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Jain Commission Interim Report
Growth of Sri Lankan Tamil Militancy in
Chapter I - Phase I (1981-1986)
Sections 4 to 6
4. Meenambakkam airport bomb blast | 5. Continued militant activities of SLT groups in India| 6. Activities of SLT militant groups
Meenambakkam Airport Bomb Blast
8 One of the first serious fallout of the militant activities of Sri Lankan Tamil militants in India was a bomb blast at Meenambakkam Airport at Madras. This incident starkly brought to light the fact that due to militant activities of Sri Lankan Tamil groups, there was a grave danger to the lives of the Indian public themselves though they were, till then, not a target of these groups. As per the affidavit of M. Karunanidhi no. 187/94- JCI,
"There was a bomb blast at the Madras International Airport on the 3rd. August 1984 in which over 30 persons were killed and several others were injured. There was an estimated damage to the Airport of over Rs. 50 lakhs".
This incident has been described in details by Shri K. Mohandas in his affidavit no. 64/92-JCI as follows :-
Para 22 " My worst fears were confirmed when there was a major bomb blast in the Madras Airport on the night of August 2, 1984 which killed 30 persons. There was a disinformation campaign, including planted stories in obliging newspapers to the effect that the blast was the work of Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence agency, with a view to discrediting the Tamil militants at the behest of Sri Lankan Government. The story was put into my ears even officially."
Para 23. :- "But the Crime Branch/ CID sleuths, working overtime under my direction, detected the case within a week. The investigation revealed the involvement of a small group called TEA (Tamil Ealam Army). Involved in the conspiracy were: (1) the TEA Chief "Panegoda" Maheswaran (so called because of his daring escape from the maximum security prison at Panegoda in Sri Lanka) who was a chemical engineering graduate from London University and an expert in explosives (who, according to a section of the press, was reported to have visited Madras prior to the Rajiv Gandhi assassination). (2) Vigneswara Raja, retired Collector of Customs in Sri Lanka; (3) Thambi Raja, a Sri Lankan national; (4) Vijayakumar, and (5) Loganathan, both Indian nationals working for Air Lanka; and (6) Chandrakumar, a police constable attached to the Airport police station. The objective of the conspirators was not to blast Madras airport, but to plant a bomb on the Air Lanka plane leaving Madras for Colombo, with the timing so adjusted as to have the bomb explode in Colombo airport. The plan misfired because of the delay in the take off of the Air Lanka aircraft. Vigneswara Raja, Thambi Raja, Vijayakumar, Loganathan and Chandrakumar were arrested immediately, while Maheswaran absconded."
PARA 24."From a suburban house in Madras a similar timing device was seized apart from 100 kg of gelatine sticks, detonator wires, chemicals like red phosphorous and sodium metal, crystal capacitors, 1 kg of potassium cyanide and currency worth Rs. 2 lakhs (both Indian and Foreign). It was apparent that the time-bomb used at the air- port was manufactured in this house, and this was corroborated by the arrested Sri Lankan nationals."
8.1 From the investigation records of the case, which was investigated by the Crime Branch CID of the Tamil Nadu Police in Cr. No. 53/84 and chargesheeted under sections 120(b), 302, 436,301 r/w sec. 114 IPC and u/Ss 4 and 5 r/w sec. 6 of the Explosives Substances Act and Section 12(b) of Indian Passport Act the following facts have emerged :-
On 2.8.84 at about 2250 hrs. there was a powerful bomb blast at the Meenambakkam airport, which caused the death of 30 persons who were at the airport, injured several and caused extensive damage worth Rs.50 lakhs. A case was registered in this connection by the Crime Branch, CID as Cr.No.53/84 under sec. 120-B,302, 436, 301 r/w. Sec. 144, IPC and under sec. 4 & 5 r/w. 6 of Explosive substances Act and under sec. 12(b) of Indian passport Act. During the investigation conducted in this case, 11 accused including Sri Lankan Tamil militants were found involved. Investigations further disclosed that these accused had hatched a conspiracy with the motive of causing bomb blast at the Colombo airport as a retaliation for the anti-Tamil riots in Sri Lanka. However, their plan of transporting the bombs to Colombo by an Air Lanka flight could not succeed and the bomb, instead, exploded at the Meenambakkam airport.
