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The Rediff Special/J N Dixit

'General Harkirat Singh was perturbed by the civilian demonstrations instigated against the IPKF by the LTTE'

Prabhakaran The LTTE was in daily touch with the IPKF headquarters in Jaffna. Prabhakaran was a frequent visitor to the Headquarters Officers Mess. By the middle of September, however, the LTTE decided to pull back from the 'limited co-operation' stance it had taken on the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement. Indian military personnel faced demonstrations forcibly organised by the LTTE against the Sri Lankan government and also against Indian policies.

Thileepan -- an idealistic and committed LTTE leader -- commenced a fast unto death in one of the main temples of Jaffna, taking the stand that the Indo-Sri Lankan Agreement did not fulfill Tamil aspirations and that India was not doing enough even to implement the provisions of the Agreement. The situation was becoming critical just about five weeks after the Agreement was signed.

At this stage, pressure was generated by leaders of the civilian population in Jaffna on the high commission to set up the interim council for the proposed north-eastern province. There were messages from Delhi directing me to urge Jayewardene to nominate an interim governing council in consultation with various Tamil groups as early as possible.

Prabhakaran was in the meanwhile refusing to enter into any discussions about the constitution of the interim governing council with local Sri Lankan government representatives or with the Indian army authorities who were now practically conducting the civilian administration of Jaffna.

Jayewardane After the token surrender of arms, Prabhakaran remained entrenched with his closest advisers and military cadres in the Jaffna university area and in strategically selected points throughout the Jaffna peninsula.

Prabhakaran was insistent that Jayewardene should first devolve all the required powers immediately to the interim governing council. He was not willing to wait for the necessary constitutional amendments and procedural requirements to be completed. In fact, he viewed the delays with profound suspicion.

The LTTE's own intelligence sources must also have given him fairly accurate information about (Prime Minister) Premadasa and Lalith Athulathmudali trying to sabotage the agreement, perhaps even preparing to resume military operations against the LTTE either through the instrumentality of Janatha Vimukti Perumana cadres or through military and security personnel who could be encouraged to rebel against Jayewardene's authority.

General Harkirat Singh was getting increasingly perturbed by the civilian demonstrations instigated against the IPKF by the LTTE and the agitated political overtones that marked the discussions held by the LTTE leadership in Jaffna with Indian army officers. He sent messages to army headquarters seeking my presence in Jaffna to bring the temperature down.

LTTE militants Having had some insight into the working of Prabhakaran's mind as well as his reaction, I was totally reluctant to have any discussions with him. Most of his interactions with Indian representatives were through personnel of our intelligence agencies over the years. I told Delhi initially when they asked me to undertake these discussions that Prabhakaran's old and established Indian contacts should undertake this task. But General Harkirat Singh viewed the matter differently. At one stage, he even complained about the high commission being unwilling to take on its political responsibilities.

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, Konark Publishers, A-149, Main Vikas Marg, New Delhi 110 001.

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J N Dixit, continued

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