India’s dilemma, for the past five decades has been, that in UN hierarchy it is grouped into the ‘dirt-bag nations’ without power, though in terms of its population size and land mass area, it deserves a place in the Security Council. China, the only other nation comparable to India, in terms of population, heritage and land mass, has a seat in the UN Security Council.

The ignominy of being grouped into the dirt-bag nations pricked the pride of Indian Prime Ministers, especially Indira Gandhi (who instituted the RAW for flexing muscles into the ‘diplomatic plumbing activities’ of India’s neighbors) and her son Rajiv Gandhi (who engaged the Indian army for muscle flexing purposes with RAW providing a mediocre side-kick performance). It is not an exaggeration to assert that the assassinations of Indira and Rajiv have to be viewed with a karmic mirror, reflecting the inner dirt of the ‘plumbing activities’ of India’s Intelligence operatives. This angle will hardly be touched by the Indian policy wonks like J.N.Dixit and pan-handling professors of India’s punditry circuit like S.D.Muni and V.Suryanarayanan.

Rajiv’s Assassination: ‘Just One in a Bunch in South Asia’

To fully comprehend the motive of those who were behind Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991, in my opinion, it should not be studied in isolation, since it was just one in a bunch of untimely deaths. To repeat, it is one of many assassinations/untimely deaths of nominal heads of state in South Asia, which had occurred since 1975 – an arbitrary, but convenient, date in which the Americans had to quit Vietnam after nearly 15 years of plodding to defeat communism in Asia. I provide the following list.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh: assassinated, on Aug.15, 1975 by military men.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan: hanged by his successor Zia ul Haq, on April 4, 1979.

Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh: assassinated, on May 30, 1981 by military men.

Indira Gandhi of India: assassinated, on October 31, 1984 by her personal bodyguards.

Zia ul Haq: killed in a mysterious mid-air explosion of Pakistani Air Force Plane on August 19, 1988.

Rajiv Gandhi: assassinated by a suicide bomber on May 21, 1991.

Ranasinghe Premadasa: assassinated by a suicide bomber on May 1, 1993.

King Birendra (and his immediate family): ‘reportedly’ assassinated by his son Dipendra, the Crown Prince, who himself ‘committed suicide’ on June 1, 2001.

In the above list, I have excluded the executions of nominal heads of state from Afghanistan, since 1978: Mohammad Daoud and his family in April 1978, Mohammad Taraki in October 1979, Hafizullah Amin in December 1979 and Dr. Mohammad Najibullah in September 1996. The last mentioned was a Communist head of state, propped by India and supported by its RAW operatives, on behalf of India’s nominal ally in the political chess board.

In analysing complex issues, I’m a follower of noted science essayist, Stephen Jay Gould, who died recently on May 20, 2002. In introducing his 7th volume of science essays, Dinosaur in a Haystack (1996), Gould wrote elegantly, as follows:

“I am an essay machine; cite me a generality, and I will give you six tidbits of genuine illustration. A detail, by itself, is blind; a concept without a concrete illustration is empty. The conjunction defines the essay as a genre, and I draw connections in a manner that feels automatic to me.”

By using Stephen Jay Gould’s measure, I assert two facts. First, a generality: that ‘plumbing’ – as indicated by Dave Barry – is a passion for the Intelligence operatives of muscle-flexing political powers in South Asia. Second, the details: that quite a number of nominal heads of state (including Rajiv Gandhi) in South Asia have regularly been eliminated. Other regions in the global political map have not seen such a ‘regular harvesting of heads’ is very much undeniable. Thus, rather than focusing on Rajiv’s assassination as an isolated detail, it is prudent to “draw connections”, as indicated by Stephen Jay Gould. Why this simple deductive step of ‘connecting the dots’ is shunned by the government-controlled (or government-manipulated) media and media experts of South Asian nations is not beyond comprehension.

The Role of Puppet Masters and the ‘Local Relays’

That I’m not alone in thinking about the existence of links among these assassinations to the ‘plumbing industry’ of political powers is telling from the following observation made by Tariq Ali, little more than an year ago, while discussing the assassinations of Mujibur Rahman and Indira Gandhi and the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, all of which occurred within a decade of 1975 and 1984. Excerpts:

“…It may be true that the CIA is no longer as effective a killing machine as Mossad, but the period I was discussing was at the height of the Cold War. In 1973, Nixon and Kissinger had carefully organized and orchestrated the overthrow of Salvador Allende. The CIA took part in this operation, as did the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), which usually deals directly with foreign military personnel. The death of Allende and Chilean democracy haunted [the then] all three leaders in South Asia. Mrs Gandhi saw in it an image of her own future.