The main accused of the case was a Sri Lankan Tamil Kadiresan (A-6) who alongwith Thambiraja (A-7) and Sri (A-8) (both Sri Lankan Tamils) alongwith Ramu (A.10) and Dhandapani (A.10) entered into a criminal conspiracy during the period February to July, 1984 to cause bomb blast at Colombo to cause harm to the Sri Lankan Army as a retaliatory act to the excesses caused by the Sri Lankan Army to the Tamil civilians of Northern Sri Lanka. During the course of the conspiracy, the accused purchased explosives in the form of gelatine from Palayamkottai. The gelatine was purchased from National Trading company on three occasions during March to July, 1984. The accused had also purchased detonators from the same shop. The shop was a licensed explosive shop which sold explosives to quarry contractors.
The accused had stored the explosives in a house at Anna Nagar, Madras. Investigations further disclosed that the accused Kadiresan had initially attempted to board an Air Lanka Flight from Madras to Colombo on 31.7.84 alongwith two suit cases filled with explosives and improvised as a time bomb. However, on 31.7.84 at about 6 P.M. when Kadiresan got the suitcases weighed at the checking counter, the weight was found to be in excess by 35 Kgs. Since he did not have money to pay the extra charges, he cancelled the ticket and came back with the two suitcases. On 2.8.84 at about 6 p.m., the accused again went to the Meenambakkam airport, this time to board the Air Lanka flight UL 122 to Colombo. This time the accused Kadiresan got the baggage checked in and paid excess baggage fare. Each of the two boxes filled with explosives weighed 55 kgs.
To misguide the investigators, Kadiresan got his name changed in the passenger manifest from Kadiresan to Jadiresan. The two boxes were sent to the Customs hall for checking. Since Kadiresan did not come forward to get the suitcases checked, the flight left without the accused as well as the boxes. The accused went away from the airport leaving the suitcases abandoned in the Customs hall. Realizing that the time bomb will explode at the airport, the accused made anonymous call at about 2210 hrs. to the Security manager that the bombs were kept in the two boxes. Another call was given by the accused at 2245 hrs. However, while the two boxes were in the process of being removed, they exploded at 2250 hrs.
At the time of laying the chargesheet, A.10 Ramu and A.11 Dhandapani were taken as approvers. A.6 Kadiresan, A.7 Thambiraja, A.8 Sri and A.9 Vigneswararaja were absconding. The case was splitted against them. A.1 Saravanabaran, A.2 Chandrakumar, A.3 Loganathan, A.4 Vijayakumar and A.5 Balasubramaniam were convicted and sentenced.
8.2 As per affidavit No.187/94 of Shri M.Karunanidhi,
"There was a bomb blast at the Madras International Airport on the 3rd of August 1984 in which over 30 persons were killed and several others were injured. There was an estimated damage to the airport of over Rs.50 lakhs. Sri Lankan Tamil militants were arrested in connection with this bomb blast incident. I submit one Thiru Killivalavan who is now a secretary of the Tamilnadu Congress Committee(I) stood as surety for one of the accused in the airport bomb blast case."
8.3 The four absconders could not be arrested even subsequently and continue to remain at large even though some leads are available regarding the whereabouts of two of them. The information furnished on them by an Intelligence Agency indicates as follows :-
(DO Letter No. JS(PN)/S/91 - 3107 dt. 1 June, 1991)
(Register No. 155, Secretary (R))
"i) Vigneshwar Raja, an ex officer of Sri Lankan Customs was accused No. 7 in a case registered in connection with the blast at Meenambakkam Airport on August 2, 1984 in which 30 persons were killed. He subsequently jumped bail and is at present running a one man organisation called the National Council for Protection of Sri Lankan Refugees at 49, Cambridge Road, Morsely, Birmingham, B-13 9 UE. His telephone numbers are 021-444-5393 and 021-443-2009.
ii) Panagoda Maheswaran, alias Thambipillai Maheswaran, alias Kadiresan, was accused no. 1 in the Meenambakkam Airport bomb blast case. He also jumped bail and absconded from Tamil Nadu. He was believed to have returned to U.K. where he was studying earlier. Enquiries indicate that he is not in U.K., at present and is believed to be either in Canada or in India with an assumed name. Panagoda Maheswaran is highly secretive and doesn't share even his telephone number or address with anyone, including his closest friends.
iii) Panagoda Maheswaran was the founder of "Tamil Eelam Army", which had a very negligible following. After the crackdown on it in the wake of the blast at the Meenambakkam Airport, it had thinned down and finally faded away in India."
