The Pirabhakaran Phenomenon

Sachi Sri Kantha
[31 May 2002]

Rajiv Gandhi Assassination - International Links

Pirabhakaran – A Moron?

Of course, millions of Tamils know that Pirabhakaran is not a moron by any objective criterion. His track record (now lasting for 25 years) in guiding the LTTE into an internationally recognized army proves that. But, for mediocre analysts and journalists who earn a living by his name, sticking a ‘moron’ label on Pirabhakaran is a comfortable exercise. One of the tortured reasonings presented by the media analysts in attributing a motive to Pirabhakaran’s alleged ‘decision’ to eliminate Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 was that he feared re-induction of the Indian army in Eelam, if the Congress Party formed the government in India following the general election. As one of the voluble proponents of this motive, Rohan Gunaratna, presents it:

“The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was imperative for the LTTE. If the LTTE did not, the IPKF that withdrew would have returned heralding another period of bloody fighting. Prabhakaran’s calculus was right. As a leader, he had done his duty by his rank and file. By assassinating Rajiv Gandhi, he prevented the reintroduction of the IPKF to Sri Lanka.” [presented in the Sunday Times, Colombo, Jan.19, 1997; as an excerpt from a chapter from his book]

That this inference is nothing but baloney and based on deluded thinking can be asserted from the actions of President J.R.Jayewardene and his nominal deputy in the 1980s, R.Premadasa. The Indian army was brought into Sri Lanka by Jayewardene in 1987, and this action was vehemently opposed by Premadasa. By early 1989, when he assumed power, Premadasa was keen on sending back the Indian army and reverse the faulty step taken by his predecessor. While he was rightfully boasting this as his major contribution to protect the sovereignty of Sri Lanka, one should be insane to swallow the logic presented by analysts like Gunaratna, that Premadasa would have willingly invited the Indian army again into Sri Lanka, even if Rajiv Gandhi and his coterie were inclined to do the same. What Jayewardene did in 1987 was a consensual act, about which Premadasa was screaming ‘rape’. One should give the political devil his due. Whatever his faults were, abrasive Premadasa was a Buddhist moralist to the core, and it is incredulous to even consider that he would have committed the same ‘consensual act’ in 1991 which would have tarnished his image for which he had labored for decades. Then, it is also laughable to think that Pirabhakaran could be a moron (like for instance V.Perumal of EPRLF) and could not comprehend Premadasa’s mind. In my assessment, if Pirabhakaran can be faulted it could be for his penchant for ruthless disciplinarianism, but not for being a moron.

A critical look on non-LTTE suspects

Just as evading the documentable evidence for LTTE involvement in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination is unacceptable, equally detestable is the outright elimination of the international links to the assassination, which question the ‘LTTE did it’ hypothesis of the Indian law enforcement personnel. Other than LTTE, identifiable parties who had political, economical and financial motives for eliminating Rajiv Gandhi included,

1.     The Sri Lankan State and Sinhalese chauvinist elements.

2.     Secessional elements in India such as Khalistan group and Kashmir group.

3.     Rajiv’s opponents with the Congress Party

4.     International mercenaries, in alignment with the Intelligence Agencies such as Mossad of Israel.

Subramanian Swamy, in his book, The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi (2000) has informed that the CBI sleuths in India carried out a ‘Probability Analysis’ following Rajiv Gandhi assassination and by May 31, 1991, had identified the suspects as belonging to the LTTE, from a list of seven. I provide the details of this probability analysis, courtesy of Swamy, and briefly comment on its reliability.

Eight parameters (identified as ‘variants’) had been chosen and each was scored from 1 to 5 in increasing order of probability against the 7 targeted suspects. The chosen eight parameters were,

1.     Intelligence inputs regarding known earlier plans or level of antagonism

2.     Beneficiary analysis probability

3.     Level of improvised explosive device (IED) fabrication expertise – known/probable

4.     Accessibility to Materials Used.

5.     Availability of cadres who can perform such a task

6.     Probability on the basis of modus operandi and circumstances of the case

7.     Capability analysis on the basis of area of strike

8.     Probability considering unidentified (UI) lady as the prime suspect

Then, the 7 targeted suspects in the books of CBI sleuths were,

1.     Sikh terrorists

2.     Kashmiri militants

3.     United Liberation Front of Assam

4.     People’s War Group (alias Naxalites) in India

5.     Tamil militant groups [non-LTTE]

6.     Sri Lankan government/mercenary

7.     LTTE

So far, so good. The scores received by these 7 targeted suspects for each of the above 8 parameters ranking consecutively from 1 to 8 are given below.

