India breaks another LTTE weapon smuggling ring

April 5th, 2009 - 5:47 pm ICT by IANS  

By M.R. Narayan Swamy
New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) India has broken yet another Tamil Tiger ring that sought to smuggle war material to the rebels, arresting four men including a British national of Sri Lankan origin in Chennai.

Acting painstaking sleuthing, the four were formally detained Friday from the southern Chennai suburb of Thiruvanmaiyur. They included a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

It is the first crackdown on the LTTE this year in Tamil Nadu, which is separated from Sri Lanka by a strip of sea and where political passions are running high due to the war against the Tigers in the island that has reached a decisive stage.

Informed sources said the LTTE activist was known only as Sahanthan. He belonged to Mullaitivu in Sri Lanka’s north - where the LTTE is waging a last-ditch battle to save itself from annihilation - and had arrived in India about a year ago.

His mission was to coordinate activities aimed at supplying the LTTE war material, the sources told IANS. He travelled extensively in Tamil Nadu for this purpose.

Arrested with him was British national Jayanathan, who flew into Tamil Nadu recently and who reportedly has had links with the LTTE in the past.

The other two arrested men were identified simply as Babu of Rameswaram and Guhan of Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu. Both are Indians and said to be linked to the Vidhuthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), a pro-LTTE group in Tamil Nadu that is now allied to Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK.

Seized from them were several satellite telephones, global positioning system (GPS), night vision devices as well as medicines that had been neatly packed in crates.

Much of the goods had been bought abroad, underlining that Tamil Nadu seemed to be a transit point for war material that a bruised LTTE desperately needs to battle the relentless military advance, the sources said.

It is clear from Friday’s seizures that the LTTE continues to use Tamil Nadu to source its war needs and that some consignments may have got past the Indian security agencies.

The involvement in the smuggling ring of a Briton of Sri Lankan origin reveals that the Tigers are drawing upon the Tamil diaspora to further their interests.

The latest attempt to smuggle communication equipment, night vision glasses and medicines also shows the Tigers have no plans of giving up their fight against the military, the sources said.

The last major arrest of LTTE suspects in Tamil Nadu took place in December 2008 when the police swooped on Amir Antony Paranthaman. The arrest led to the seizure of satellite telephones and GPS system sent from Switzerland.

The police also then seized 500 kg of ammonium nitrate, a fertiliser component used to make explosives.

Like the LTTE guerrilla arrested Friday, Paranthaman had come to Tamil Nadu some months previously with a singular mission - keep the Tigers supplied with whatever it needs to keep fighting.

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