About 34 years ago, the then PM of India, Shri Rajiv Gandhi, ordered Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to wade into the Sri Lankan civil war. I think it was a poorly crafted strategy that backfired on India. However, the intent behind that order was to restore peace in Sri Lanka. The unrest in Sri Lanka was causing a massive influx of Sri Lankan Tamils into Tamil Nadu.
The decision of Rajiv Gandhi enraged the Tamil rebels (as they were called in Sri Lanka) so much that Mr Gandhi was killed by a human bomb, about three years later.
The gang that carried out the killing of Gandhi included Tamilians from India as well as from Sri Lanka.
One of the alleged gang members was a 19-year-old boy who had sold a 9 Volt battery that was used in the act of killing Rajiv Gandhi and at least 57 others who had gathered at sriperumbudur to attend a political rally.
The 19 year old was arrested and sentenced to death. The boy’s family appealed for death sentence to be reduced to life imprisonment and the Supreme Court obliged.
Today, after 30 years in jail, the boy Perarivalan, now 50 years of age has walked free. He had maintained that he had sold the battery to the people who used it to kill Rajiv Gandhi but he also affirms that he had no idea that the battery would be used for that act of terror.
I am dismayed at the celebration in Tamil Nadu at the release of Perarivalan. He is being hailed as some kind of a hero. I agree that Rajiv Gandhi made a grave error of judgement in sending IPKF to Sri Lanka.
The movement for the ‘Tamil Elaam’, the aspirational name for the Tamilian homeland in Sri Lanka, was supported by the Tamilian diaspora spread across the world. Anyone who opposed its idea was looked upon as an enemy and Rajiv Gandhi had become enemy number One for these hardliners.
The LTTE fighters who were fighting the Singhalese dominated Sri Lankan government, were hailed as freedom fighter by the Tamilians. However the fact is that LTTE killed our beloved PM Rajiv Gandhi and we Indians would always look at LTTE as a terrorist organisation.
Rajiv Gandhi himself was a man of peace and his desire was to see a strife-free Sri Lanka. He erred in his assessment of the situation but he cannot be held responsible for the eventual meltdown of LTTE
Some political parties like the DMk are celebrating the release of Perarivalan and rejoicing the event. If they want to carry out with their show of happiness, it should be muted and very, very low key.
I am also surprised that the Congress party is blaming the Union Government for the release of Perarivalan. It was the Dravidian parties that proposed the release of Perarivalan and the Supreme Court has put a stamp of approval on it. Congress party is in alliance with DMK in Tamil Nadu.