1.     Sikh terrorists: 5 + 5+ 4+ 4+ 1+ 2+ 1+ 1 = 23 out of 40.

2.     Kashmiri militants: 3+ 4+ 2+ 5+ 1+ 1+ 1+ 0 = 17 out of 40.

3.     United Liberation Front of Assam: 2+ 3+ 1+ 0+ 0+ 0+ 1+ 0 = 07 out of 40.

4.     Naxalites of India: 2+ 3+ 1+ 0+ 2+ 1+ 2+ 2 = 13 out of 40.

5.     non-LTTE Tamil militant groups: 1+ 1+ 1+ 0+ 1+ 3+ 3+ 3 = 13 out of 40.

6.     Sri Lankan government/mercenary: 0 + 3+ 4+ 5+ 2+ 3+ 3+ 3 = 23 out of 40.

7.     LTTE: 2+ 2+ 5+ 5+ 5+ 5+5+ 4 = 33 out of 40. 

Thus, in the books of CBI, the suspect which received the highest ‘probability score’ turned out to be LTTE. That this arbitrary scale is a flawed one can be shown as follows:

First, the designated scores are highly questionable. To cite one example, for the first parameter (i.e, the level of antagonism), Sikh terrorists had received the maximum score of 5; LTTE received 2 and the Sri Lanka Government/Mercenary had received a zero score. If the CBI sleuths have studied the history without blinkers, the Sri Lanka Government/Mercenary also should have been scored 5, since there was a serious assassination attempt on Rajiv in July 1987 at Colombo. The anti-Indian speeches of the then Sri Lankan President Premadasa, between 1984 and 1991, make a mockery of the zero score granted for the first parameter.

Secondly, considering the antagonism Rajiv faced within his Congress Party, anti-Rajiv forces within his party or even the power peddlers (such as Chandra Swamy) should have formed another suspect group. Probability of their collusion with shady Eelam Tamil militants who were trained by the RAW personnel (such as Sivarasan) or with whom RAW officials developed some affinity (such as Mahattaya, the ex-Deputy Leader of LTTE) to weaken Pirabhakaran has been ignored for convenience.

Thirdly, by design or ignorance, the probability of two suspects [such as the non-LTTE militants and the Sri Lankan Government/Mercenary] joining hands to achieve their mission has not been considered by the CBI sleuths in their calculation. If this additive probability is calculated, the total score of the two suspects could equal or even exceed the total score of LTTE.

Fourthly, though the mere mention of numbers may project the analysis to be scientific, how the observer bias by the CBI was eliminated or decreased has not been explained.

Ignored Suspects: The Sri Lankan Government and Tamil mercenaries

How flawed is the probability analysis of the CBI sleuths can be illustrated by a pungent opinion-piece published in the The Illustrated Weekly of India (Aug.22-28, 1992). It was authored by one Dr.Norman Baker, who was introduced as a US-based writer. In this highly relevant piece, Baker had focused on elements that were ignored by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) officials, but deserved notice relating to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

I have been unable to identify who this Norman Baker is, since I have not read any of his other published contributions, prior to or after the Rajiv assassination, though he began his commentary with the sentence, “As a student of the history and politics of India, the events following the assassination of the former Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, have been a subject of intense interest to me.” A computer search via the Google search engine generated two candidates with the name Norman Baker. One is a historian belonging to the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, who was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Another Norman Baker (b.1957) is currently a Liberal Democrat MP in Britain, representing Lewes constituency since 1997. His bio-data states that he was a teacher previously. Recently, his name has appeared in Indian press related to his queries on the issue of British passport in 1999 to business baron running the Hinduja Group. It is feasible that neither of these two individuals authored this critical commentary.

