Sri Lanka bids tearful adieu to Kadirgamar
Colombo, August 15
A high-level Indian delegation including Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh, was among the delegations from 12 countries that attended the last rites of Kadirgamar whose mortal remains were consigned to flames as per Buddhist rites.
Brushing aside security concerns, President Chandrika Kumaratunga made an appearance at the Independence Square Park where the pyre of the slain leader, born a Tamil Christian, was lit by his sons, Ajitha and Ragee, amidst multi-faith prayers, capping a mile-long funeral procession when national flag draped Kadirgamar’s body was taken in a hearse.
Mukherjee and Natwar Singh were seated next to Kumaratunga when the last rites were performed in the presence of cabinet ministers from six countries, including Pakistan, Norway and Bangladesh, and members of Kadirgamar’s family.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse said September 11 in New York, July 7 in London, brutal slaying of Rajiv Gandhi and Lankan President Premadasa and assassination of Kadirgamar in Colombo “were events of same magnitude in that they threatened the very fabric of civilised society”. “All countries of the East and the West, of developed and developing worlds must and surely will join together to wipe out terrorism and strengthen the norms and values of a democratic life”, he said.
“The LTTE seeks to destroy the ground realities, their objective is to divide the country and destroy democratic way of life. We have no doubt that all countries of the civilised world will join, as much as we join them, in the common struggle against terrorism in every form and manifestation”, said Rajapakse.
Mukherjee, Natwar Singh and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, on their arrival here drove straight to the official residence of Kadirgamar and laid a wreath on his body shortly after which the funeral began. Kadirgamar was shot dead outside his residence on Friday night by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels.
The Indian delegation offered condolences to Kadirgamar’s wife and Natwar Singh handed over to her a letter from Congress president Sonia Gandhi.