Vijitha Rohana Wijemuni, the Sri Lankan naval rating who tried to kill then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi here on July 30, 1987, a day after the India-Sri Lanka Accord was signed, is still unrepentant.
“I am glad I did it. Because that was the only way I could make some protest against India for pushing us to sign the accord. I had to suffer a lot for it. But there is no regret over what I did,” Wijemuni (48) told the Daily Mirror newspaper.
When Express approached him for an interview to mark the 26th anniversary of the murderous attack, he flatly refused. “I don’t want to talk to the Indian media,” he said.
Wijemuni was an angry young man of 22 when he took a sudden decision to reverse his rifle and have a swipe at Rajiv’s head during the naval guard of honor at the Sri Lankan President’s house for the visiting Indian Prime Minister. Rajiv was barely three feet away when Wijemuni was seized by an uncontrollable urge to strike.
Asked if he meant to kill Rajiv, he told the Daily Mirror: “My intention was that, because of the damage he had caused to our country.”
Wijemuni believes that Rajiv knew that he would be attacked. “Actually 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.”
Asked if he was anti-India, Wijemuni said: “I am not. In fact, I am a great lover of Indian music and songs. Most of the CDs I sell are Indian!”
At the trial, his lawyers argued that he did not intend to kill. If he did, he would have bayoneted Rajiv rather than reversed his rifle and hit him with the butt. After spending two-and-a-half years in prison, Wijemuni was pardoned by President R Premadasa.
Now a record shop owner and a professional astrologer, he is in the forefront of the movement to annul the India-Lanka Accord.