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On July 23 two Indian military helicopters landed on the grounds of Suthumalai Amman Temple near Jaffna, picked up the LTTE delegation comprising of Pirapaharan, Yogaratnam Yogi and Thileepan and flew to Meenambakam Airport. In the meantime, the Tamil Nadu Police informed me of their arrival and I was taken to the airport to meet them… We boarded an Indian Air Force plane and arrived in the Indian capital a few hours later. From the airport, we were taken to Ashoka Hotel and held incommunicado… The Raw officer informed us we were placed under safe custody and we could not leave the Hotel or allow anybody in. Pirapaharan confided to me: “Bala anna I am trapped again.prabhakaran and anton balasinghamMr. Dixit visited us at the hotel. He was grim and serious. Sitting on the Sofa he pulled out his pipe, lit it and puffed out the smoke a couple of times. Seated in front of him we watched him attentively, anticipating clarifications. “A bilateral agreement has been reached between the government and Sri Lanka. The Indian Prime Minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi will visit Colombo soon to sign the agreement. The agreement offers a fair and reasonable solution to the Tamil ethnic question. You should accept this agreement,” Mr. Dixit declared. He took a copy of the agreement out of his pocket and handed it to me. Please translate the document to Mr. Pirapaharan ..I’ll be back in two hours; I hope you will be ready with a positive response.. ”

I translated the document and explained the implications of the proposals. We found the proposals limited and inadequate. While emphasizing a pluralist structure of Sri Lanka society, the agreement recognises the distinct ‘cultural and linguistic ‘ identity of the various ethnic groups thereby rejecting the conceptualisation of nation and nationality. While Sri Lanka ensuring Sri Lanka’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity ‘ the agreement recommends a solution within the unitary constitution. The only positive element in the proposals was the recognition of the northern and eastern provinces as areas of historical habitation of the Sri Lankan Tamil speaking peoples..’

The cardinal feature of the Agreement of the merger of the northern and Eastern Provinces into a single administrative unit. But the merger itself was interim to be subjected to a referendum to allow the ethnic communities in the east to decide over a permanent link with the north. The Agreement allows for the formation of a temporary northeast provincial council with the governor, chief minister and board of ministers. The powers and functions of the provincial council were not specified. Rather a set of proposals negotiated between 4 May 1986 and 19, December 1986 between the governments of Sri Lanka and India and the TULF leaders were recommended as the basis for the settlement.

Residual matter not finalised during these above negotiations shall be resolved between India and Sri Lanka within a period of 6 weeks of signing the agreement. It should be noted that these proposals called the December 19th framework were criticised and rejected by the LTTE in the written response submitted to the government of India in January 1987. The agreement, therefore, fails to deal with any core issues critical to the Tamil question. The most important aspect was the issue on decommissioning. The Agreement stipulated all Tamil militant organisations should be disarmed within 72 hours of the signing of the Accord. ..Pirapaharan’s face turned red when I translated this particular clause .. within the time frame of two hours allocated to us, Pirapaharan made a firm resolute decision, He resolved not to accept the Indo-Lanka accord under any circumstance.

Two hours later, Mr. Dixit returned. He inquired as to whether we had made our decision. We told him that we could not accept the Agreement. We told him in precise terms we could not accept the Agreement. He demanded an explanation. I point out the limitations on the proposals, arguing that they fell far short of Tamil aspirations. The framework proposed in the Agreement was totally unacceptable to the LTTE I said. Pirapaharan argued that it was unfair and unreasonable to disarm the Tamil freedom movement before reaching a permanent political solution with guaranteed security to our people. “How can India ask us to give up our arms within 72 hours? These weapons were captured from the enemy forces with enormous sacrifices over the last fifteen years of bloody armed struggle,” he said raising his voice in anger.

Mr. Dixit dismissed our criticism and argued the provincial framework the best the Tamils could ever hope for. He said there was no need for weapons since as a permanent ceasefire would come into being and an Indian peacekeeping force would maintain peace. He pleaded with us to trust the Indian government and reconsider our decision. We stuck to our position to arguing that we could not trust Jayewardene and the Sinhala armed forces. Dixit became resentful and impatient. Whether you accept it or not this agreement will be signed. This is bilateral agreement between two countries. You will face far-reaching consequences if you oppose it. “Can you tell us what sort of consequences we’ll have to face,” asked Yoga. You will be in our custody here in India until you accept the Accord. Even if you keep us in custody for a long time, even for years, we will never accept this Agreement and hand over our weapons, Pirapaharan replied angrily.

He stared at Pirapaharan and shouted if you refuse to lay down your weapons, we would seize them by force. Your fighters are non-entities in front of the mighty Indian army. Brandishing his pipe at Pirapaharan he went on, “in the time it takes to light this pipe and finish smoking it, the Indian army will wipe out your fighters. Pirapaharan smiled cynically. You can do whatever you like but we’ll never accept this Agreement under any circumstances. Dixit was enraged; his lips trembled in anger. Mr. Pirapaharan you have cheated India four times. “That means I have saved my people 4 times. Unable to tolerate anymore the ill-tempered diplomat got up and walked away.

Anton Balasingam

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