Continued Militant Activities of Sri Lankan Tamil Groups in India
9 The internecine warfare of Sri Lankan Tamil militants continued to have its repercussions in Tamil Nadu. As per the affidavit of Shri A.X. Alexander:-
Para 14 :- "..... as days rolled by, these groups started issuing pamphlets against one another; they carried tales against one another, they quarreled against one another; and eventually, they did not hesitate even to shoot one another. The following instances will amply bear this out:
On 05.03.1985, when members of PLOTE were moving at Muthupet in a propaganda van, two LTTE cadres made some disparaging remarks against them. In the altercation that ensued, and LTTE cadre opened fire. Cadres of PLOTE overpowered LTTE cadres and kidnapped them to their camp at Periakarambankottai.
ii. On 07.03.1985, at Mahalingapuram, a few LTTE cadres went to Tamil Information Centre at Mahalingapuram and opened fire against two PLOTE cadres.
iii. On 17.03.1985, a PLOTE cadre was kidnapped by LTTE cadres from the PLOTE camp at Thirumangalakottai between Chinnamanur and Cumbum.
iv. On 28.03.1985, seven members of TELA went to Pattukottai from Madurai and one of them fired a shot with his revolver to scare three cadres of TELA who had earlier defected to PLOTE and who were then collecting funds in Pattukottai bus stand.
v. On 02.04.1985, TELO cadres abducted ten members of ERCP at Rameswaram.
vi. On 23.05.1986, some TELO cadres attacked a car in Salem with an iron rod suspecting it to be an LTTE vehicle.
Para 15 :- "....the young Tamil lads in various locations did not, for long, remain peaceful, minding their own business in their settlements. Gradually, they started questioning their own leaders who were ensconced in posh residences in Madras and were enjoying wide publicity, good food and creature comforts with the money that was flowing in from expatriate Sri Lankan Tamils. Thus, among almost all groups, the voice of dissent and consequent pamphleteering and gossip-campaign could be heard. Those who controverted the leadership, were treated harshly. A few examples are cited below:
i. Pamphlets brought out by one S.A.David condemned the PLOTE leader Mukundan and Vasudevan for abduction of Vasanthan, another leader of PLOTE.
ii. Sri Sabaratnam, leader of TELO, was said to have ordered the execution of Priyadas in Sri Lanka which set off a lot of concealed commotion within the ranks, provoking considerable number of members of TELO to desert their organisation in Tamil Nadu and to defect to other groups.
iii. On 09.06.1984, Rajan and few others of TELO resorted to an indefinite fast near Gandhi statue in Madras, protesting against the opprobrious attitude of their leader Sri Sabaratnam.
iv. TELO leaders confined three dissident cadres of their organisation, two of whom later escaped and sought shelter in the room of one Dhayaparan, a Sri Lankan Tamil student in the Madras Medical College hostel.
v. Sri Sabaratnam, TELO leader, sent his boys to intimidate dissidents at Mahalingapuram and Arcot Road in Madras. Sudha, the political head of the breakaway group, organised "Martyrs' Day", independent of TELO. A few boys of Sri Sabaratnam joined Sudha, and TELO planned to settle scores with them in Jaffna.
vi. Prabhakaran and Niranjan, his quondam comrade, fell apart over the former's marriage. Nithiyanandam and Fr.Chinnarasa, one-time supporters of LTTE, quitted the organisation, as they could not continue to countenance the tactics of LTTE leader Prabhakaran.
vii. Raja @ Yoganarajah and Raghavan @ Sivakumar, military leader, weaned themselves away from the LTTE.
viii. Differences of opinion sprouted between Yogan and Bageerathan of TENA due to ill- treatment of cadres. Seventy-five cadres quitted the organisation.
ix. Douglas Devananda broke away from EPRLF and formed "Eelam Peoples' Democratic Party".
x. V.I.S. Jayapalan, a dissident leader of PLOTE, told the press on 14.05.1986 that PLOTE members in the island had held a Congress in the late March and adopted resolutions, accusing Uma Maheswaran @ Mukundan of scuttling unity, misappropriating funds to the tune of 3 million dollars and depositing them in his personal accounts in Swiss banks and indulging in licentious activities.
These internal internecine differences and consequent pamphleteering, feuds, tension and violence that erupted in the places of their settlements were resented by the people of Tamil Nadu. Many elders in the State and those expatriate Tamils who were financing the movements were worried that the youths were missing the wood for trees and deviating from their struggle for independence and repeatedly exhorted them to pull together and fight against their common enemy, and not to fritter away their energy by engaging themselves in inter- group and intra-group rivalry and enmity.