Despite this caveat on the identity of the author, the 1992 opinion-piece published by the Illustrated Weekly of India magazine deserves notice for its vigor. So as not to distort the case presented by the author, I provide lengthy excerpts below:

“…In my opinion, the investigation by the SIT was flawed from the very beginning. As one looks into statements made by SIT officials, leaks from SIT sources and the general direction which the investigation took, it is rather evident that the SIT had started with the assumption (maybe even the conclusion) that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was responsible for the assassination. Instead of looking for and analyzing evidence in order to find who the culprits behind the assassination were, the SIT seems to have been looking for and analysing evidence to prove their assumption that the LTTE was guilty. Even when some pieces of evidence at hand suggested that the LTTE might not have anything to do with the assassination, the SIT tried to force-fit such evidence to support their pre-conceived notion that the LTTE was guilty…

The Sri Lankan government under President Premadasa was as anti-Rajiv as the LTTE. Premadasa opposed the India-Sri Lanka Peace Accord of 1987 and the induction of Indian troops into Sri Lanka in 1987 from the very beginning. His presidential election campaign included a pledge to get the Indian troops out of Sri Lanka. His first foreign policy initiative as the newly elected president was to request India to withdraw its troops from Sri Lanka. When Rajiv Gandhi procrastinated, Premadasa did the unexpected and the unthinkable – he secretly supplied large quantities of arms to the Sri Lankan government’s long-term enemy, the LTTE. Finally, the Indian troops were withdrawn in 1990 and the new Indian Prime Minister V.P.Singh, pursued a hands-off policy on the Sri Lankan civil war.

Premadasa likened Singh’s hands-off policy to Gandhi’s activist policy. Premadasa feared the latter’s return to power. He feared that Rajiv Gandhi might interfere in the Sri Lankan civil war again, possibly in support of the LTTE, as he and his mother Indira Gandhi did until July 1987. Thus, the Sri Lankan government under President Premadasa had a motive to see that Rajiv Gandhi did not come to power again. Did the Sri Lankan government have the means (the ability) to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi in Tamil Nadu?”

Baker continues further,

“The Sri Lankan government might not have had the means to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi directly but it had close relationships with some Sri Lankan Tamil guerrilla groups, namely the EPRLF, the PLOTE and the TELO. At least two of these groups (PLOTE and TELO) were helping the Sri Lankan army in its civil war with the LTTE. These groups had operatives in Tamil Nadu for many years and thus had the ability to plan and execute the assassination. These groups also had the necessary expertise with explosives. Moreover, these groups are armed militants without a cause. (They had long given up the cause of creating a homeland for the Sri Lankan Tamils.) The history of mercenary operations tells us that such groups are fertile grounds for mercenaries.

In fact, a few years ago PLOTE was involved in an unsuccessful mercenary operation to overthrow the government of the tiny island nation, Maldives. In addition to these Tamil guerrilla groups, it is believed that the Sri Lankan government also had some Tamils in its intelligence service and the Sri Lankan government did not hesitate to use them on Indian soil when necessary. During the mid-‘80s, the LTTE’s political advisor, Balasingham, lived in Madras. A Tamil Sri Lankan intelligence operative named Kandaswamy Naidu – a former Sri Lankan government employee – allegedly tried to blow up Balasingham’s Madras residence. A case was filed against him in Tamil Nadu but he escaped to Sri Lanka. Interestingly, Sivarasan, the mastermind of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, was allegedly a former Sri Lankan government employee…”

Baker on Sivarasan:

According to Baker,

“Throughout the investigation, while every piece of evidence that could possibly link the LTTE to the assassination was painstakingly pursued, other evidence was not given serious attention. One piece of information was that Sivarasan was a former Sri Lanka government employee. Especially in view of the Kandaswamy Naidu episode mentioned earlier, the SIT should have investigated any possible connections between Sivarasan and Sri Lankan intelligence agencies. But this was not done. Also, the question remains unanswered: Why did the Sri Lankan government tell the SIT in May-June 1991 that Sivarasan was an LTTE operative but failed to mention his former employment with them? The Sri Lankan government distributed Sivarasan’s photograph to its offices in eastern Sri Lanka. Why wasn’t his past government employment revealed? Was it a case of incompetency or cover-up?

While the SIT was quick to examine the LTTE’s bank transactions in European banks to uncover any incriminating financial transactions between the LTTE and foreign governments, it made no such attempt to investigate if the Sri Lankan government had any questionable financial dealings with the EPRLF, PLOTE, TELO or other mercenaries.”

