Another act of LTTE barbarism | Daily News
31st Anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi's assassination:

Another act of LTTE barbarism

Today we mark the 31st death Anniversary of late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The month of May is dark and at the same time bright for Sri Lanka. It is because there are three historical incidents that took place in the month of May and all three historical incidents are related to LTTE terrorism. It was during this month of May that former Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa (May 1) and the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi were assassinated. It was on May 18 in 2009 heroic Sri Lankan Armed Forces eradicated the LTTE terrorism from Sri Lanka.

It was 31 years ago. I was just a schoolgirl. Political Science was my favourite subject. I was interested in International politics. But I never thought that I will very unfortunate to witness the assassination of one of my favourite International politicians then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

He had a very innocent look with an attractive smile. But his killers did not see any of those. They just wanted to make sure that he will not see the sunrise on May 22nd. The assassination of former India n Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi occurred as a result of a suicide bombing in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu in India on May 21, 1991. At least 14 others, in addition to Rajiv Gandhi, were killed. It was carried out by Thenmozhi Rajaratnam (also known as Kalaivani Rajaratnam or Dhanu), a member of the Sri Lanka Tamil separatist organisation Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) along with Dr. Jagjit Singh Chohan of the National Council of Khalistan (NCK) and Gujarat Singh Budhsinghwala of the Khalistan Liberation Force. At the time, India had just ended its involvement, through the Indian Peace Keeping Force, in the Sri Lankan LTTE terrorism issue.

Election campaign

Subsequent accusations of conspiracy have been addressed by two commissions of inquiry and have brought down at least one National Government. Rajiv Gandhi was busy campaigning for the upcoming elections along with G.K. Moopanar in Southern States of India. On May 21, after campaigning in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh his next stop was Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu. About two hours after arriving in Madras (now Chennai), Gandhi was driven by motorcade in a white Ambassador car to Sriperumbudur, stopping along the way at a few other election campaigning venues. When Rajiv reached a campaign rally in Sriperumbudur, he left his car and began walking towards the dais where he was to deliver a speech.

Along the way, he was garlanded by many well-wishers, Indian National Congress workers and schoolchildren. The assassin, Dhanu (Thenmozhi Rajaratnam), approached and greeted him. She then bent down to touch his feet and detonated an RDX explosive-laden belt tucked below her dress at exactly 10.10 pm. Gandhi, his assassin and 14 others were killed in the explosion that followed, along with 43 others who were grievously injured.

The assassination was caught on film by a local photographer, Haribabu, whose camera and film was found intact at the site despite him also dying in the blast. The assassination was carried out by Thenmozhi Rajaratnam, also known as Kalaivani Rajaratnam, Dhanu or Gayatri. Born on January 1, 1974 in Sri Lanka, she was from Kupukullai in Jaffna and studied until middle school in Batticaloa. She was inspired by the Tamil militant group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (Tamil Tigers) at a young age, and joined the Black Tigers (suicide bombers).

The main reason why Dhanu became a Tiger is that her brother was a well-known cadre who had died and she was carrying on the family tradition. Thenmozhi was the daughter of a Sri Lankan Tamil named A. Rajaratnam and his second wife. He allegedly was described as Velupillai Prabhakaran's mentor; and he played a vital role in moulding the LTTE chief's thinking during the movement's formative years between 1972 and 1975.

Thenmozhi’s marital status at the time of her death, is not known to the general public. Thenmozhi was survived by her mother, brother Sivavarman and two sisters, one of whom moved to France.

The Court convicted and sentenced the seven persons who facilitated the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi to life imprisonment. They are currently undergoing life imprisonment in prisons in India. They are: Murugan alias Sriharan - A LTTE operative from Sri Lanka, Nalini - wife of Murugan. Nalini is a citizen of India, Santhan alias T. Suthenthiraraja - A Sri Lankan national, Robert Pious - A Sri Lankan national, Jayakumar - The brother-in-law of Robert Pious, Ravichandran - A Sri Lankan national, A.G. Perarivalan - An Indian citizen who was arrested for supplying a 9-volt battery for the explosive device.

SC judgement

As per the Supreme Court of India judgement by Judge K.T. Thomas the killing was carried out due to personal animosity of the LTTE Chief Prabhakaran towards Rajiv Gandhi arising from his sending the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka and the alleged IPKF atrocities against Sri Lankan Tamils. Additionally, the Rajiv Gandhi administration had antagonized other Tamil militant organisations like PLOTE for reversing the military coup in Maldives back in 1988.

The judgement further cited the death of Thileepan in a hunger strike and the suicide by 12 LTTE cadres in a vessel in October 1987. While convicting the accused, four of them to death and others to various jail terms, the judgement stated that no evidence existed that any one of the conspirators ever desired the death of any Indian other than Rajiv Gandhi, though several others were killed. Judge Wadhwa further stated there was nothing on record to show that the intention to kill Rajiv Gandhi was to overawe the government. Hence it was held that it was not a terrorist act under TADA (Act). Judge Thomas further stated that conspiracy was hatched in stages commencing from 1987 and that it spanned several years. The special investigation team of India's premier special investigation agency Central Bureau of Investigation was not able to pinpoint when the decision to kill Rajiv Gandhi was taken.

A.G. Perarivalan - An Indian citizen who was arrested for supplying a 9-volt battery for the explosive device was released from prison few days ago after 31 years.

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