The recent past: -
With the advent of the DMK government in May 2006, the state has been witnessing a sudden spurt in LTTE movements and activities and many things started happening in the last two and a half years. As the list would be endless if each and every incident is mentioned as per chronological order, a succinct picture of LTTE activities in Tamilnadu in the recent past would suffice.
* Smuggling of arms and ammunition has been going on and weapons have been transported from one place to another before reaching the specified destinations in Sri Lanka’s northern part.
* Hundreds of rocket launchers, tonnes of ball bearings, thousands of gelatin sticks and gelax boosters, tonnes of steel balls, tonnes of aluminium bars, pins, iron rings, clips and plastic materials, thousands of aluminium ingots (mass of metal cast in a convenient form for shaping), other explosive materials including wires and detonators used for making IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) apart from regular arms and ammunition have been regularly transported and smuggled.
* A number of four wheelers and boats including high-speed fibreglass boats, which were used for transporting the smuggled goods, were caught by the state police, Indian Navy and Coast Guard. Some of them were involved in accidents and some of them were destroyed by the ‘Q’ branch police.
* Heavy money transaction has been going on through hawala routes.
* Hundreds of men were arrested. While some of them are local goondas owing allegiance to the political parties of the state, some of them are original LTTE cadres and some of them are Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.
|Soft on terror|
* The weapons and other materials have been sourced from places outside the state like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Karim Nagar, Calicut, etc, thereby establishing the link between LTTE, Maoists, Naxals & Islamic terrorists. The intelligence sources are suspecting the existence of training camps for LTTE cadres in Kerala too.
* The Tamilnadu fishermen were attacked by Sri Lankan Navy every now and then, in which scores were killed and many injured. Later investigations revealed that, the Indian fishermen were attacked mainly by the LTTE and that the attack by Sri Lankan Navy has been meager, only when the fishermen cross over to Sri Lankan waters.
* Sri Lankan Navy denied the allegations and said that it never entered the Indian waters at all, respecting the IMBL (International Marine Border Line) and that the LTTE was indulging in such attacks in order to bring disrepute to them. The Indian Fishermen also indulged in smuggling on behalf of LTTE, either by fear-motivation or by money-motivation. The Sri Lankan Navy also attacked them sometimes under the pretext that they could not identify properly whether they were fishermen or militants.
* As the media reported the activities of LTTE and arrests of the cadres and militants every now and then, the great sympathisers of LTTE, the political leaders of Tamilnadu, maintained a deafening silence! At the same time, when the attacks on the Indian fishermen were reported in the media, they jumped to conclusions without verifying the facts and started shouting at the top of their voice asking the central government to stop sending military aids to Sri Lanka and take stringent actions against the Lankan government. These leaders even justified the smuggling activities of LTTE, by saying that the LTTE had no other alternative, as the Lankan government was getting helps from Pakistan and China. The Chief Minister Karunanidhi went to the extent of warning the central government that the people of Tamilnadu would wage a war with Sri Lankan Navy if the attacks on Indian fishermen continued and if the Indian government remained as a mute spectator.
| Fighting terror|
* A delegation of Tamil MPs from Sri Lanka owing allegiance to LTTE met Vaiko, Karunanidhi and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, requesting for the Indian government’s meaningful interference in order to bring a lasting solution for the decades old ethnic problem.
* A delegation from ENDLF (Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front), whose office bearers are well settled in countries like Australia, Canada, UK and France sought India’s intervention to protect Eelam Tamils. They said that they were not for the elimination of LTTE and that they wanted a democratic and plural state for Tamils. They demanded an autonomous state or a federal set up free from the control of Sri Lankan Parliament.
* The Sri Lankan government requested the Indian government for facilitating a ‘Joint Patrolling’ in the sea, which was also welcomed by our Defense Ministry and Armed Forces. But, the Tamilnadu Chief Minister applied the brakes on this important step towards arresting the LTTE activities by using his influence in the Congress High Command.
* On 10 October 2007 a VCK functionary by name Vanniyarasu was nabbed by the ‘Q’ Branch Police red handed while smuggling ‘motors’ & high-speed boat parts allegedly for LTTE, which was denied by the VCK President Thirumavalavan. Vanniyarasu was released on bail on the same evening after Thirumavalavan went and met the Chief Minister. Thirumavalavan said that the arrest of Vanniyarasu was a conspiracy by the IB to put pressure on DMK.
| Remembering terror but helpless|
In the meantime, the Norway sponsored peace negotiation ended up in a failure and both the sides started engaging themselves in low profile wars. The LTTE managed to acquire a few lightweight fighter aircrafts and launched two successful attacks on Sri Lankan air bases by sending a team of Air-tigers on two aircrafts. On the whole the intermittent conflicts resulted in major losses for LTTE, which caused a great concern for the Tamilnadu politicians.
The number three leader of LTTE S P Tamilselvam, who took the mantle of leadership of the political wing after the illness and the consequent demise of Anton Balasingham, got killed along with four others in an air strike last year by the Sri Lankan Air Force. A fatal attack like this was waiting to happen right from the day President Mahindra Rajapakse showed shrewdness and alacrity more than his predecessors, a half-hearted Chandrika Kumaratunga and a sober Ranil Vickramasinghe, in dealing with the terrorist organisation. Despite facing some fatal damages on his side, Rajapkse seemed to have been determined to wipe out the LTTE. In contrast, the LTTE seemed to have underestimated Rajapakse’s caliber and efficiency and also had provoked him by striking Sri Lankan Air bases with the two light aircrafts they acquired.