Furthermore, Baker has questioned the validity of the assumption that Sivarasan was an LTTE cadre. To quote,

“The SIT had information that Sivarasan smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol. This does not fit the profile of an LTTE operative. LTTE militants are prohibited from smoking and drinking. This code of conduct is strictly enforced from the very top to the newest recruit. The fact that Sivarasan smoked and drank would seriously undermine the theory that Sivarasan was an LTTE operative. However, the SIT simply brushed it aside. Was Sivarasan a former LTTE, EPRLF, PLOTE or TELO operative? Did he become a mercenary, using the skills he learned from these groups and the connections he made when he was with these groups?

In fact, there was evidence to suggest that Sivarasan might have been involved in a mercenary operation. According to the SIT, Sivarasan had visited Sweden, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates some months before the assassination. The LTTE had representatives in all these countries. If Sivarasan was planning the assassination on behalf of the LTTE, there was no reason for him to visit these countries to meet foreign government agencies or collect monies or secure explosives; the LTTE networks in these countries are better suited to do these back-up tasks. It is highly unlikely that the LTTE would send Sivarasan to foreign countries for this purpose. Sivarasan’s foreign trips would make sense if he were a mercenary. But the SIT chose to go around this piece of evidence and tried to force-fit it to its ‘LTTE is guilty’ hypothesis. What was the SIT’s analysis? It concluded that Sivarasan, while planning the assassination for the LTTE, was at the same time on the payroll of (under contract to) an unidentified foreign government without the knowledge of the LTTE.

Is such a scenario plausible? Highly unlikely. The LTTE is a well-disciplined, tightly-knit organization and it is highly unlikely that an operative assigned for the most sensitive and critical operation in the history of the LTTE (namely the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi) would be able to establish contact with a foreign government and travel to many foreign countries for weeks without the knowledge of the LTTE. It is more likely that Sivarasan was a mercenary than a mercenary and an LTTE operative at the same time. However, the SIT chose to propound the latter theory."

Baker on Dhanu:

Baker’s view of Dhanu, the woman assassin of Rajiv Gandhi, was as follows:

“An experienced covert operative-whether a Sri Lankan Tamil guerrilla or a Sri Lankan intelligence operative – could have ‘persuaded’ a suitable young Tamil lady raped by Indian soldiers and thus enraged against Rajiv Gandhi, to act as a suicide-assassin. (The assassin, Dhanu, allegedly told her friend, Nalini, that Indian soldiers had raped her. The fact that Indian soldiers raped some Tamil women has been established beyond any doubt; if Dhanu was a rape victim may never be known for sure).”

Baker on the significance of Rajiv-LTTE meeting in March 1991:

Baker attributed this vital meeting as the signal for the anti-LTTE operatives to speed their mission on assassinating Rajiv. To quote,

“Within days of the assassination, the Hindu reported that an LTTE emissary met Rajiv Gandhi earlier in 1991 to re-establish a cordial relationship. The Congress Party spokesman, Pranab Mukherjee, denied that such a meeting took place. Later, it became evident that the meeting in fact took place on March 5, 1991, at Rajiv Gandhi’s New Delhi residence. This is a critical piece of evidence. If the meeting ended amicably and if the LTTE believed that Rajiv Gandhi would not be hostile to the LTTE, then it would no longer have a motive to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi. (If the LTTE’s foes were to know of the meeting, they might have a motive to assassinate Rajiv.)

By giving false information that no such meeting took place, the Congress spokesman essentially misled the investigation until the truth emerged from other sources. Why did the Congress Party spokesman mislead the investigation? The only one to be adversely affected by the denial is the LTTE. Were the anti-LTTE leaders within the Congress party and its ally, the AIADMK, responsible for the denial?

The Rajiv-LTTE meeting is an important piece of evidence and the gist of the conversation could be useful in assessing the LTTE’s motives. The SIT simply brushed it aside as a diversive tactic used by the LTTE. But there is some prima facie evidence to suggest that the Rajiv-LTTE meeting did go well. The very fact that Rajiv Gandhi agreed to meet an LTTE emissary indicates that he had an open mind about the LTTE.

