Sri Lanka was a mistake: Natwar claims Rajiv Gandhi failed to consult Cabinet before sending troops

IPKFFormer Foreign Minister Natwar Singh has said that ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi took the decision to send troops to Sri Lanka without consulting his Cabinet or top officials.

In the second part of his interview with Karan Thapar of Headlines Today, Natwar Singh said Rajiv Gandhi took the decision in Colombo following an afternoon reception hosted by President J. Jayawardene.

Rajiv instantly agreed to Jayawardene’s request for troops and by the time Natwar Singh and P.V. Narasimha Rao, who were also in Colombo, found out, the order had already been given.

Singh also revealed that the decision to forcibly airdrop food parcels on Jaffna was equally casual.

Rajiv and his team did not inform Jayawardene or India’s envoy to the UN. It was only done when Singh pointed out that forcible airdrops amounted to an invasion of Sri Lanka’s sovereign airspace, which could create problems as Colombo was a member of the UN Security Council at the time.

He also claimed Rajiv naively trusted LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran. After he met Prabhakaran, Singh asked if he had got anything in writing from Prabhakaran.

Natwar said Rajiv got irritated and said Prabhakaran “has given me his word”.

Talking in detail about the Indian Peace Keeping Force fiasco, Singh said Indian troops went to Sri Lanka without clear briefings or objectives.

Neither were the troops told about the geography of the Jaffna peninsula nor about LTTE hideouts, he claimed.

From the beginning, the Sri Lankan ethnic issue was mishandled and ended as complete failure, he added.

Singh went on to claim that Operation Brasstacks was cooked up by then Minister of State for Defence Arun Singh and then Army chief Gen K. Sundarji while Rajiv was kept in the dark.

The former Foreign Minister further revealed that Rajiv made a “terrible faux pas” during his very successful visit to China in 1988.

The highlight of the visit was Rajiv’s meeting with Deng Xiaoping. But Rajiv forgot to take the ambassador or the foreign secretary along with him.

Subsequently, when he realised his mistake, he apologised to foreign secretary KPS Menon.

Singh claimed Arun Singh and Arun Nehru wielded much power, exceeded their authority and used their influence without rigour and without care or caution. (Daily Mail)

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