If the Sri Lankan Tamil problem is to be solved, and unrest in Tamil Nadu prevented, LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran should be made to retire and not killed, says the Indian security expert B Raman.
In an interview to the leading Sri Lankan Tamil daily Virakesari on Sunday, Raman said that liquidation of Prabhakaran would be counter productive because it would tremendously agitate the people of Tamil Nadu.
The best option, he said, was for the moderates in the LTTE to persuade Prabhakaran to retire and had over power to them.
Raman, who is currently Director of the Institute of Topical Studies in Chennai after retiring as Additional Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat in New Delhi, was commenting on the Sri Lankan armed forces' alleged bid to bust Prabhakaran's bunker with Pakistani expertise.
For India to play a meaningful role in the resolution of the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict, the LTTE should cleanse itself of people involved in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the Indian expert said.
Not only Prabhakaran, but all others involved in plotting the assassination of the Rajiv Gandhi, should be out of the decision making apparatus of the LTTE, Raman said.
India would not talk to the LTTE if Prabhakaran and his extremist coterie were at the helm of affairs, he said.
Raman said that the present political wing leader of the LTTE SP Tamilselvan could be considered a moderate and that either Tamilselvan or some one like him, should take over the leadership and begin negotiations.
In Raman's view, India and Sri Lanka should see the LTTE and Prabhakaran as two different entities.
He pointed out that the Americans had made a distinction between Yasser Arafat and the PLO and had refused to talk to the PLO so long as Arafat the "terrorist" was heading it. There were peace talks only after Arafat quit the leadership of the PLO, Raman said.
On his apprehensions about Pakistan's role in Sri Lanka, he said that although the Pakistan-Sri Lankan defense cooperation was being hailed for its role in helping Colombo meet the LTTE's challenge, Pakistan had helped the LTTE at one point of time.
Pakistan was playing a double game in Sri Lanka, he alleged, recalling that Islamabad had supplied arms to the LTTE in the early 1990s.
It was when the LTTE was bringing arms from Pakistan that the ship carrying them was intercepted by the Indian navy while in Indian waters, Raman said. On board was Kittu, one of LTTE's top commanders. He went down with the ship.