Furthermore, the June 1, 1991 issue of the Illustrated Weekly of India reported that ‘intelligence sources, on condition of anonymity, confirm this (the meeting) and are inclined to view that the compromise worked out between Rajiv and the LTTE could have been the cause for the assassination and that international forces who stood to lose by Rajiv becoming prime minister, standing by the LTTE’s demand for an independent Tamil Eelam could have been behind the blast (assassination).’ Who has more to lose by a rapprochement between Rajiv and the LTTE than the Sri Lankan government?…”

Baker, concluded his commentary with the following note:

“Even if the LTTE chief [i.e. Pirabhakaran] is found guilty by an Indian court, there will always be a lingering doubt about whether the LTTE was really guilty of assassinating Rajiv Gandhi. The recent order by Judge Siddick prohibiting the publication of the proceedings of the court is more cause for concern.”

The role of Mossad operatives and Mercenaries

It is not a hyperbole to state that the role of Mossad operatives and mercenaries in the Rajiv assassination conspiracy has been at best under-investigated, and at worst completely ignored. The following facts need mention in this regard.

1.     The warning given by the PLO Chief Yasser Arafat to Rajiv Gandhi on the possible threat of latter’s life, five weeks before the event.

2.     Existence of records relating to clandestine professional links formed by the RAW operatives and Mossad in the 1980s, while the RAW personnel were providing training for Tamil militants in India. RAW’s most pampered group was TELO and not LTTE. This should be linked to the revelation that Sivarasan, the mastermind of Rajiv assassination conspiracy, was identified with TELO before 1987.

3.     High decibel campaign by Subramanian Swamy, a noted apologist in India for Israel, in implicating only LTTE for Rajiv’s assassination.

4.     Consultancy and services of Mossad operatives in Sri Lanka in mid 1984 by the then President Jayewardene during the incipient stage of civil war, which continued until 1989.

5.     President Premadasa’s apprehension of Mossad for ‘fishing’ in South Asian politics, especially following the impeachment campaign initiated by Lalith Athulathmudali (a noted sympathizer and beneficiary from Israel), which followed within few months after Rajiv’s death.

An erroneous inference by Commissioner Jain

Justice Milap Chand Jain, in his voluminous Commission report (1997) on the Rajiv Assassination, has strained hard to project a nexus among the LTTE, Mossad and CIA, and had recommended further investigations. His inference was mainly based on the much publicized book ‘By Way of Deception’ (1990) by Victor Ostrovsky, an ex-Mossad case officer. While reviewing this book in 1992, I had doubted the authenticity of Ostrovsky’s observations. Excerpts from my review are as follows:

“…What shocked the Sinhalese ruling establishment and the journalists (including the editor of Lanka Guardian, Mervyn de Silva) was the revelation of Ostrovski that Mossad had trained the Sinhalese military personnel and ‘a group of Tamil guerrilla factions’ simultaneously. Based on the meager details provided by Ostrovski, these power-brokers and opinion-makers had identified LTTE as the beneficiary of Mossad’s patronage.

To me, this sounds too premature and incorrect. Let me repeat what Ostrovski had written on this topic. ‘Around 1983, a group of Tamil guerrilla factions, collectively known as the Tamil Tigers, began an armed struggle to create a Tamil homeland in the north called Eelam – an on-going battle that has claimed thousands of lives on both sides.’ This is the only sentence in the book, where a vague reference is made to the Tamil Tigers. The time-frame Ostrovski had written about was ‘mid-July 1984’, when he was still a trainee at the Mossad Academy. He had not mentioned LTTE by name anywhere in the book. At that time, all the militant groups fighting for Eelam (LTTE, TELO, EPRLF, EROS and PLOTE) were identified as ‘Tamil Tigers’. This point need be stressed. The authors of Broken Palmyra also clearly state this fact in page 72 of their book: ‘Upto this time (April 1985), the Tamil population had hardly differentiated between rival groups. They were all referred to as boys and even Tigers.’