It is hardly a secret that the military takeovers in Pakistan in 1958 and 1977 were approved by the United States. DIA involvement in the latter was much talked about at the time. General Alam, a senior Corps Commander who was against toppling Bhutto, was shocked to receive a reprimand from the US Military Attaché. Soon after General Zia gained power it became obvious that he wanted to get rid of Bhutto, but if Washington had seriously objected to the hanging, it would not have taken place…

Before he was assassinated the Bangladeshi leader [Mujibur Rahman] had just merged his party with the local pro-Moscow Communists, declared Bangladesh to be a one-party state and agreed to sign a Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Moscow. The US already regarded him as an enemy in any case, and had done so ever since Nixon and Kissinger decided to ‘tilt’ in Pakistan’s favour during the civil war of 1971-72.

The US often asserts its power through local relays, finding this more effective than direct CIA involvement. Sometimes a combination of the two strategies becomes necessary…” [London Review of Books, vol.23, no.10, May 24, 2001]

Tariq Ali’s observations, should be read in association with a recent, scathing commentary of Wayne Madsen, a Washington DC-based investigative journalist on under-reported news and analysis, which connects the dots between the ‘local relays’ in India and the sole super-power’s ‘plumbing units’. It provides a plausible cause to solving the mystery of the Royal Family massacre in Kathmandu of June 1, 2001. Excerpts:

“Apparently, intelligence agencies allied to the United States, like those of India (a new ‘strategic partner’ of the United States in the ‘War on Terrorism’ and the ‘War to Protect Regional U.S. Oil and Natural Gas Interests’), have decided to take a cue from President Bush’s ‘shoot to kill’ order against activists and independence leaders. On February 11 [2002], a senior separatist leader of the Tripura (northeast India) independence movement was shot and killed by Indian security forces. The assassinated leader was Benjamin Hrangkhawl, a senior leader of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), a Christian-dominated separatist group. Hrangkhawl had arrived in Tripura from neighboring Bangladesh.

According to the BBC, the state Police Intelligence Chief Kishore Jha, said the killing of Mr.Hrangkhawl was ‘a major success’. Indian intelligence is now pressing Bhutan and Bangladesh to arrest and extradite separatist refugees in those countries. The King of Bhutan and Prime Minister of Bangladesh might want to look at what happened to the entire Royal Family of Nepal last June when the late King decided to negotiate with leftist guerrillas rather than fight them. According to unblemished sources in Kathmandu, the king and his family were quickly dispatched by a Nepali army commando unit trained at the time by US Special Operation forces sent by US Pacific Commander in Chief Adm.Dennis Blair (he’s the same guy who propped up Gen.Wiranto with special training while the good general was committing genocide in East Timor). What was to become the Pentagon’s Office of Strategic Influence (PSYOPs division) prepared a story, with the assistance of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) intelligence agency, that the King and his family were murdered as a result of the Crown Prince going nuts with automatic weapons after being forlorn over his mother’s refusal to allow him to marry a commoner. The entire Western media bought that story faster than George Bush nosediving after choking on a pretzel. The media also bought that one.” [The News Insider editorial, with the caption, ‘The CIA’s death squad body count continues to pile up’, March 29, 2002; accessed via internet on May 23,2002.]

King Birendra’s assassination and the yarn spun around it by the mainstream Indian media which served as the first outlet to the news of the macabre murders in the Kathmandu palace is repulsive. In the suppression of details which challenge the common sense, I could trace parallels between Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and the palatial murders of King Birendra and his immediate family. That the assassins in both examples did not live long also conceals the hand of the prime conspirators, enabling the Intelligence operatives in India to manipulate the pliable media. Here is an excerpt from what the ABC News Online presented in anticipation of the first anniversary of the Royal massacre in Kathmandu:

“…While a commission set up by Gyanendra, [who succeeded his elder brother King Birendra] laid the full blame for the massacre on Dipendra [the then Crown Prince], the death of a king who had reigned for nearly three decades still seems incredible to many Nepalese…

How could one gunman mow down nine people at the most tightly guarded building in the country? How could the future queen and crown prince, Komal and Paras, both survive the bloodbath at Narayanhiti Palace? And how could the right-handed Dipendra die from a self-inflicted bullet to the left side of his head? The most asked question is the most basic: how could a prince groomed from birth to assume the throne of the Shah dynasty suddenly go berserk and kill his own parents at dinner?

