Today marks 27 years since two Tamil activists were shot dead in a Parisian neighbourhood, a murder that shocked the Tamil diaspora worldwide and remains unsolved to this day.
Kandiah Gajendran, also known as Gajan, was the editor of Paris based Tamil weekly 'Eelamurasu' and Kandiah Perinpanathan, known as Nathan, was in-charge of LTTE's international finance. The two men aged 30 and 32-years old respectively, were strolling down Boulevard de La Chapelle on the 26th of October 1996 - a neighbourhood which had a long established and thriving Eelam Tamil community.
As they walked down the street, they were shot dead in cold blood. Both men died en route to the hospital as French police arrived on the scene. As many as three gunmen were reported to have taken part in the assassination.
Reacting to the killings, the LTTE accused the Sri Lankan government of being behind the murders, stating that “by killing these two remarkable individuals, the Sri Lankan government has not only tried to put barriers on the international work in which these two were involved but it also hopes to stop the international solidarity activities of the Tamil community, through creating fear, confusion and panic in their minds”.
"The state sponsored terrorism of the Sri Lankan government has now crossed national boundaries and international waters to perpetrate atrocities against the Tamils in foreign countries as well," said a statement from the LTTE's International Secretariat in London. "The international community should try to identify the perpetrators of this cruel and dastardly act."
TamilNet reported at that "the two killings came at a time when the LTTE was enjoying military success on the battlefield. Having scored their biggest victory of the war by overrunning the Sri Lankan military complex at Mullaitivu, the Tigers were also beating the Sri Lankan army's Operation 'Sath Jaya' to a standstill".
Both men were posthumously given rankings by the LTTE, with Tamils from around the world travelling to Paris to attend their funeral. Their remains lay in France to this day.
Though reports suggested that the French police may have held CCTV footage of the area at the time, the killers have never been brought to justice with no arrests ever having been made.
The Sri Lankan government denied having a role in the assassination, yet the foreign Ministry in Colombo slammed efforts by the LTTE to hold a large scale funeral for the two men.
With reports of plans to hold several events across Europe for the funeral, Colombo said it has "already made the clearest and strongest possible representations to the European Governments concerned, with a view to preventing this". "Those Governments have been unequivocally placed on notice that any such manifestation as planned by the LTTE would, if realised, constitute an encouragement to terrorism," it added.
The assassination was a chilling omen of yet another murder that was to come.
In 2012, Nadarajah Mathinthiran, also known as Paruthi, who headed the French Tamil Coordinating Committee (TCC-France) was shot at least three times and killed as he was leaving the TCC office at Pyranees in Paris 20.
It is not only just Tamil political activists who have been assassinated in Paris. A year after Paruthi was gunned down, three Kurdish activists were also murdered in the French capital.