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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 104

TN has become safe haven for militants

By M Rama Rao, India Editor, Asian Tribune, New Delhi,

New Delhi, 23 April ( Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has come down heavily on the successor DMK regime saying that there is a free run of militants in the state. Her focus was limited to Naxalites though there are reports that the LTTE also has become active once again in Tamil Nadu.

"The state has become a safe haven for militants", she said in a statement issued in Chennai from her fortress like Poes Garden residence, and pointed to the killing of a Naxalite leader N. Naveen alias Prasad in Kodaikanal to supporter her contention.

"Karunanidhi government is not taking the issue seriously", Jayalalithaa criticised.

She said people were waiting for a change of government to control the menace. "The Naxalite movement in Kodaikanal would affect tourist arrivals to the hill resort," she remarked in her statement.

Naveen was shot dead by the police in the forests near Vada Kaunji village, 40 km from Ooty on Saturday. He was expert in operating all weapons and use of hand grenades.

Notwithstanding the bad blood between the two Dravidian parties – DMK and AIADMK, Jayalalithaa's statement critique acquires significance since the LTTE has emerged as the centre of competitive populism in Tamil Nadu after a long time. Both chief minister Karunanidhi and maverick MDMK leader V Gopalasamy, (Vaiko) have, in their own way, picked up the refrain that Sri Lankan Tamils – a euphemism for LTTE – are in distress and India should play a role in helping them.

This phase in Tamil Nadu politics has coincided with the Gandhi family's willingness to forgive Nalini Sriharan, the lone surviving assassin, presently enjoying a reprieve in the Vellore jail. Nalini was awarded death sentence by the special court which had tried the Rajiv assassins but it was commuted to life term on the intervention of Sonia Gandhi.

From various accounts it appears that the LTTE has again become active in Tamil Nadu, particularly southern districts these days. The Tigers appear to have fallen back on the belt, which is a familiar turf for them from the days prior to the IPKF misadventure, for food, fuel and medicines. The south coast Tamil Nadu also has a well oiled smuggling network which also appears to have come in handy for the Tigers, whose primary requirement as of now is logistics support.

On their own the Tigers also maintain a wide network of committed sympathizers and mercenary supporters to sustain their supply chain.

Dozens of incidents of smuggling and over 100 arrests in the last couple of years stand testimony to the Tigers' network in the state, local reports say. Since May 2006, 31 Sri Lankan Tamilians and some 70 local Tamilians were arrested on charges of smuggling.
About 50 Lankan Tamils, seven of them hard-core Tigers, are held in a special camp for suspected militants and their sympathizers in Chengalpattu.

Indian officials believe that Tigers are increasingly turning to the Malabar coast for their clandestine operations. Some recent arrests in Kerala show that Tigers are placing orders for new vessels on local boat builders. This development is significant though doesn't come as a surprise Sri Lankan navy had inflicted heavy damage on Sea Tigers by sinking as many as seven vessels used for arms running.

A new development that is cause for concern to both Indian and Sri Lankan agencies is the emergence of a Chennai based migration network. It helps Lankan Tamilians to go to the US and Canada for a hefty price. The Tamil Madu police are as yet clueless about the kingpin of the racket which at the last count involved some 30 travel agents. Initially, the route preferred for 'migration' was Chennai- Bangkok/Kaula Lumpur – Chicago/ New Jersey.

Security is lax at Chennai airport, according to locals. The Hindu reported that smugglers are making the most of loopholes in the baggage screening system in the international airport. The modus operandi is simple and indeed very ingenious.

Smugglers have been found to use dubious security tags or exchange straps of already-screened bags with an accomplice, who uses the strap to skip screening, airport sources were quoted as saying.

Of late, however, the 'despatches' are taking place from either Bengaluru or Thiruvananthapuram with fake documents made in Chennai with the help of LTTE network.

Arrival of Sri Lankan Tamilians in the meantime continues unabated on the Ramanathapuram coast. A nine member group from Mullaitheevu and Vavuniya arrived at Arichamunai near Dhanushkodi last Saturday. Another group of refugees, also from Vavuniya landed a day earlier on Friday. After a preliminary enquiry, they were sent to the Mandapam refugee camp.

-Asian Tribune -

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