Some say the pressure from his mother and from Devyani, who was several years his senior and feared she was passing child-bearing age, pushed him over the edge. Another, more controversial, explanation is that the queen did not want her royal son to marry a woman with roots in India – the powerful neighbor whose heavy cultural and political influence is deeply resented by Nepal’s elite…”[ABC News Online, May 29, 2002]

Some may still naively believe the story that Dipendra’s romance with Devyani Rana, a daughter from a noble family in India, sealed the fate of Nepal’s King Birendra and his immediate family as plausible. But, more convincing is the fact that there has been ‘bad blood’ between India and Nepal since Rajiv Gandhi’s prime ministerial period, due to the ‘plumbing activities’ perpetrated by the muscle-flexing intelligence operatives manned by the RAW agency. During the hearing of the M.C.Jain Commission, which investigated the Rajiv assassination trial, embarrassing evidence buttressing this fact was produced from an agent’s report of RAW’s station reporting an unverified source that the then Queen Aishwarya of Nepal had negotiated a ‘hit’ on Rajiv Gandhi through one Major General Aditya Shamser Jang Bahadur for 10 crore Indian rupees! [Source: India Today magazine, Dec.1, 1997]

I should not be misunderstood. I’m not advocating that Queen Aishwarya of Nepal was instrumental in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, and that her assassination was a ‘return hit’ instigated by the Indian operatives. Rather, it is my contention that Rajiv Gandhi assassination should not be viewed as an isolated killing of a member of a prominent Indian family, but as a single damaged spoke of South Asian wheel of political intrigue.

However, for the over-taxed and constantly blamed law enforcement personnel in India, the LTTE sympathizers who were then domiciled in Tamil Nadu were convenient targets for apprehension. Just to make their case attractive to the mass media, these Indian officials then tagged the name of Pirabhakaran as the first accused in the charge-sheet, released exactly one year following Rajiv’s assassination, in May 1992. Just two weeks following the tragic event of Sriperumbudur, Kondath Mohandas – who could read the mind-set of the Indian police personnel – had predicted this type of development. Moses Manoharan, the then Madras reporter for Reuter, had observed the following:

“He [i.e, Mohandas] said a three-month government deadline for a report on the assassination might put undue pressure on investigators and tempt them to make evidence fit the theory. ‘I know the psychology of police in this country. If you set time limits, the police will come up with an accused.” [Asahi Evening News, Tokyo, June 8, 1991]

Kondath Mohandas was the Tamil Nadu’s chief police officer, during MGR’s period as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. It is less than a surprise to note after 11 years, that what he prophesied did happen eventually.

That the role of puppet masters and their local relays is neither Tariq Ali’s nor my fantasy is consolidated by a provocative opinion-piece by Major Paul Marks of USA, which appeared in the Joint Forces Quarterly (Washington DC) of Spring 2000. Advocating a role for [only] seven US military advisors in Sri Lanka to support the Sri Lankan Armed Forces (SLAF), Major Marks had highlighted the need for ‘intelligence’ and ‘infiltration’.

I quote below the relevant passages from the opinion piece of Major Marks, since by reading between the lines, one can sense the extent to which camaraderie existed between the RAW’s intelligence operatives in India and the Sri Lankan armed forces. According to Major Marks,

“SLAF has weaknesses in doctrine, training, and force development. While a staff college was recently established, the majority of officers have one year or less of formal training. Foreign training is primarily done in India with a small number of officers going to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Britain and the United States. [Note: In this sentence and those following below, italics added for emphasis, by Sri Kantha.] There are branch schools, but in-unit training is the norm. Because of the rapid growth of the army, few officers have any expertise in planning and coordinating large operations. There is no intelligence school. Operational demands necessitated by war have made training and education a second priority.

Overall, SLAF is a professional military – human rights violations, common in the 1980s, are declining – but after 18 years its tactical and operational successes have come to naught because of the lack of an overarching strategic concept to bring the conflict to a close.