Para 16 :- " These groups which indulged in violence within their own ranks and against rival groups, subsequently crossed swords even with those populace of Tamil Nadu, who gave them shelter, food and abundant sympathy. A few examples are cited below:-
i. On 23.12.1985, a jeep belonging to TEA dashed against girl students of Kasturba Gandhi Kanya Gurukulam at Vedaranyam while they were proceeding from their school towards a temple. The students sustained simple injuries. A case was registered. The driver was arrested. People were agitated. TEA, EPRLF and PLOTE representatives attended a condolence meeting and expressed grief. But the public were sore that the top leader of the TEA did not attend the meeting. A condemnatory procession was taken out and the TEA cadres opened fire in the air to scare away the processionists.
ii. On 23.04.1986, three LTTE cadres, who got down from a private bus at Madurai, quarreled with a porter and sprayed aerosol on his face, making him swoon."
10 While the situation in Tamil Nadu went from bad to worse owing to the continuing militant activity during this period, the refugees continue to pour in as conditions in Sri Lanka remained far from conducive. The "Annual Report" of the Ministry of External Affairs for the year 1985-86 states as follows :-
"The unresolved ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka continues to be a source of great concern to the Government of India. The escalation of violence and large scale killings of Tamil civilians caused great concern throughout India. The deteriorating situation in the Northern and Eastern provinces in Sri Lanka had direct repercussions on India, most notably through the massive influx of refugees to our shores. The total number of refugees from Sri Lanka in India now stands at over 124,000. Their presence poses socio-economic burdens and has added to the strength of Indian sentiments in regard to the situation in Sri Lanka.
Aggressive action by Sri Lanka Naval Forces in Palk Straits, including attacks on our fishing vessels resulting in the death of some fisherman, led to increased tension in our bilateral relations. Strong protests had to be lodged with the Sri Lankan Government in regard to these actions. A Sri Lanka naval vessels was apprehended on 11 January 1985 when it was found well within Indian waters, after it had attacked our fishermen. The vessels, along with its crew, was later handed over to the Sri Lanka authorities. Some Indian fishermen who had been under detention since October 1984, were released by Sri Lanka."
This shows that while the refugee population in India of Sri Lankan Tamils continued to swell keeping alive in India, particularly in Tamil Nadu, the sympathy factor for the suffering minorities of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Tamil militants based in India continued to indulge in criminal activities.
KIDNAPPING OF THE ALLENS
11 A case of kidnapping of an American couple Allens in Sri Lanka had its own fallout in Tamil Nadu. Rohana Gunaratne has described the incident in his book entitled "Indian Intervention in Sri Lanka" as follows :-
Page 146 :- "The Allens Episode"
"Contrary to the opinion of the public as well as that of the Sri Lankan intelligence community, the EPRLF was not all that pro- Indian even during the time they received considerable Indian military and financial support. This was clearly demonstrated when an American couple, the Allens, was kidnapped about the same time as George Bush, a former CIA director and the then Vice President of the United States, was visiting New Delhi. Stanley and Mary Allen, working on a development project in Jaffna, were abducted on May 10, 1984 by militants belonging to the EPRLF. They were branded as CIA agents by the EPRLF. In order to release the Allens the EPRLF demanded Rs. 50 million in gold, to be paid to the Tamil Nadu Government, and the release of 20 EPRLF cadres. The actual plan of the EPRLF, which has been kept a secret by their leadership to date, was to seek the release of only one of their Central Committee members who was mentioned in that list of 20 cadres. The EPRLF leaders did not wish to let Colombo know who their key man was, hence the demand was made for the release of 20, almost all held under the P.T.A.
After Colombo's attempts to secure the release of the Allens, New Delhi repeatedly appealed to the EPRLF leadership, also without any success. Even though Sri Lankan intelligence reported that `The Tamil Nadu Police arrested the EPRLF leadership and the Allens were released five days after,' what really happened has been kept a secret. This is what really happened: IB and RAW had threatened Padmanabha, who was then in Madras, that if the Allens were not released, he would be deported. Under such intimidation, Padmanabha agreed to release the Allens. Later, perhaps under pressure from US, Indira Gandhi wrote a personal letter to Padmanabha urging him to release Allens as this would pose a problem to India and assured India's continued support for their struggle. The Allens were promptly released."
11.1 The first hand account of what transpired at Madras which ultimately led to the release of the Allens in Jaffna has been provided by Shri K. Mohandas, former Director General of Police (Intelligence) of Tamil Nadu in his deposition before the Commission on 2nd. January, 1996. His account is as follows :-
"One night I was sleeping in my house. I got a call from the US Consul General from Madras at 11 PM. He told me frantically that Mr. and Mrs. Allen, who are working as water resources experts in Jaffna had been kidnapped by militants. He wanted my assistance to rescue them. I told him how could I help him for the incident that had happened in Jaffna. He pressed that the President of the United States of America was interested. The Consul General said that a large amount of gold and six or so militants in Sri Lankan custody must be released. This must be done within 48 hours or else Mr. and Mrs. Allens would be shot dead.
