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LTTE's confession

According to a Sri Lankan Tamil daily, the key sections of Anton Balasingham's interview on Rajiv Gandhi's assassination were cut out, writes PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Jun 28, 2006 17:00 IST

A leading Sri Lankan Tamil daily has said that key sections of the interview given by the LTTE's chief negotiator Anton Balasingham to the Indian TV channel NDTV, were edited out to give the impression that he had "apologised" for the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

The daily Sudar Oli said on Wednesday that nowhere in the interview did Balasingham say that the LTTE was owning the assassination and that it was apologising for it.

"Only a portion of the interview was shown, and that was made the basis of comments and conclusions," the paper said in a front-page piece.

Balasingham had only said that the LTTE deeply regretted the assassination and had described it as a monumental and historical tragedy.

This was only an extension of what the LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran himself had said in a press conference on April 10, 2002, the paper pointed out.

Asked if the LTTE assassinated Rajiv Gandhi, all that Prabhakaran said was that it was a "thunbiyal nigazhvu" (Tamil for tragic incident).

Sudar Oli's case is that neither Prabhakaran nor Balasingham has admitted involvement in the assassination nor tendered an apology for it.

According to the paper, which gets many exclusives from Balasingham, the LTTE's negotiator had, in fact, explained the chain of events, which led to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. But this had been edited out.

Balasingham had said that India should not consider the assassination as an individual act of murder but as part of a chain of events.

And India should see the incident as being part of the history of its own military involvement in Sri Lanka.

But this was cut out, the paper charged.

To cut this out and say what Balasingham never said (that the LTTE was apologizing after 15 years) was an attempt to create an illusion that the LTTE had acknowledged responsibility for the assassination, the paper said.

It further said that the interview done on Sunday was analysed word by word, certain portions were deliberate chosen and others left out, and an opportunity was given to the Indian government to respond.

And to mollify Balasingham, he had been told that the full interview would be telecast later, the paper reported.