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Lankan sailor who hit Rajiv Gandhi is now astrologer, music seller

Former Lanka Navy sailor Vijitha Rohana Wijemuni attacked Rajiv Gandhi in Colombo in ‘87

About 7 km from Colombo’s Fort area, on the second floor of the Nugegoda supermarket, sits a bearded, bespectacled and balding man, with two computers on his desk and shelves with music CDs and cassettes.

There is nothing really remarkable about the shop which sells music and some stationery products. Except its 46-year-old astrologer-owner.

In 1987, Vijitha Rohana Wijemuni was a Sri Lankan Navy sailor. And on July 30 that year he tried to hit then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi with his rifle butt during a guard of honour at the Sri Lankan President’s House in Colombo.

He had swung his rifle, but Rajiv managed to duck and miss the full brunt of the blow, even though the rifle struck him. Wijemuni was quickly restrained, court-martialed and jailed for six years. He was let off after about two-and-half years by President R Premadasa through a presidential pardon.

He now sells CDs of Buddhist chants, some Sinhala movies and even old Hindi hits. He says he does not want to talk after this reporter is introduced as an Indian journalist. After some persuasion, he agrees to only talk about his astrology and nothing about the Rajiv incident.

Asked about his predictions for the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, Wijemuni, who contested elections under the ultra-nationalist Sinhala Urumaya party in 2000, says Rajapaksa will not be president after the next elections.

He says he follows Indian politics too.

So who will win the 2014 elections in India? “BJP will come to power,” he replies. And Rajiv’s son Rahul? “He will become PM, but in the elections after the next one.”

He also said Rahul has a “long life” and that eastern societies have a tradition of family dynasties, which is a “normal thing”.

Prodded gently about whether he felt what he did in July 1987 was right, on the day the India-Sri Lanka peace accord was signed, Wijemuni said: “Rajiv Gandhi tried to create a separate state…that was wrong. He was unjustified, so it was natural justice. If Rahul Gandhi wants to be PM, he should not strive to make a separate state here.”

… contd.

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