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“I Intended to Kill Rajiv Gandhi” Says Wijemuni the Ex-Naval Rating Who Attacked Indian Premier in 1987


Susitha R.Fernando

(Vijitha Rohana Wijemuni the Naval rating who attacked then Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi with his rifle butt in Colombo is now running his own record bar and doubles up as an astrologer.He spoke to « Daily Mirror” in an exclusive interview about the his eventful past explaining his motives and mindset)

Excerpts :

Q. Twenty six years after the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord now once again there is controversy over the 13th Amendment, the Provincial Council system and arguments for and against their continuation. What is your position today on this?

President J. R. Jayewardene signed this agreement against his conscience. He had no option but to sign it. Obviously to win voted in Tamil Nadu, Gandhi on the request of former Chief Minister M. G. Ramachandran violated our air space and dropped food in Jaffna. This was a warning to President Jayawardene. Then Mr.Jayewardene sent former National Security Minister Lalith Athulathmudali to the United States to meet President Ronald Ragan. However the US which was more interested in the Indian market refused to intervene in this crisis. President Jayewardene was thus helpless and had no option but to sign the Accord.

So even today I am strongly opposed to the 13 A and any move to divide this country. Why should we be scared of any outsider. We have defeated the most ruthless terrorist outfit in the world and I see no reason why we be scared of India.

We are not a state under India and we should do what we want. We must devolve powers through other local government bodies but should do away with the white elephant of Provincial Councils.

Q. Do you see that President Rajapaksa is facing the same problem like President Jayewardene?

President Jayawardene had no option but President Rajapaksa is not under such a pressure. We must immediately do away with the 13A. I will have faith in President Rajapaksa, the day he does that.

Q. You contested the General Election and had some taste of a political rat race in Sri Lanka. What is your opinion of Sri Lankan politics and politicians?

Most of the politicians today are scarecrows. They don’t have backbones. Just look at the cabinet. If the people want to get something done it has to come through the President. Unless the President gets involved a little or nothing happens in this country. The politicians must be responsible for the promises they gave to their voters. The other problem is the quality of some politicians we have. Some of them act like state sponsored thugs while others are involved in anti-social activities openly. Our voters too must take some responsibilty for this situation. They don’t think about values and principles of the politicians for whom they are voting. The politicians are concerned mainly about how much money they can throw in to the campaign and how many posters they can paste on the walls.

I dont think any one of the two main political parties have done much to this country. The UNP was continuously in power for 17 years till 1994 and the SLFP or UPFA has been in power for nearly 19 years. We can see what both these governments had done to the country.

Q.In your view what are the biggest failures in these governments?

Rampant corruption and lack of clear state policies. Our economic policies are changed according to the government’s whims and fancies. We are not self sufficient in most products. Look at India. It is self sufficient in milk and dairy products. India’s state or economic policy and policies on other important issues do not change when the government changes. We must reach that level.

Q. You are now a well-known, fulltime astrologer. What made you to pursue with this area?

While I was in prison I had ample time to study. So I read lots of books on astrology. It is a science that has to be mastered with dedication and I did so. Today I share my knowledge on a number of private television channels and radios. I also have an office at the Nugegoda Supermarket.

Q. It is said that many politicians specially in the East follow astrology seriously. Through astrology do you see any major changes in the Sri Lankan political scene?

I have made several predictions earlier and they have come true. I predict there will be major political cange in June next year and a number of government MPs would cross over from the government.

Q. You seemed to be a born fighter and right now you have waged a war against the Mayor of Kotte over the proposal to demolish this supermarket?

I don’t get involved in fighting unnecessarily. But whenever and wherever an injustice is done, I think it’s my duty to speak. That is why we are protesting against the present Mayor’s move to demolish this supermarket. It is not an unfair or unreasonable protest. We firmly believe in what we do.

Q. Coming back to your assault on Rajiv Gandhi. Was it a pre-planned or a spontaneous move to attack the leader of one of the world’s most powerful countries? Can you explain how it all happened?

When I was told to join the parade I expressed my reluctance. But I was ordered to take part in the guard-of-honour and I did not chose to be in the front line. In the original list it was one Mahendran, who was to be in the front-line. But he was dropped and I was asked to stand there. On the day of the parade all of us were taken to Janadipathi Mawatha and we stood in two rows and I happened to be in the first row. We were armed with rifles with fixed bayonets. When Mr. Gandhi came on to the stage put up on the pavement of the President’s House, Lt. Mendis who was in charge of the parade invited him to inspect the guard-of-honour and the Premier came there from the right side. Mr. Gandhi was in front and on his left was Lt. Mendis and a member of the Indian Prime Minister’s security was behind.
While I was waiting at the guard-of-honour I was restless and angry over what India and Premier Gandhi had done to our country. But it was too late as the accord had already been signed. This had made me more angry and I thought I must do something to avenge the disaster caused to our country. I was thinking how India was helping the LTTE with money, arms and military training. The idea to attack with the rifle struck my mind when Rajiv Gandhi was about two or three feet away from me.

Q. Did you intended to kill Mr. Gandhi?

Yes. My intention was that because of the damage he had caused to our country.

Q. But it was prevented?

Yes he saw my shadow and he bent. Actually I think Prime Minister Gandhi knew that we Sri Lankans did not like him. He came to the guard-of-honour with his security guards. Normally state leaders do not go to guards of honour with their own security. Mr. Gandhi was obviously scared.

Q. So what do you think now, about what you did 26 years ago?

I am glad that I did it. Because that was the only way I could make some protest against India over pushing us to sign the Indo-Lanka Accord. I did it and I had to suffer a lot for it. But there is no regret over what I did.

Q. But you expressed your deepest sympathy on the assassination of Mr. Gandhi in 1991?

Yes. I did because as a human being I had nothing against the India Premier, but it was against what he did and his opportunistic policies to support the LTTE. Had he not intervened we would have eliminated LTTE long time ago. I sent a condolence message and even the Indian government was pleased with it and Indian government did announce it to the media also.

Q. Are you against India?

I am not. In fact I am a great lover of Indian music and songs. Most of these cassettes and CDs I sell at my record bar are Indian.

Q. How was your experience in the prison?

I had no problem in prison as I was allowed to spend my time freely. I even didn’t have to wear the prisoner’s outfit. I know even Gen. Sarath Fonseka had to wear this but I got an exemption. I was wearing a suit similar to a national dress prepared in the prison.

Q. Do you have any intention to join politics?

I am not happy with the two main parties who had ruled the country. But I am ready to serve the people at anytime.