Then something struck me and I asked the Consul General to find out the names of the militants whom they were asking for release. Then as soon as I placed the phone down, I got a call from G. Parthasarthy from Delhi repeating the same request. I rang up MGR and took his permission to take up this matter. I immediately proceeded to office calling all my principal officers to come to the office. As soon as I reached the office, I got a call from the US Consul General revealing the names of the militants whose release the kidnappers had wanted. My officers immediately said that they were from the EPRLF.
So the hunt began to find out whether there are any important EPRLF fellows in Madras. After about 24 hours, we got 3 or 4 of them sleeping in a house. There were also two women who were released. The catch was very important.
Among the people we caught were one Mr. Padmanabha who was later massacred by LTTE. Then, two, Varadharaja Perumal, the subsequent Chief Minister installed by the IPKF in East Sri Lanka, and three, General Douglas, self styled, who was the chief of militant wing of the EPRLF.
I asked my officers to take the three to a five star hotel. It was at about 2.00 A.M. with a lot of security, the officers started questioning. But upto 6.00 A.M. they did not budge. So I went there with two commandos with loaded revolver. I made the three fellows stand. I placed my revolver on the table and made the commandos aim with their AK-47 at them. There was silence for two minutes.
I looked at them straight and said:`It is your people who have made ransom demand on Mr. Allens. I will not allow you to open your mouth. Whatever happens to Allens will happen to you three right in this room.' After five minutes, General Douglas said that he would speak to his people in Jaffna to release Allens. I said 'Mind you, nothing in return; no gold; no release of their comrades.'
General Douglas contacted Jaffna and got the release of Mr. and Mrs. Allens and, within four hours, Mr. and Mrs. Allens were released at the residence of Bishop of Jaffna with their eyes blindfolded. There were kidnappings and counter kidnappings within the Sri Lankan militant groups in Tamil Nadu."
INTERNECINE WARFARE BETWEEN LTTE AND PLOTE
12 The Pondy Bazaar incident of 1982 was repeated in March 1985, and at this time, it appears, that the Police did not even register a criminal case. This incident has been described in the book "Tigers of Lanka" by M.R. Narayanswamy as follows :-
"On March 7th, 1985, a group of Tigers barged into the office of the Tamil Information Centre in Madras and fired at some PLOTE members there injuring two. One of them was Kannan who had been with Uma during the 1982 Madras shootout with Prabhakaran. The PLOTE told the Police that Kannan had been taken to Besant Nagar in Madras where the LTTE had an office. Although Tamil Nadu Police rescued him, it wanted Uma to register a case of kidnapping against unknown persons. Uma refused and insisted that he would name the LTTE in his complaint. This led to violent arguments with the senior police officials."
ACTIVITIES OF EPRLF MILITANTS
13 During 1985, the EPRLF was also engaged actively in arms smuggling. As per the affidavit no. 170/93-JCI of T.V. Venkataraman, former Chief Secretary, Tamil Nadu, (page 46, item no. 1),:-
"Mandapam PS cr. no. 58/85 dt. 26.03.85 u/s 5(3)(b) of the Indian Explosives Act and Sec. 14. of the Indian Arms Act and Sec. 6 (a) Indian Passports Act
Facts:- On 26.03.85 at 1630 hrs. one Albert s/o Chandram and 11 Sri Lankan militants of EPRLF were found entering the high seas of Rameswaram and the Coast Guard apprehended them. They took Albert and Sivanandam in their boat and directed others to follow them at Mandapam, but the boat with 10 occupants disappeared on closing inland. Two boxes of dynamite detonators, machine gun etc. were seized from the militants.
SEIZURE OF ARMS AT MADRAS HARBOUR
14 In 1985, seizure of a large cache of arms at the Madras Harbour by the Indian Customs revealed that Tamil militant groups were involved in organised arms smuggling at a large scale. This incident has been described by M.R. Narayanaswamy in his book "Tigers of Lanka" page 180 as follows :-
"On April 2nd., 1985 Customs officials seized a container as big as a train car that was unloaded from a ship at the Madras Port. When they examined it they were in for a rude shock. It contained at least 1,400 rifles of 1945 model, 300 sten guns, 5 wireless sets of Japanese origin and an electronic radio set with an amplifier. The Captain and the crew had no idea about the contents in the container, which had been marked "used newspapers". The arms bought for 3 lakhs US Dollars from a Taiwanese Arms agent were meant for the PLOT."
