LTTE will have to ''deeply regret'' Gandhi killing: TNA
New Delhi | September 20, 2006 5:15:06 PM IST
Sri Lanka''s Tamil Tiger guerrillas will have to make the Indian people feel that they do "deeply regret" the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, the leader of a Sri Lankan Tamil party said here Wednesday.
R. Sampanthan, leader of a five-member delegation of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) that has come here to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, told a meeting at the Indian Council for World Affairs that this might soon become a reality.
"LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) having made a start (in this direction), they will have to move forward and make the people of India appreciate that they deeply regret this incident," Sampanthan said, referring to the May 1991 killing of Gandhi by a LTTE woman suicide woman bomber near Chennai.
"In due course of time that will become a reality," he added.
The Gandhi killing led to India becoming the first country to outlaw the LTTE in 1992. Sampanthan''s comments were in reference to LTTE ideologue Anton Balasingham''s recent remarks that were widely seen as amounting to voicing regret over the murder.
Sampanthan also said that the international community would have to tell Sri Lanka to deliver vis-à-vis power sharing with the Tamil minority if the country''s unity and territorial integrity had to be guaranteed.
"India has to tell Sri Lanka: You have to deliver politically, you will have to deliver," he said. "If you cannot deliver, there cannot be a solution."
But a senior Indian official who made brief remarks at the meeting made it clear that New Delhi would never waver on the question of respecting Sri Lanka''s unity.
He also said that there could never be a military solution to Sri Lanka''s dragging ethnic conflict that has taken dangerous turns in recent months leaving hundreds dead and hundreds of thousands displaced across the island''s north and east.
The official said while India had proscribed the LTTE, it wanted Colombo to engage with the Tigers to find a mutually acceptable political solution. "The legitimate aspirations of the Tamils need to be met."
The official added that contrary to popular view, India did "play an active role behind the scenes" with the help of Norway, the peace facilitator that brokered a ceasefire in 2002 between the LTTE and Colombo, and other members of the international community.
Sampanthan, who is originally from the Tamil United Liberation Front, described the Rajiv Gandhi killing as "tragic and thoroughly unacceptable".
"A vast majority of the Tamil people was deeply disappointed. It should have never taken place. It is a tragic aberration we sincerely and seriously regret."
The TNA leader said Tamils in Sri Lanka today desired that India should play an active role in resolving the ethnic crisis.
"You ask any Tamil in Sri Lanka: 99 percent would say that India should resolve this problem," he said. "Which other country can do it? No other country can do it. There is a historical relationship that should not be ruptured. We have a certain affection for India."
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