U.S. military advisors in Sri Lanka should focus on preparation strategy, operational planning, and assistance in functional skills augmented by instruction by Special Operations Forces on specific tactical skills such as air assault, naval infiltration, and counternaval infiltration. There is also a need for doctrine development that ties functional skills into a battle-focused training system. The goal would be defeat of LTTE in three years and the withdrawal of advisors within five. [A cautious Note: In Sri Kantha’s reading, this could be interpreted as probably an euphemistic wish-objective for elimination of Pirabhakaran by foul means. Otherwise, on realistic terms, how could anyone with sense expect that the SLAF which had failed for 18 years to defeat LTTE can accomplish the task within the next 3 years, with the help of mere seven military advisors from the USA?] Measures of effectiveness could include:

- adopting a national security and military strategy within six months

- developing a combined plan with India to prevent use of Tamil Nadu as a rebel base

- reorganizing the chain of command and theater geometry within six months

- establishing a training center for infantry battalions and combined arms teams in a year

- organizing intelligence courses for all personnel serving in intelligence positions

- improving operational level tasks (intelligence, logistics and fires) within 18 months

- introducing effective combined interdiction operations with the Indian navy in two years

- denying the insurgents of re-supply by sea within a year.

These objectives could be accomplished with a relatively modest advisory force. The seven military personnel required for this effort include:

1. advises joint staff on national security strategy, national military strategy, operational planning, and theater geometry.

2. advises joint staff on operational planning.

3. advises joint staff on intelligence collection, dissemination, and training, and on establishing intelligence school.

4. advises on operational logistics and reorganization of logistics systems.

5. advises air force for training and coordination of close air support.

6. advises navy on coastal patrolling and interdiction operations.

7. senior noncommissioned officer – advises training and doctrine command on establishment of joint unit training center.”

This provocative commentary, dated Spring 2000, by Major Paul Marks appeared around the time when the Sri Lankan armed forces suffered their humiliating defeat in the Elephant Pass and Jaffna peninsula. It euphemistically indicates the thinking of Pirabhakaran’s adversaries in eliminating him. Above stated point no.3 on intelligence collection, dissemination and training need special notice.

Few weeks later, on June 7, 2000, the then minister of Industrial Development, C.V.Goonaratne died in a bomb blast while heading a procession for the official first ‘War Heroes’ Day’ in his own constituency of Ratmalana. I wish to include this untimely death to my analysis on the assassinations of nominal heads of South Asia, solely for the reason that Goonaratne, at the time of his death, was a front runner to the prime minister stakes in Sri Lanka, according to the anonymous correspondent to the Economist magazine. Since the Economist magazine has remained nasty and condescending to Pirabhakaran and LTTE since mid-1980s, what it published in reporting Goonaratne’s assassination cannot be thought of as favoring Pirabhakaran by any stretch of imagination. Excerpts:

“…Who set off the bomb is unclear. The police say it was the work of a suicide bomber. Ministers say the bomber was a Tamil Tiger, since the Tigers have used suicide bombers in previous attacks in the capital. As on such occasions in the past, the Tigers have remained silent. In suspicious-minded Colombo, not everyone is prepared to believe that the Tigers are the only killers in a country where political assassination has become a way of life. But if the Tigers were not responsible, who might have killed Mr. Gunaratne in his own stronghold?

Mr. Gunaratne was one of the few ministers whose loyalty to Mrs. Kumaratunga was beyond question. It was widely believed that he would soon be made prime minister, replacing the ailing 84-year-old Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the president’s mother. Mr.Gunaratna would have had plenty of enemies…” [June 10, 2000]

The correspondent for Economist further stated how the Sri Lankan army was helped by Israeli operatives in preventing the complete takeover of Jaffna by the LTTE’s forces in May 2000. To quote,

“The army’s successes in the north are largely due to assistance provided by Israel. It has provided arms of quality to match the Tigers’. Some reports say that Israeli officers are now helping to direct the army’s operations. To pay for the arms, Sri Lanka is digging even deeper into its pockets to increase defence spending.

The political cost may be more difficult to assess. Israel now has full diplomatic ties with Sri Lanka for the first time, which will not go down well with the Islamist lobby in Colombo. Moreover, though someone appears to have put backbone into Sri Lanka’s previously demoralized troops, it was evidently not the generals. Pushed aside by the Israelis, they may feel almost as aggrieved as the Tigers.” [ibid]

Thus, one could infer that the Israeli hands which began ‘fishing’ in the troubled South Asian political waters since 1984, have entrenched strongly in the region including Sri Lanka. They have been accommodated by Pirabhakaran’s adversaries, beginning from J.R.Jayewardene and Lalith Athulathmudali, to Chandrika Kumaratunga. The signature of Israeli operatives is visible in some of the slick campaigns against LTTE in the military and non-military encounters. That in the early 1980s, while Rajiv Gandhi was learning his first steps in politics as a rookie, Jayewardene also roped in Pakistan’s dictator Gen. Zia ul Haq to aid the Sri Lankan army is an open secret. Thus, it is not out-of-place to look back on my brief obituary note on Pakistan’s General Zia ul Haq. In that 1988 note, I also had inserted my assessment on Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure as the Indian prime minister for the first time.