14.1 As per Rohana Gunaratna, in his book entitled "Indian Intervention in Sri Lanka, page 155 :-
"The Indians controlled the growth of PLOTE by allowing the Indian Customs to seize four containers of military hardware documented as carrying waste paper which had arrived in Madras from Singapore on April 2nd., 1985."
INTERNECINE WARFARE - BLAST AT LTTE LEADER ANTON BALASINGHAM'S HOUSE
15 Another incident occurred on 23th December, 1985, indicating the ongoing internecine warfare between the rival Sri Lankan militant groups operating in Tamil Nadu. As per the affidavit no. 187/94-JCI of M. Karunanidhi, (page 05, para 05) :-
"Four militant groups namely Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE). Eelam People Revolutionary Liberation Front(EPRLF) & Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Tamil (ERO) joined together to form a front called EELAM NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT (ENLF) during November 1985. In December, 1985 the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and TELO developed mis- understanding among themselves and fought each other both in Sri Lanka and India. There was a bomb explosion at the residence of Thiru. Balasingam the Spokesmen of LTTE, at Madras. The Police suspected the involvement of TELO Group. Photographs about the damages caused to the house and the news item appeared in all the newspapers dated 24.12.1985. "
15.1 M.R. Narayanaswamy, in his book entitled "Tigers of Lanka" narrates the incident as follows :-
(page 168) " Before the year came to a close, Balasingham, now back in Madras, once again became the centre of attention once a mysterious blast rocked his house at Besant Nagar, a plush Madras suburb. On December 23rd., 1985, shortly before dawn, a bomb with a timer device went off in the open terrace above the bedroom where Balasingham's nephew was sleeping...Balasingham and his Australian wife Adele were in another room and escaped with injuries..Balasingham said he suspected Sri Lankan agents. The TULF and PLOTE blamed MOSSAD."
16 While the Sri Lankan Tamil militancy continued to have its repercussions in Tamil Nadu, the Government of India went ahead in its ongoing efforts to use its good offices to bring about a peaceful solution to this problem. However, the task was not easy and various efforts of Government of India met with only limited success. The Annual Report of the Ministry of External Affairs for the period 1985 - 86 has summarised these efforts. Relevant extracts are reproduced below :-
"Negotiations between the Sri Lanka Government and the Sri Lanka Tamil groups were arranged with India's assistance and while these have not yet brought about a solution, efforts at bringing the two sides closer through a process of direct and indirect negotiations are continuing.
The Sri Lankan Minister for National Security paid a short visit to India in February 1985 and held talks with the Prime Minister and other leaders. The Foreign Secretary visited Sri Lanka in March 1985 in pursuance of the Prime Minister's initiative to improve relations with neighboring countries. During the meeting with President Jayewardene and other leaders, the basis for a renewed dialogue for resolving the Tamil problem was discussed further. The Foreign Secretary visited Sri Lanka again in the last week of May to prepare the ground for a two- day visit to India by President Jayewardene. President Jayewardene had detailed discussions with the Prime Minister during his stay in New Delhi from 1-3 June 1985.
It was agreed that immediate steps should be taken to defuse the situation and create a proper climate for a political settlement. The Government of Sri Lanka announced cessation of hostilities for three months from 18 June, 1985. The climate was thus created for talks which were held in Thimpu, with the assistance of the royal Government of Bhutan, in July and august 1985. The Thimpu talks broke down in mid-August because of renewed violence, and the continuing gap between what the Sri Lanka Government was prepared to offer by way of a political solution, and the minimum demand of the Tamils. However, the negotiations were continued indirectly through Indian efforts....
Dr.H.W.Jayewardene, who led the Sri Lankan delegation to the Thimpu talks was invited to stop over in Delhi, along with other Sri Lanka officials, at the end of August, 1985. Following discussions with the Foreign Secretary, the Sri Lanka side prepared a fresh set of proposals in a Working Paper, which, it was agreed, could serve as a basis for further negotiations. Representatives of the Tamil militant groups and the Tamil United Liberation Front later met in Delhi to discuss the Working Paper and matters relating to the maintenance of the Ceasefire, beyond the 3 month period. The Ceasefire was further extended, and a Monitoring Committee was set up by the Sri Lanka Government to monitor the working of the ceasefire. The proposals put forward by the government of Sri Lanka were not, however, found acceptable to the Tamil groups. In response to the Prime Minister's suggestion, the TULF later put forward a set of proposals in December 1985. These proposals were conveyed to the Government of Sri Lanka. The Prime Minister met President Jayewardene at the SAARC Summit in Dhaka in December, 1985. At these meetings, the Prime Minister conveyed India's concern over the situation in Sri Lanka however, reiterated India's continued willingness to assist in the quest for a peaceful solution to the crisis.
