Priyanka Gandhi takes 17 years to make peace with father's assassination
- a possible opening for India to take a direct role in Sri Lanka

Shenali Waduge

Would it be an exaggeration to say that Sri Lanka has had a raw deal (pun intended) with India politically? Being close neighbors one would have thought otherwise however, where the geopolitics of Sri Lanka was concerned India saw to it that no decision was taken that effected India's dominance of the region. From creating & nurturing the present conflict to wanting to remain a silent observer to the negotiations, peace talks or facilitations that took place, India ensured that its place was sealed & never forgotten.

While initially India preferred not to directly involve itself in direct negotiations towards the solution of the crisis in Sri Lanka in view of its double standards there are renewed calls for India's intervention. However, there is an obstacle that denies India's involvement - it is the Rajiv Gandhi assassination & the LTTE involvement with India accusing the LTTE leader Prabakaran for the murder of Rajiv Gandhi.

If Nalini Sriharan's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment at the request of the Gandhi family, is it then likely that there may be a chance of an exoneration for the LTTE & Prabakaran of Rajiv's murder in the near future, perhaps for the sake of brining peace to Sri Lanka? It is these questions that surface no sooner Priyanka's journey to Vellor prison surfaced & many began to ask "why"!

The Gandhi family has led an intriguing life. Feroze, Indira, Sanjay & Rajiv all died unnatural deaths quite reminiscent of their counterparts the Bhutto's of Pakistan. Feroze Gandhi, Priyanka's grandfather died mysteriously at the age of 48 in Kashmir, Priyanka's uncle Sanjaya died in a mysterious plane crash when she was only 8 years old, two years later Priyanka's grandmother Indira, was gunned down by her own bodyguards. It then should come as no surprise when the intrigue & mystery should eventually include Priyanka's own father Rajiv who was blown to pieces by a suicide bomber in 1991 when Priyanka was a teenager of 17 years.

Incidentally, it was exactly 17 years following Rajiv's death that Priyanka decides to visit the only remaining accused Nalini Sriharan serving commuted death sentence at Vellore prison for her role in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination in a quest to come to terms with her father's death. It is also interesting to note that Nalini's daughter Megara born in prison is also entering her 17th year as well.

The "Why" question raised by Priyanka during her hour long meeting with Nalini also encourages rumors at the time of a larger conspiracy behind the murder of Rajiv Gandhi, pointing its finger thousands of miles across the oceans to an agency run by the most powerful nation in the world. Of the 26 accused during the almost 6 year trial, there is only Nalini Sriharan left which leaves very little room to find the "truth"if the order came from anyone other than Prabakaran.

For Priyanka & her brother Rahul who says they don't keep any hatred or violence, it may be good to recall when her grandmother Prime Minister Indira Gandhi massacred over 5000 Sikhs during the 1984 riots & wonder why not a single person was found guilty of the murders. Would the visit to Vellore also accept the visits of family members of the other innocent civilians who perished along with Rajiv that fateful day in May 1991 to allow them to also ask "why" from Nalini? Priyanka may call it a personal initiative but can anyone enter any prison & meet a person for one hour in private?

We are well aware that the Intelligence Bureau were involved in arranging the secret meeting. While Priyanka is not a VVIP despite being the daughter of the Chairperson of the UPA & President of the Congress she has to accept that her visit to Vellore prison could not be arranged on her own without involvement of other powers & for this reason those in charge of the prisons should be accountable for not even having Priyanka's name included in the prison visitor's records.

Whether bans are lifted, peace talks prevails, new facilitators join the bandwagon to garner peace what remains unaltered is a resolve of a man committed to a separate state. There is one thing that anyone cannot deny of Prabakaran - that is his commitment to his cause, a consistent & steadfast resolve that has remained in tact despite his meetings & agreements with practically all the leaders of Sri Lanka, India & scores of other foreigners who have met him with the intention of outsmarting him & even trying to bribe him with arms, ammunition & what not.

It then beckons to reason out that outsmarting such a man with similar gimmicks is unlikely to work giving rise to the present need for the world to finally decide whether LTTE is a terrorist outfit & then onto how it should be dealt with in the manner that the present day terrorists are being dealt with by the super powers.

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