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NDTV exclusive with LTTE chief negotiator Anton Balasingham

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LTTE Accepts Responsibility For Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. Apologises and assures that LTTE wont act against the interests of Govt of India.

June 27, 2006, New Delhi…In an exclusive interview to NDTV correspondent Noopur Tiwari in an undisclosed location in Europe, Anton Balasingham, Chief Negotiator and idealogue of Sri Lanka's LTTE, has for the first time, accepted responsibility for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and apologised.

"As far as that event is concerned, I would say it is a great tragedy, a monumental historical tragedy for which we deeply regret and we call upon the Govt of India and people of India to be magnanimous to put the past behind and to approach the ethnic question in a different perspective”, said Anton Balasingham.

On being asked by NDTV correspondent, whether LTTE’s unhappiness over the accord between the two states led to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, Anton Balasingham said, “No. It happened later on. What has happened is, since we rejected the Sri Lankan accord there were a lot of events that took place creating a gulf between the LTTE and the Govt of India and the Indians later sent an IPKF - Indian Peace Keeping Force to disarm the LTTE and eventually broke out into an open confrontation. We fought a guerrilla war against the Indian army for 2 years and finally the Sri Lankans. We had a negotiation with Sri Lanka and secured the withdrawal of the Indian troops in the 90's and of course finally it was followed by the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. As far as that event is concerned, I would say it is a great tragedy, a monumental historical tragedy for which we deeply regret and we call upon the Govt of India and people of India to be magnanimous to put the past behind and to approach the ethnic question in a different perspective.”

Watch the whole interview at 7.30 pm today on a special Episode of Southern Edition (for states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala) and at 8.00 pm today on India 60 Minutes on NDTV 24X7.

Excerpts of the exclusive interview with Anton Balasingham:

“India helped the Liberation Tigers at a particular historical time to train and arm our fighters, to protect our people from state oppression but the intention was not to create a separate state as such but to help the Tamils to protect themselves and there was a period of Indian intervention from 1983 upto 1987 during which the Sri Lankan Indian accord was written and it was during that time India wanted to find a political solution to the conflict. It is a very complicated history...”

Further Anton Balasingham explains the finer nuances of why the LTTE was not shy of the accord. “We were not very happy with the political solution proposed by India because it did not satisfy the political aspirations of our people. If India has offered a federal solution as she has in her own country then we would have definitely responded positively but the provincial administration suggested by India was totally inadequate to meet the demands of the Tamil people so that’s why we did not support the accord.”

On asked by NDTV correspondent, if the LTTE can give any sort of assurance to India that this kind of a thing wont happen again, Mr Balasingham said, “We have made pledges to the Govt of India that under no circumstances we will act against the interest of the Govt of India and that ever since the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, India played a detached role. What we feel is India should actively involve in the peace process. "

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