The Government of India have also expressed concern over reports that suggest that Sri Lanka is attempting a military solution to the crisis. The rapid increase in the Sri Lanka defence spending and reports of an escalation in the violence towards the end of the year have been viewed with disquiet. The Government of India are seriously concerned at the activities of the foreign security and intelligence organisations in Sri Lanka. There are reports of Israeli intelligence organisations and British Security experts being involved with the Sri Lanka, following President Jayewardene's visit to Pakistan in April 1985 and the visit of the President of Pakistan to Sri Lanka in December, 1985 is being viewed with some concern.
While the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka remained unresolved, an important positive development in the bilateral relationship between the two countries was the agreement in January, 1986 to end once and all the long-standing problem of statelessness of persons of Indian origin in Sri Lanka. The Government of India agreed to grant citizenship and accept the repatriation of the balance of 94,000 remaining applicants for Indian citizenship together with their natural increase. The Sri Lanka Government for its part undertook to accord citizenship to the remaining stateless persons whose applications were pending together with their natural increase. It is hoped that this process will be completed expeditiously."
TALKS AT THIMPU - DEPORTATION OF CHANDRAHASAN AND OTHERS
17 Thimpu Talks were held at the Capital of Bhutan in July and August, 1985. During these talks, another opportunity was made use of by bringing the representatives of the Sri Lankan Government and various Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups to the negotiating table; however, these efforts too, could not succeed. Details of the talks have been dealt with in another Chapter.
K. Srinivasan, Foreign Secretary of India, in his affidavit no. affidavit No 202/94-JCI has spoken about the Talks as follows :-
Page 2 of Annexure.
Para 6: "The next phase of India's efforts to find a solution to the ethnic issue commenced soon after the election of Shri Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister. With Shri Romesh Bhandari, the then Foreign Secretary acting as a mediator, the Tamil parties met representatives of SLG at Thimpu in July- August 1985. The proposals submitted by SLG at Thimpu talks did not address the basic principles outlined by the Tamil groups. This coupled with ceasefire violations by the Sri Lankan Army and the killing of Tamil civilians in Vavuniya led to the Tamil groups walking out of the talks."
18 The Thimpu talks have also been spoken about by Shri M. Karunanidhi in his affidavit no. 187/94-JCI as follows :-
"Various Tamil militant groups were recognised by the government of India and were invited for several rounds of talks by the authorities of the Indian Government. There was peace talk held in Thimpu, Bhutan in 1985 in the presence of Thiru. Romesh Bandari the Secretary for external Affairs, Government of India. Various militant groups including the LTTE represented by Thiru V.Prabhakaran participated in the Thimpu talks. After the meetings the leaders met the then Prime Minister Thiru Rajiv Gandhi on 17.08.1985. This was published in the Hindu dated 18.08.1985."
19 Consequent to the failure of Thimpu talks, three Sri Lankan Tamil leaders were ordered to be deported from India as their role was perceived to be obstructionist with regard to the efforts being made by the Government to find a solution. One of the leaders ordered to be deported was S.C. Chandrahasan. According to him (deposition dated August 22, 1996) :-
" Prabhakaran was in India at the time of the two rounds of Thimpu talks but he was not a member of the Delegation. All the Tamil militant groups and the TULF were party to the Thimpu talks. I did not go to Thimpu. I had my own skepticism about the talks. So I was not associated with it. TULF was represented by Shri Amirthalingam and Shri Sivasithamparam. Three persons, myself, Balasingham and Satyendra, lawyer representing TELO were ordered to be deported by the Indian Govt. after the Thimpu talks. Satyendra was on his way out. So he left before deportation. Balasingham and myself were taken to U.K. by Air India Flight. Balasingham got down at UK. He was having a UK Passport. I was taken to USA. When I was asked by the Emigration authorities as to why I had come, I said I have not come on my own will. Then they ordered that the flight might take me back to India."
19.1 During this period, the hostile activities of Pro- LTTE Tamil chauvinist groups were equally a cause for concern. The Intelligence Bureau reports highlighted several instances of the use of explosive devices by pro-LTTE Tamil chauvinists in Tamil Nadu. On January 29, 1986 an explosion carried out by Tamil Nadu Liberation Army, damaged one of the parapet walls of a bridge on Thanjavur Tiruvaiyur road. This incident assumes importance due to the fact that the Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi, during his visit to Tamil Nadu, was scheduled to proceed by that route the very next day. (Annexure T-8)
MASS MURDER BY PLOTE NEAR RAMESWARAM
20 In a particularly brutal incident 9 Tamils were shot dead in cold blood near Rameswaram by PLOTE. The mention of this gruesome incident has been made by T.V. Venkataraman, former Chief Secretary, Tamil Nadu, in his affidavit no. 152/93-JCI, he states :-
(page 47, item no. 4) "Rameswaram PS 129/86 u/s 307, 302 IPC r/w 396 IPC dt. 23.03.86.
