Friday, December 07, 2007

Rajiv Gandhi gave no instructions to eliminate LTTE chief, say ex-diplomat and former army commander

Reports suggesting that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi gave orders for the elimination of the LTTE chief, V. Prabhakaran, at the height of the IPKF operations in Sri Lanka in 1987, have been rubbished by a former diplomat and army commander.

Reacting to former commander of IPKF operations in Sri Lanka, Major General (retired) Harkirat Singh's charge that he was ordered by the then Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, J.N. Dixit, to kill Prabhakaran during a `white flag' meeting on September 16, 1987, former Ambassador and noted commentator, G. Parthasarthy, said this was a baseless allegation.

Talking to ANI over the phone, Ambassador Parthasarthy said: "I was dealing with affairs relating to Sri Lanka in the Prime Minister's Office and flew on several occasions to Jaffna to meet with army commanders and officials. What I was told was that Major General Harkirat Singh was removed from his command because of ineptitude."

Commenting specifically on Major General Harkirat Singh's charge that he got a call from High Commissioner Dixit at midnight on September 14 and was given the order to kill Prabhakaran, Mr. Parthasarthy said: "I spoke with the army commanders and officials and they told me that instructions of this nature were not given at all."

"Instructions of this nature are never conveyed to or through a High Commissioner, and the IPKF commanders I spoke and interacted with, also said that they had received no such orders from their bosses," Mr. Parthasarthy added.

He also questioned the timing of Major General (retired) Harkirat Singh's statement in his soon to be released book "Intervention in Sri Lanka".

"Why has he taken more than 20 years to reveal this information? Asked Ambassador Parthasarthy. When told that Major-General Singh did not want to be harassed by the Army or the government for making these startling revelations for violating the Official Secrets Act, Mr. Parthasarthy said that as far as he was concerned, Major General Singh has violated the act, even though he might contend that he had honoured the three to ten year-old security embargo period before making his revelations.

In his comments to Major General Harkirat Singh's charge, Lt. General (retired) Deepinder Singh, the former GOC-in-C, Southern Command and overall commander of the IPKF operations, said: "This is absolute poppycock. There is no truth to this. Prabhakaran was never an individual target."

He further went on to say that "if there was anything of this kind, I would have been the first one to know. I was in touch with Mani Dixit throughout. Also, when someone comes to meet us under the white flag, the Indian Army will never kill him."

These reactions were in response to Major General (retired) Singh telling the Mail Today that he called up High Commissioner Dixit on September 15 and told him that he would not be following his orders to kill Prabhakaran. He claims that High Commissioner Dixit told him that the orders had come directly from Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Major General Harkirat Singh now says that there was no way of knowing whether Rajiv Gandhi gave those orders or not, and as far as he was concerned, " killing someone under a white flag is just not done".

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