Meanwhile, the reaction from the Tamilnadu Chief Minister eulogising the killed leader of the banned organisation created a sort of stir in the political circles. He had penned a poem in mourning the death of the slain LTTE leader and the poem praised him in the name of Tamil and Tamils. Apart from the Chief Minister, the other leaders like Dr.Ramadas of PMK, K Veeramani of DK and Thirumavalavan of VCK, who are open supporters of LTTE, have sung praises of the slain leader exhibiting contempt for the Indian Law.
The DK and VCK have organised condolence meetings as homage for the killed LTTE leader publicly and conducted protest demonstrations against the Sri Lankan Government. All these leaders, including the Chief Minister, justified their actions by saying that, Tamil Blood is running in their bodies and hence there is nothing wrong in their mourning the death of another Tamil leader, who was killed by Sri Lankan army! This Tamil blood was conspicuously missing when other Tamil leaders like Amirthalingam, Sabarathinam and Padmanabha were murdered by the LTTE. This Tamil blood was not there when thousands of innocent Tamils of Sri Lanka including Muslims were killed by the LTTE.
AIADMK leader Jayalalitha, who played a major role in curtailing the activities of the LTTE in the state during her regimes, condemned these actions of the Chief Minister and other leaders. She had also asserted that her party would approach the Supreme Court against these leaders. The state BJP leaders and Janatha Party President Subramaniam Swamy have also condemned the LTTE supportive actions of these leaders. In fact, Dr.Swamy had demanded the dismissal of Karunanidhi’s government.
The state Congress leaders, in a rare show of unity, have joined together and condemned the Chief Minister and the other leaders, who have eulogised the slain LTTE leader and mourned his death. They have asserted that they could not tolerate anyone supporting the organisation, which had assassinated their beloved leader Rajiv Gandhi. While the state leaders have shown a considerable amount of courage in condemning their alliance partners, the central Congress leaders including the Prime Minister and the Congress Chief have kept quiet exhibiting their weakness, double standards and greed for power.
The Congress spokespersons like Jayanthi Natrajan and Veerappa Moily have opined that the actions of Tamilnadu allies are personal having nothing to do with the government! When the silence of the Congress high command came under severe criticism, the AICC brought a resolution, for the sake of it, condemning the support shown by the Tamilnadu Political parties.
When MDMK (Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) President Vaiko and Tamil Nationalist Movement leader Pazha Nedumaran along with hundreds of their cadres attempted to take out a procession on 12 November 2007 condoling the killing of LTTE leader S P Thamilchelvan, against the prohibitory orders of Tamil Nadu Police, they were arrested and sent to 15 days Judicial Custody. Later they obtained bail after four days. The government allowed only the alliance leaders to organise condolence meetings and protests demonstrations in support of the LTTE, but arrested other leaders, as if they are not having ‘Tamil blood’!
In the last week of November 2007, the then DGP of Tamil Nadu had announced that the activities such as demos, processions, rallies, indoor meetings and condolence meetings in support of terror outfits would not be allowed and that actions would be taken as per the Unlawful Activities Act of 1967. But there was no mention about writing elegies in his statement! He had also said that actions would be taken even on VIPs and VVIPs if they support banned organisations. It was a wonder whether the DGP had got the permission to issue such statements to the people through the media! The amusing fact was that, this concerned ‘Act’ has been there since 1967 and the LTTE had been banned since 1991 and the DGP’s statement comes after almost all the Pro LTTE parties including the DMK have openly demonstrated in support of LTTE.
On 9 December 2007, the ‘Q’ Branch police nabbed a ‘Sea-Tiger’ and his accomplice (S Jayakumar and S James) involved in purchasing of boats, spare parts of speedboats and computer hardware helped by a local sympathiser S.Ravikumar, a resident of Chennai. The arrested men have reportedly confirmed the involvement of VCK functionary Vanniyarasu in smuggling of such spare parts.
On 13 December Thirumavalavan, while leading a protest demonstration in Chingleput against the state police force, spoke openly in support of LTTE. He had said, ‘As we are not able to carry arms and fight against the Sri Lankan Army, we feel proud at the allegation that we smuggle motors and spare parts to help LTTE’. Union Minister and Congress leader. E V K S Elangovan referring to the reported speech of the VCK leader, demanded action against Thirumavalavan if there was a prima facie evidence. Thirumavalavan waxed eloquent that he had not violated the rule of law, as the government had not banned the outfit for the year 2007, only to be snubbed later by AIADMK leader Jayalalitha that the ban was extended by her and that it would expire only in 2008. Jayalalitha demanded stringent action against the parties and leaders who were openly supporting LTTE in the name of Tamil-interests.
Meanwhile, Commodore PE Van Halteren, Naval Officer in charge of Tamilnadu, had categorically said that the Sri Lankan Navy didn’t enter Indian waters at all and this statement had somehow outraged the MDMK leader Vaiko, who shot off a letter to the Prime Minister saying that both the Indian and Sri Lankan Navies are conspiring against the Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian fishermen!
On 17 December, the National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, after meeting the Chief Minister Karunanidhi, told the media that the UPA government was careful about the LTTE activities and he also appreciated (!) the state government for having a strict control (!) over LTTE and Naxal activities.
To make matters worse, the ruling party and its allies such as PMK, DK and VCK apart from an opposition party MDMK along with radical outfits such as TNP (Tamil Nationalist Party led by Nedumaran) and PDK (Periyar Dravida Kazhagam) are openly flaunting their support for the banned terror organisation. Though AIADMK supremo Jayalalitha’s charges against the government and the Chief Minister were sensible and significant, the presence of MDMK in her alliance, turned out to be an impediment for her whenever she opposed the government on the LTTE issue.
(To be contd...)