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The Rediff Special/J N Dixit

'The surrender of arms was a farce'

Rajiv Gandhi The surrender of arms was only symbolic. It was a farce. Only a couple of truckloads of old weapons were brought to the ceremony. The weapons brought during the following days and weeks were patently inadequate in number and quantity. I recall some newspaper correspondents asking General Depinder Singh as to what he would do if the LTTE did not surrender arms as promised by them and as envisaged in the Agreement. Depinder Singh's one line response was: "In that case we would go after them and get the arms."

The statement was interpreted in the Sinhalese press as a clear articulation of Indian policy that India would function impartially to implement the letter and spirit of the Agreement. Our Sri Lankan Tamil contacts were not very happy about this statement of General Depinder Singh. I told them that what General Singh had stated was legally, politically and operationally correct and that the implementation of the Agreement in all its details was for the welfare of the Tamils, and that his statement should not be misunderstood.

The Sri Lankan government desired some preliminary discussions with representatives of Tamil groups about the establishment of the interim provincial government of the north-eastern province and various aspects of the law and order situation. Prabhakaran desired these discussions to be held in Jaffna. After some prodding, he sent a delegation consisting of Yogi, Balasingham and some other second rung leaders of LTTE to Colombo for these discussions. They came and stayed at the residence of one of the first secretaries of the Indian high commission in view of the security concerns they had.

LTTE militants The discussions were, however, botched up for two reasons. First, because of the undulatory approach to discussion specific issues which the Sri Lankan government representatives adopted. Secondly, the LTTE representatives were not happy about the logistical arrangements and the manner in which they were treated by the concerned Indian official. It was agreed that the Sri Lankan government would come up with specific suggestions regarding the constitution of the interim governing council and they should develop some powers straightway to the proposed interim north-eastern government. They could then start working on the constitutional amendments to implement the devolution package.

Excerpted from Assignment Colombo, by J N Dixit, Konarak Publishers, 1998, Rs 400, with the publisher's permission.
Readers interested in obtaining a copy of the book may direct their enquiries to Mr K P R Nair, Konarak Publishers, A-149, Main Vikas Marg, New Delhi 110 001.

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J N Dixit, continued

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