Book by ex-U.S diplomat says country should have then sent troops to Sri Lanka to kill or nab Prabakaran

India should have sent its troops back to Sri Lanka to kill or capture Velupillai Prabakaran and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leadership after the assassination of the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, says a new book by a former U.S. diplomat.

Rajiv Gandhi's killing was an attack on India's status as a regional power. Forcibly bringing Prabakaran to India to face trial would have sent a clear message to the region, and the world, that India would defend its political leaders from attack, defend its political system from intimidation and defend its primacy in South Asia against any challengers, the author says.

A frightened India became content with being a passive regional power rather than active global power, says the book China's Nightmare, America's Dream: India as the next global power by William H. Avery, former American diplomat.

Mr. Avery was on posting in India and served in the U.S. Department of State during the Presidential tenures of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

“India's window of opportunity to influence Sri Lanka will never be as wide open as it was in 1991 after Rajiv's killing,” the author says, adding that India's craven inaction in Sri Lanka after the assassination cost it valuable years in its quest to become a global power.

The events of 1991 that included the shame of having been required to sell its gold and killing by a terrorist organisation of its former Prime Minister were a low point in the history of modern India.

Seven years after its annus horribilis, India, however, was able to make its first crucial step towards true power — the move that stunned the world — and earned India virtually universal approbation. “But history has proven India's 1998 nuclear test to have been a wise choice,” says Mr. Avery. The Pokhran test changed India overnight into a ‘frontline' post in the U.S. Foreign Service. It also made India a much more interesting assignment for an American diplomat, the author says.