My Obituary Note on Gen. Zia ul Haq

Excerpts from my obituary note on Gen. Zia ul Haq are as follows:

“In mid-August, by a sudden hair-raising trick resembling that of a master magician, the Grim Reaper zapped the life of Pakistan’s military dictator Zia ul Haq… Since 1983 General Zia was one of the central figures involved in the ethnic turmoil in Sri Lanka. The military dictator he is, Zia termed up with the Jayewardene government to suppress political opposition (both Tamil and Sinhalese) in Sri Lanka. Most importantly, General Zia provided military help (armaments, training facilities and personnel) to Jayewardene’s regime for use against Tamil civilians and Tamil rebels. Many Indian journalists had reported that Pakistan’s military pilots were employed for the aerial bombing in the Tamil regions of Sri Lanka…

It is an open secret that both, Zia and Jayewardene, shared a common professional enmity to Indira Gandhi. After Indira Gandhi’s tragic death in 1984, her son Rajiv was irked by the Zia-Jayewardene alliance. It had been reported in Indian and international press that the deployment of Indian military personnel in Sri Lanka was made to severe the Jayewardene-Zia military ties, which had created a mess in the southern front of India.

It should be interpreted that, rather than being a savior of Sri Lankan Tamils, Rajiv Gandhi was acting more in concern for his own country’s territorial defence. So Eelam Tamil issue became a pawn in international power play between India and Pakistan. Zia’s intrusion into Sri Lankan military politics was one of the causes for Rajiv’s flexing of military muscles in the Northern and Eastern regions of the island. Of course, I’m not defending Rajiv Gandhi’s actions since August 1987. But, given the situation he faced (and importantly, the inexperience he has had in dealing with the wily dictators Zia and Jayewardene), one could grasp Rajiv’s predicament. Rajiv’s mother Indira knew the tricks of the trade of how to keep ‘cunning foxes’ in their kennel. But Rajiv acted like a novice in international politics. And this explains his bungling of strategy since Aug. 1987.

Now that the Grim Reaper had played His card in removing General Zia from the scene, one fervently hopes that Rajiv Gandhi will come to his senses to provide some leadership, in which his grandfather and mother excelled themselves.” [Tamil Times, London, October 1988, p.15]

Though in this brief note I had not mentioned Pirabhakaran by name, I had provided the context for Rajiv Gandhi’s entanglement with LTTE in 1987. I will never claim that Rajiv Gandhi would have read and listened to my opinion; but in hindsight, one could see that Rajiv did change his mind on his relationship towards Pirabhakaran in the first half of 1989, as confirmed by his successor V.P.Singh in his interview to the Frontline magazine in 1997. [see, Pirabhakaran Phenomenon – part 34]

The Game of Creating a Conspirator from Press Releases

Boris Yeltsin, Sonia Gandhi and Jayalalitha share three features in common. First, in 1990s all three had name recognition in India, for being politicians or in the case of Sonia Gandhi, a politician in waiting. Secondly, as of today in 2002, all three are still living. But, many Tamils are not aware of the third fact, which, in the scheme of pea-brained Intelligence operatives in India, all three were targets of ‘LTTE assassination plans’ in the 1990s. Here is a chronologically arranged selection of RAW-supplied news plants which appeared in the national press of India.

Item 1: “LTTE suicide squad in Tamil Nadu”. The Hindu International edition, March 28, 1992.

Item 2: “LTTE Back in Business: The Hit List – J.Jeyalalitha, D.R.Kartikeyan, V.Ramamurthy, S.Sripal.” – news feature by Anirudhya Mitra, India Today, April 15, 1992, pp.28-29.

Item 3: “Tamil militants tried to kill Yeltsin: aide.” The Hindu International edition, February 27, 1993.

Item 4: “Threat from air to Jayalalitha?” The Hindu International edition, May 15, 1993.

