Tamil Nadu arrests betray LTTE dependence on India

August 8th, 2008 - 1:48 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By M.R. Narayan Swamy
New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) A sudden spurt in the arrests of Tamil Tigers and their Indian associates in Tamil Nadu indicates the growing dependence of the Sri Lankan group on India to source its war materials, official sources say. Amid serious military setbacks in Sri Lanka, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) appears to have stepped up efforts to procure a variety of goods and equipment from Tamil Nadu.

Since July 1, seven Indian and Sri Lankan Tamils each have been taken into custody in Tamil Nadu. Of the Sri Lankans, four were from the LTTE, including a senior leader of the Sea Tigers known as Thambi Anna.

Thambi Anna is being described as one of the most senior LTTE operatives ever to be caught in Tamil Nadu, a state of some 70 million people separated from Sri Lanka by a strip of sea.

According to home ministry sources here, both the Intelligence Bureau and the Tamil Nadu police were involved in making some of the arrests, including that of Thambi Anna.

The seven Indians taken into custody are those who decided to assist the Tigers for monetary benefits.

None of them appeared to be ideologically committed to the LTTE cause.

The sources told IANS that from the equipment seized from the arrested men, it looked as if the Tigers might be changing their communication mode to weed out electronic infiltration by Colombo.

The Tigers were also buying locally made contraptions that use mobile phones to switch on, from a distance, generator-operated motors to water the fields.

These contraptions, it is feared, could be put to dual use with devastating effect.

The arrested LTTE men have reportedly told their interrogators that the Tigers were facing a major resource crunch and that this would only increase the group’s dependence on Tamil Nadu and India.

The LTTE has for years used Tamil Nadu as a base for its separatist campaign. These linkages fell dramatically following the 1991 killing by a LTTE suicide bomber of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

But with fighting escalating now in Sri Lanka, where the military is closing in on LTTE territory in the north, and the LTTE shipping lines facing major threats, the Tigers are again turning to neighbouring India.

The Tigers have not taken kindly to the relentless crackdown on its members and supporters in India, where it once had sanctuaries and where it remains an outlawed group since 1992.

In recent times, the LTTE has stepped up criticism of India while the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the biggest Tamil group in the Sri Lankan parliament, urges New Delhi to pressure Colombo to go slow in the war, citing civilian suffering.

During his visit to Colombo earlier this month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met a cross section of Tamil groups and told them that India favoured the return of democracy to Sri Lanka’s northeast, the war zone. The LTTE controls a part of the Sri Lankan north.

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