Major General Harkirat Singh, the Indian Peace Keeping Force’s first commander says this after his retirement:
How did the IPKF, sent to enforce peace, get involved in a bloody fight with the LTTE? Do you personally believe that it could have been prevented?
One afternoon I was in my operations room when then vice chief of army staff (S F) Rodrigues came. Later he became [army] chief. He talked of hard options. I advised him against it. I told him, If you adopt hard options you would be fighting for the next 10 to 20 years. And this will lead to insurgency and there is no stopping it. You are fighting in Nagaland, Mizoram, all over. This will be another. And sure enough, it has not ended to date. And it won’t end.
I have all regards for Sri Lanka. The Tamils have sacrificed [a lot], the LTTE is highly motivated and there is one aim: Eelam. Independence. Till they get independence they are not going to stop. You see stray incidents everyday, they even attempted to kill the present president.
IPKF ஜெனரல் புலிகளை சந்திக்கிறார் முதன் முதலில்:
மாத்தையா was standing outside a bungalow. He said, General, I am not prepared to talk to you.
I said, Why? I have come here with a message of peace, goodwill.
He said, Unless you bring back Prabhakaran, we will not talk to you.
I said, Where is Prabhakaran?
I didn’t even know that. They kept the army absolutely in the dark. Prabhakaran was in the Ashoka Hotel in Delhi. Now I know the room number also, 512 or 522. And he was to see the prime minister, before the prime minister went in for the Accord. Anyway he saw him, the PM gave him certain assurances, and before he could say ‘Jack Robinson’, the prime minister was in Colombo, signing the Accord.
Prabhakaran learnt it on television that the Accord had been signed and they were not party to it. It was one reason why the LTTE never accepted the Accord and India’s stand.
If we had taken the LTTE into confidence, they would have known the whole thing, their terms would have been put across to Jayewardane, and the situation would have been different.
இந்தியா தன் மக்களுக்கு எவ்வளவு உண்மைகளை மறைத்திருக்கிறதென்று பாருங்கள். பேச்சுத் சுதந்திரம் செய்திச் சுதந்திரம் இருந்தும் உண்மை ஏன் மக்களுக்குச் சென்றடையவில்லை? பங்களாதேஷைப் பிரித்துக்குடுக்க முன் நின்ற நாடு, தமிழனுக்கு ஏன் இந்த வஞ்சகம்?
Surrender ceremony was fixed for 5th of August.
Yogi [Prabhakaran’s representative] took his pistol and gave it. Then vehicle after vehicle the LTTE came, piled up the whole area with ammunition, guns. Bahut accha tha.
they did not stop arming the EPRLF… . RAW was doing it, ministry of foreign affairs knew about it, Dixit knew about it, but they couldn’t stop it.
Did you tell the army headquarters that the EPRLF was being armed?
What was the reaction?
Nothing. No reaction. [Indian army chief] General [K] Sunderji never said anything.
But then the Thilappan fast happened.
Unless the assurances given by the prime minister of India are fulfilled I am not giving up, he said.
I kept requesting the high commissioner, Come and meet, come and meet, come and meet. He dragged his feet, he delayed it, he didn’t come. Finally he came when the man was dead. We should have saved his life, one life.
குமரப்பா, the Trincomalee leader, and புலேந்திரன், the Jaffna leader, they were in the boat.
Now, the tamasha started. There were LTTE, around them were the Indian troops, around us were the Sri Lankan troops, around them were the Indian troops, around them the APCs of Sri Lanka.
I was guarding the airfield. And all of them came, Depinder, Dixit and some other staff officers. They landed there, they could not convince Jayewardane, and he was too clever for them.
You are given amnesty to them, fulfill it, but these politicians, they couldn’t. Depinder next day flew into Trincomalee and told me, Hand over, let them go and do whatever they want. Let us go and have a cup of tea with them, with the three chiefs.
Our troops withdrew, the Sri Lankan troops charged, and these fellows swallowed cyanide. Those who chewed, they died on the spot, those who swallowed were saved. This created chaos in the Indo-Sri Lankan entity. That the Indian army, IPKF, could not save them.
What was Dixit’s approach to your attempts to buy peace with LTTE?
Once he said, Shoot Prabhakaran, shoot மாத்தையா.
I said, Sorry I don’t do that. Those were his orders. When they came to me at 12 o’clock at night for some work, he said shoot them.
General, I have told you what I have ordered.
I said, I don’t take your orders. And we are meeting under a white flag, you don’t shoot people under white flag.
So who messed up during the boat tragedy?
The responsibility is entirely on the diplomats, entirely on the army headquarters. Otherwise, for me to save those people was no problem. I would have just put them into few APCs and smuggled them out. Sri Lankans tho dekthe raha jathe [The Sri Lankans would have just looked on]. We would have taken them out, we had all the troops there. No problem.
Did you bring this to the notice of your chief?
Of course. Sunderji was well-informed. Sunderji, Depinder everybody knew about it. But they didn’t have the courage to speak out to the press. Why did they not speak to the press regularly? When we were fighting in Lanka, why was press briefing not done, like during the Kargil time? Roz raat ko bhashan ho jatha tha, yeh ho gayi, ye ho gayi. Why wasn’t it done in Sri Lanka?
WHY WHY WHY ???
Why Indian government never told its people the truth that LTTE wasn’t even aware of the Accord being signed???
If this doesn’t fall into betrayel of Tamils of Elam, then what does?
சமாதானம் பேச வந்தவனை “house arrest” இல் வைத்து விட்டு நீங்களாவே இலங்கை அரசாங்கத்துடன் ஒப்பந்தம் செய்துபோட்டு முழுத் துரோகமும் தமிழன் என்றால் என்னையா ஞாயமிது?
இந்தியா செய்த சூட்சும தந்திரங்கள் இந்திய மக்களுக்கு வெளிக்கொணரப்படவில்லை. இதை அறியாமல் தமிழ் நாட்டில் இருக்கும் தமிழர்களும் ஈழத்தமிழர் மேல் பழி போடுகிறார்கள். இந்தியா மிகப் பெரும் ஜனநாயக நாடு என்ற பெயர்தான் ஆனால் தம் மக்களுக்கே உண்மை தெரியாமல் செய்வதில் சீனாவை விட கெட்டித்தனம்.
Will the fight in Sri Lanka go on?
This will carry on. The LTTE is not a simple soul to crack. A hard nut. Lead by Prabhakaran, a highly-motivated man. He has only one aim, Eelam.When India went in, they didn’t want them to win independence outside the constitution because it had problems in Kashmir etc. They didn’t want Trincomalee to become Diego Garcia, because there were oil wells there. I don’t see any peace in the near future.