Again the fact is that as reported in the Economist of August 3, 1985, in its coverage on the five Tamil militant groups, LTTE was identified as receiving training from the PLO in Lebanon….” [Tamil Nation, London, March 15, 1992]

My inference that LTTE did not have links to the Mossad was subsequently confirmed by the Sinhalese sources as well. Rohan Gunaratna, the pushy anti-LTTE analyst, in his book Indian Intervention in Sri Lanka (1993), has not dealt in detail the embarrassing revelations of Ostrovsky for obvious reasons; the ex-Mossad agent has portrayed the Sinhalese army team who visited Israel for training under Mossad in pejorative terms such as ‘monkeys’. He does not even mention Ostrovsky’s book in his list of references. But, in one sentence in the text, he has noted in passing, “Even though Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad agent sensationalized LTTE relations with Israel, there was virtually no relationship.” [p.409 of the book]

Furthermore, at the height of Sri Lankan army’s embarrassing battle losses in April-May 2000 at the hand of LTTE, the Island newspaper published a heavily censored news report by Keith Warren, with the caption ‘Israelis here again’. It reiterated my 1992 inference. To quote,

“During the Premadasa regime an ex-officer of the Mossad intelligence agency accused the Israelis of helping the LTTE too and Premadasa appointed a commission to investigate that allegation. The then service commanders testified to say that it was the PLO which helped the LTTE and not the Israelis.” [Island, Colombo, May 7, 2000]

Mossad’s Links to the Sri Lankan army and RAW

One of the early reports I have in my files on the Sri Lankan army’s links to the Mossad was a feature by Prema de Mel, which appeared in the Asian Monitor (New York) weekly of June 22, 1984. It was entitled, ‘Lanka and the Mossad Connection’. I quote a few passages from this feature.

“…It is being said that over 50 Mossad members (Israeli secret service agents) are training the Sri Lanka armed services to fight northern guerrillas who want a separate state. This claim has been strengthened by the statement of President Junius Jayewardene that he would even ‘seek the help of the devil’ to rid the country of the Tamil terrorists. The assistant director of the Asia and Oceana division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem, who now heads the Israeli interest section, said in an interview with Asian Monitor that his country was ready to help Sri Lanka…

The Tamil United Liberation Front and the Tamil Congress issued a joint statement. The secretaries of both parties, Appapillai Amirthalingam and Kumar Ponnambalam, said:

‘TULF and the TC are shocked and alarmed by the decision to open an Israeli interest section. News reports state that this decision of the government is quid pro quo for the services of Israeli experts to train military units in ant guerilla warfare and counterinsurgency operations. We further infer from news reports, uncontradicted by the government, that the Israeli secret service, Mossad, is already engaged in security operations in the north and east. These moves have caused great alarm and apprehension among the Tamil-speaking people.”

I also cite two additional sentences from the previously quoted Island report by Keith Warren, which provide a plausible link to Sivarasan (the mercenary, as pointed out by Norman Baker) with the Sri Lankan army and Mossad.

“The Israelis trained our Special Task Force at Maduru-Oya during the Jayewardene rule. The Israeli Interest Section which operated here was directly in contact with those Israeli personnel involved in planning out war strategies.”

Early this year, Michael Jansen reporting from New Delhi, mused on the precise nature of Indo-Israeli relations, which reached a ten year mark this year. Some tidbits mentioned in this report are relevant for digestion.

“…[Since 1980s] cooperation also developed between India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), and Israel’s Mossad and among senior armed forces officers of the two countries. One of the factors promoting this connection on the Indian side was anti-Pakistan, anti-Muslim resentment, particularly amongst officers whose homes were in areas which fell in Pakistan after partition. However, the subordination of the military to the civilian authority prevented the pro-Israel sentiments of those officers from surfacing in Indian policy until full diplomatic relations were established in 1992.” [Al-Ahram Weekly Online, February 21-27, 2002; Issue No.574]

What is notable is the date of establishment of full diplomatic relations between India and Israel. It occurred following Rajiv Gandhi’s death. One can postulate that here lies the motive for the role of Mossad’s ‘hands or fingers’ in deciding the fate of Rajiv Gandhi. Michael Jansen provides a synopsis on the historical factors which could have played a role. To quote,

“India’s policy of supporting the Palestinians goes back to the 1920s and 1930s when Mahatma Gandhi stood against the Zionist colonization and expropriation of Palestine. After Independence, India followed Gandhi’s principled policy out of self-interest. India had the largest Muslim population of any non-Muslim state, enjoyed lucrative economic ties with the Arabs, which are further strengthened by the presence of millions of expatriate Indian workers in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia, and shared with the Arabs a policy of non-alignment during the Cold War.” [ibid]