Item 5: “LTTE car bomb threat to Sonia – by a Special Correspondent, The Hindu, May 25, 1999.

When I analyzed these five planted items, I found a marked correlation with their dates of appearance and some relevant dates in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination trial. Items 1 and 2 appeared within two months ahead of the public release of SIT’s charge sheet in May 1992, implicating Pirabhakaran as the first offender. Items 3 and 4 appeared before the commencement of the Rajiv Assassination trial at the Poonamallee Court Complex in Madras on May 5, 1993. The item 5 appeared just two weeks after the Supreme Court appeal verdict on May 11, 1999, when 19 of the 26 accused punished by the Trial Court verdict were released from gaol. Though all five of these news-plants deserve reproduction for the high absurdity quotient packed in them, I chose Items 3 and 4 for critical overview.

In a news brief dated lined, “Moscow, Feb.19, 1993”, the smut-selling Hindu newspaper Incorporated informed its readers,

“The Indian security service in coordination with Russian VIP security department officials foiled a plot by Sri Lankan Tamil militants to assassinate the President, Mr.Boris Yeltsin, during his visit to India last month, according to the chief of the presidential security, Lt.Gen.Mikhail Barsukov. He told the influential daily Nezavisimoya Gazeta in an interview that the Tamil terrorists had undergone special training and had had combat experience in Lebanon. The terrorists had wanted to attract international attention and force some of their conditions on India, including the release of arrested terrorists, Lt.Gen.Barsukov said.”

Though LTTE was not mentioned by name, other tangential references such as the use of ‘terrorist’ term in the news release indicated that the RAW operatives had fed the story to plant in the Moscow daily. Only quoted named source was Lt.Gen.Mikhail Barsukov, who in all probability would have been a toady to Yeltsin, the then Russian leader. What was missing in the planted assassination-plot story was, answers to questions, ‘Who was the assassin?’ ‘Where the assassin was captured’ and ‘How the assassin attempted to kill Yeltsin?’

If the Yeltsin-assassination attempt (Item 3) published in the Hindu newspaper was a yawn-producing yarn, the assassination attempt on Jayalalitha (Item 4) published by the same Hindu newspaper ten weeks later was nothing but hog’s fart. I reproduce it in full, for its humor:

“The reported sighting of an unidentified glider-type low-noise aircraft that was said to have made a couple of sorties over the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Ms.Jayalalitha’s residence in Madras in the early hours of May 3 [1993] has caused concern to the State Government and had provided political grist to her opponents.

According to an official release, the plane with no lights was noticed by the men on sentry duty at about 3 am. They immediately alerted the senior security officers. Ms.Jayalalitha is a ‘high security VIP’ and the State police has intelligence information that she could be attacked by the LTTE from the air. Airport sources said there was no aircraft movement over Madras between 2 am and 4 am that day and no conventional flying object could escape their notice. Also, glider or training aircraft are not permitted to fly during night.

As civil and defence authorities started checking out what the flying object could be, the State Government requested the Centre to provide aerial cover, including anti-aircraft equipment, for Ms.Jayalalitha and also declare the residential complex where her house is located as ‘no flying zone’. The matter was also raised in Parliament.

Following the request, the Centre not only decided to extend aerial cover for the residence of Ms.Jayalalitha, but banned the flying of radio-controlled planes in all the metropolitan cities. Such microlite aircraft are not manufactured in India. Even as these decisions were announced, the State Unit of the Congress (I) ruling at the Centre and the DMK dubbed it all a ‘fabricated story’ and an attempt by the AIADMK to regain its lost sympathy. To which an AIADMK spokesman replied: ‘It is not only an attempt to politicize every issue but most inhuman’. He said that low-flying gliders could not be tracked by radars.”

If I teach an elementary course in journalism, I would use this news report as a good example of how to prepare a ‘planted story’ to fool gullible readers. Not a single mentioned source in the news report has been identified by name and age. Who provided the ‘official release’? Who were the ‘men on sentry duty’ at Jayalalitha’s residence? Who were the ‘senior security officers?’ Who were the representatives of State police? Who were the ‘Airport sources?’ Who were the ‘civil and defence authorities?’, ‘Who took decision on behalf of the euphemistic ‘Centre’ in India? Who were the ‘Congress (I) and DMK’ persons in Tamilnadu who called the report as the ‘fabricated story? Who was the ‘AIADMK spokesman’? The smut-licking Hindu newspaper editors would have fooled only themselves by inserting a lame denial to the news report from the Tamil Nadu state’s Congress Party official and the DMK party representative within the news story. But even these persons have not been identified properly.

