Indian seizures show LTTE’s game to fight long war

June 13th, 2008 - 1:57 pm ICT by IANS  

By M.R. Narayan Swamy
New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) Large quantities of explosives and other war material meant for Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers are being seized in Tamil Nadu in south India, indicating the guerrillas’ game to wage a long war. Security agencies from the central and Tamil Nadu governments are regularly confiscating from the coastal belt ammunition and dual use goods that officials say are destined for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

As the costly war rages on in Sri Lanka, between the LTTE and a Colombo regime determined to crush the Tigers, Tamil Nadu seems to have assumed renewed significance in the context of the war theatre.

Since the start of 2007 until now, Indian authorities have seized unusually large volumes of ball bearings that are used as shrapnel, aluminium bars, both ordinary and electronic detonators, boat building equipment, walkie-talkies, batteries and petroleum products.

Also found hidden or abandoned have been chemicals including sulphuric acid, high-speed outboard engines for boats, cycle spares, tyres for cycles and motorcycles, power generators, and surgical equipment including medicines.

The seizures also include beedis - the poor man’s cigarette, now a prized commodity in Sri Lanka’s war-battered north.

Some of the seizures run into tonnes. The detonators have been found in thousands. The quantity of chemicals totals hundreds of litres.

A vast majority of the findings have been reported from the coastal district of Ramnad, which overlooks Mannar district in northwestern Sri Lanka. Arrests of couriers have been few in relation to the materials seized.

Some of the seized goods were found buried or in safe houses. Others were simply abandoned when the police came too close to catching the messengers. Both Sri Lankan and Indian Tamils have been involved, some for the larger cause and some purely for money.

Indian officials who watch Sri Lanka’s escalating conflict are drawing their conclusions.

The fact that such large quantities are being seized is a sign that much larger quantities are being sought — an indicator of what the LTTE is looking for from the nearest land source in view of the damage suffered by its shipping lines.

The seizures also show that while it may be facing military reverses, the LTTE is in no mood to give up the fight. If anything, it is preparing for a long haul, using stuff smuggled from Tamil Nadu to prepare mines — one of the most lethal weapons in that seemingly unending conflict.

The LTTE uses the lure of its Tamil nationalist ideology and money to procure what it wants from Tamil Nadu, a state it knows well and one separated from Sri Lanka by a narrow strip of sea.

For anything and everything seized, it is safe to conclude that much more must be getting through to Sri Lanka.

And despite claims that the LTTE’s naval wing has weakened considerably, the Tigers are succeeding in navigating past Tamil Nadu’s coastal security and also the Indian and Sri Lankan sea patrols.

According to Indian officials, the LTTE has also tried to build a huge vessel in Kerala and tried to procure mortars from Tamil Nadu.

And as the war escalates, the Tigers’ dependence on Tamil Nadu is only expected to rise.

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