Thus, Nehru, his daughter Indira and his grandson Rajiv, for obvious political reasons of courting the Muslim vote and minimally for paying allegiance to Mahatma Gandhi’s views, followed a pro-Arab policy in the international arena until the 1980s. Rajiv Gandhi, if he would have regained the prime ministership wouldn’t have deviated much from the pro-Arab stand. But his elimination resulted in the substantial turn-around in India’s diplomatic policy of favoring Israel. Though Subramanian Swamy, India’s pro-Israeli voice, has debunked the warning issued by Yasser Arafat to Rajiv as a red herring, his cited reason for rejection is markedly humorous. To quote Swamy,

“The whole hullabaloo on Arafat’s warning on RG’s [i.e., Rajiv Gandhi] possible assassination was so much Middle East desert hot air, because after hearing from Arafat personally, Chandrasekhar had asked the RAW to find out. Accordingly the RAW had sent messages to all field stations abroad to do an in-depth check and report back. They came up with nothing.” [Book: The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, 2000, p.191]

There is a fallacious assumption here that just because RAW’s field stations couldn’t make head or tail about the warning by Arafat, this warning was a ‘Middle East desert hot air’. To prove the efficiency (or lack) of RAW’s field station, one need not look further than the assassination attempt on Rajiv made in Colombo in July 1987 by the Sinhala naval rating. If the RAW’s field station in Colombo – with all the proximity to India and intelligence links to its Sri Lankan agents – failed miserably in protecting Rajiv, what chances the RAW’s field stations in the Middle East and Europe have of detecting a conspiracy better than Arafat’s agents?

Facts on Sivarasan

As an aside, I should also mention that Swamy, while ridiculing Arafat’s warning, has included in his book, a photo of him with Arafat. But nothing is included in the text, why this photo appears in his book, unless he wished to make amends for his undeserved ridicule. Swamy also asserts in his book, that it is the LTTE which had made a mountain out of mole hill from Arafat’s warning to Rajiv. His view may be reliable, if the following documented facts are ignored for convenience.

Fact 1: It is undeniable that the Mossad cultivated links with the Sri Lankan army and simultaneously with India’s RAW since 1984.

Fact 2: LTTE did not have links to the Mossad.

Fact 3: In 1984, the RAW operatives did send some Tamil militants for training under Mossad, and TELO was the pampered group of RAW agents.

Fact 4: Sivarasan belonged to the TELO camp in 1984, and received training by the RAW operatives in India.

Fact 5: Sivarasan also worked for the Sri Lankan government in the Eastern province, during or after IPKF’s operations in Sri Lanka.

Fact 6: Sivarasan also has traveled to Sweden, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates some months before the assassination.

Fact 7: Sivarasan also doesn’t appear in the records as a prominent member of LTTE. If according to the SIT officials, Sivarasan organized the ‘hit’ against the EPRLF chief Padmanabha in 1990 and escaped to Jaffna thus evading capture, it begs the question why he didn’t do the same on the day following Rajiv’s assassination, before his identity was revealed by the photos of Haribabu. That Sivarasan was cavalierly dancing around Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for three months, before his reported death in Bangalore, is a bone in the neck of SIT officials which they cannot dislodge.

Like the proverbial six blind men who saw the elephant, one is under the impression that Sivarasan was the ‘elephant’ in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination story. To-date, his links to the RAW operatives, Sri Lankan army-Mossad operatives, ‘heavy weights’ of the Congress Party, and TELO remain hidden. That he was a ‘mole’ prepared by the RAW operatives to penetrate the LTTE is within the realms of truth. This may be an embarrassing fact, even for Pirabhakaran to acknowledge.

In the early decades of the 20th century, when Einstein’s relativity theory came under attack for scientific and non-scientific reasons, professors belonging to the universities in Germany issued a signed memorandum elaborating on why Einstein’s theory was wrong. To this action, Einstein’s wisecrack was a memorable one. Einstein noted to the effect that, if his theory is indeed wrong, one professor is more than enough to correctly point out why it is wrong, and one hundred heads are not needed. In a similar vein, one can state that if Pirabhakaran was indeed the main conspirator in the Rajiv assassination, one clinching evidence is adequate; that is, an authentic, unadulterated document revealing Pirabhakaran’s motive or instruction to Sivarasan to commit the deed. Though eleven years have passed, this document has not seen the light of the day. (Continued)