My Conclusion on Rajiv Gandhi Assassination:

It is to explore the multi-faceted, inter-connected links of political assassinations in South Asia, I delved into the minute details of Rajiv Gandhi assassination and the assassination trial, as well as the crude attempts by the India’s intelligence operatives to frame Pirabhakaran as the prime conspirator. Unlike other journalists and political analysts in Colombo, Chennai and elsewhere (including regular commentators on LTTE such as Subramanian Swamy, T.S.Subramanian, D.B.S.Jeyaraj and Rohan Gunaratna) who have parrot-mouthed the news-plants from the Indian intelligence operatives, I took the trouble to study the Supreme Court Appeal verdicts delivered by Justice Wadhwa, Justice Thomas and Justice Quadri, page by page.

In 1992, I pointed out the similarities between the John F. Kennedy assassination and that of Rajiv Gandhi assassination. Just as a convincing answer to the question ‘Who killed Kennedy in 1963?’ remains elusive even after 39 years, a definite answer to ‘Who really killed Rajiv in 1991?’ still remains a secret. However, Sinhalese adversaries of Pirabhakaran and LTTE in Sri Lanka, who made a serious assassination attempt to kill Rajiv in 1987, have harvested much political mileage –without any shame in their own hypocrisy and perfidy – by tagging Pirabhakaran’s name prominently with Rajiv assassination.

Thus it remains a fact that, since 1991, Pirabhakaran’s name and the reputation of Eelam Tamils have been markedly tarnished by the half-baked analyses from many self-serving politicians, quasi-literate pundits and media hacks in India and Sri Lanka. One had to wait till May 1999 for the delivery of the Supreme Court Appeals verdict to study the intricate details of how the prosecution team formulated its case against Pirabhakaran, as the prime conspirator. Thus, the existing pre-1999 literature implicating Pirabhakaran’s role in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination is strongly biased and devoid of factual merit. As I have analyzed previously (see, The Pirabhakaran Phenomenon, parts 28, 29, 30 and 31), the verdicts of the three Supreme Court Justices who heard the appeal on the case, do not convincingly prove that Pirabhakaran was the prime conspirator in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination. Furthermore, contrary to the myth propagated by his adversaries in the 1990s, Pirabhakaran was not under trial in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination trial which concluded in May 1999.

A few sentences on Subramanian Swamy’s book The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi: Unanswered Questions and Unasked Queries (2000) is pertinent here. In presenting his case against Pirabhakaran to the English-reading public, Swamy has cited out of context from the verdicts of the Supreme Court Justices, for his convenience. Even the title of his book is a misnomer, since first-third of the text describes how he functioned as the Minister of Commerce and Law in the short-lived Chandrasekhar Cabinet during 1990-1991, and the last-third of the text presents polemics on Swamy’s numerous opponents in Indian politics, judiciary and journalism. Those who have been specifically targeted by Swamy in his book include, Congress Party politicians Arjun Singh and Mani Shankar Aiyar, other politicians like Ram Jethmalani, Jayalalitha and Veeramani, bureaucrat-turned politician T.N.Seshan, Commissioner Milap Chand Jain and journalist Vir Sanghvi. Unlike Swamy who indulges in his pet theory that Pirabhakaran was the chief conspirator in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, others who have been mentioned above have publicly pointed an accusing finger on Mossad operatives rather than Pirabhakaran. The genesis of Swamy’s book lies in this difference, and Swamy, a leading Israeli lobbyist in India, has accused those who differ from his view as acolytes of Pirabhakaran!

If Pirabhakaran is not the prime conspirator, question arises who then are the real culprits, and I provide clues to who could fit into that category (see, The Pirabhakaran Phenomenon, parts 32, 33 and 35). How reliable I’m in my assessment of who could be the real culprits? I conclude my analysis by repeating the sentences written by Charles Darwin, in his conclusion to the historical work, The Descent of Man (1871):

“Many of the views which have been advanced are highly speculative, and some no doubt will prove erroneous; but I have in every case given the reasons which have led me to one view rather than to another… False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness: and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened.”

After covering the Rajiv Gandhi assassination story in 12 chapters, it is opportune to focus on other untouched aspects of the Pirabhakaran phenomenon. (Continued)