‘Of that egg attack’- response
In your editorial, with the above heading, on 23rd April, where you referred to missile throwing at VIPs in several countries, you had missed our own. I refer to the incident in July 1987 where a Naval rating ( I forget his name) from Rathgama, who was in the honour guard to Rajiv Gandhi, aimed an abortive rifle butt attack on him. This honour guard was offered when the Indian Prime Minister was about to leave the country after concluding the infamous Indo-Sri Lanka Accord. You will recall that CNN showed this incident in their news, over and over again for the next few days, probably with some relish. However, neither Rajiv Gandhi nor the Indian Government made any further fuss about it and the matter was soon forgotten. The accord itself led to the spree of violence unleashed by the JVP which lasted for nearly the next three years.
Of course, in this case, there was a clear criminal offence disclosed and the naval rating was immediately arrested, charged and convicted and duly jailed. He was expelled form the Navy, for his trouble. To my mind, this incident was the expression of the fury and deep resentment of a sovereign nation that was humiliated by another sovereign nation. I have referred to the background of this happening in my article on the 13th Amendment published in your columns last week.
Another aspect is that this incident led to some important changes in the security procedures in VIP security, probably in the whole world. The honour guards thereafter had the red carpet laid at least 6 feet away from the front rank of the honour guard so that the VIP walked ceremonially inspecting the ranks only at a safe distance. Also, the inspection was confined to the front rank leaving out the rear rank.
In Sri Lanka, we developed a new security drill of inspecting the rifle barrels of the honour guard participants by a responsible senior officer when they lined for the parade and he was required to give a certificate of safety. At the rate the politicians are falling out of favour with the people and the tensions that grow among the people, this procedure may have to be revived if not practiced now.