FACTS :- On 23.03.86 at about 1800 hrs., one Thangavelu s/o Velliah Thevar of Kancheerankulam now at Rameswaram, alongwith 8 others were resting in the sixth sand dune, since the plastic boat in which they had travelled from Sri Lanka towards Dhanuskodi developed some trouble. At that time 20 PLOTE Sri Lankan Tamil activists came there in a plastic boat, dropped Victor, Bhaskaran and Chellakili and left towards Sri Lanka. Bhaskaran and Chellakili enquired Thangavelu and others, lined them up and shot the 9 members with sten guns and rifle. They left for Sri Lanka, taking the contrabands of Thangavelu and others which included 15 VCRs and 150 video cassettes. The said Thangavelu who did not die due to the gunshots came to Rameswaram P.S. and lodged the complaint.
SMUGGLING BY LTTE
21 Among several instances of smuggling, the following two instances of 1986 have been narrated by officers who have filed affidavits before the Commission :-
21.1 In his affidavit no. 081/92-JCI, R.D. Negi, Under Secretary, Department of Revenue, has stated as follows :- (Page 07,para 04)
"On 20.04.86 the Inspector of Central Excise, Customs Mobile Party, Thindivanam, were conducting road patrol at Choonampedu Cross on GST Road, intercepted one van TDA 6778 which was found to contain smuggled goods such as TV, VCR, Telecommunication equipments, revolver, pistol, ammunition and other consumer goods, valued at Rs. 14,24,000/-. Five persons who were occupying the van in their voluntary statements admitted that they were members of LTTE and that the smuggled goods were being transported from Madurai to Madras."
21.2 Another case of smuggling during this period has been narrated as follows in the affidavit of A.X. Alexander, Inspector-General of Police, (Intelligence), CID, Tamil Nadu :- (page 11, para 18)
"On 23.04.86, a van was intercepted at Dindivanam and 3 9mm. pistols, 1000 cartridges, 40 walkie talkie sets, telecommunication equipment etc. worth Rs. 14,24,310/- were seized. 5 LTTE cadres were arrested."
21.3 The situation in Tamil Nadu, as it prevailed at that time, has been comprehensively narrated by Shri K. Mohandas, the then Director General of Police (Intelligence) in a letter written to the then Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, Shri A.K. Antony on 8th February, 1986. The correspondence is reproduced below :-
TOP SECRET D.O.
Dear Thiru Antony,
I enclose a note on the activities of Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups in Tamil Nadu.
2. Particulars regarding the number and strength of camps run by them and the weapons reported to be in their possession are given in the Annexure.
3. Most of the groups are now reported to be facing paucity of funds. It is likely that, ere long, they may resort to bank and temple robberies here, as is their wont in Sri Lanka. In this context the latest report of an armed robbery in Bangalore involving Sri Lankan Tamils is of significance.
Encl : One
Thiru T.V. Antony,IAS
Chief Secretary to Government
Fort St. George,
Activities of Sri Lankan Tamil Militant Groups
"On 30.12.1985, cries of 'Expel Sri Lankan Tamils' reverberated across Vedaranyam when a 1200 - strong procession was taken out protesting against a road accident in which 16 schoolgirls were injured as a jeep driven by a Sri Lankan Tamil went berserk. The processionists stoned a lodge where some Sri Lankan Tamils were living and later the Police Station also faced the wrath of the mob when the Sri Lankans were rescued and taken to the Station. The climax was reached when members of a militant group Tamil Eelam Army (TEA) opened fire to drive away a crowd that mobbed the building where they were living."
2. "This sequence of events symbolises a change in the attitude of the public to the Sri Lankan Tamils who have taken shelter in Tamil Nadu. The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has driven hordes of Tamils into India especially after the carnage in July 1983. Apart from the thousands of refugees housed in the camps set up by the Government, a substantial proportion of these migrant Sri Lankan Tamils have settled in different parts of Tamil Nadu on their own. These include leaders and members of the various liberation groups.
By and large, the local population in Tamil Nadu has been sympathetic to the cause of these Sri Lankan Tamils who have suffered untold misery in their island. However, time and again some unscrupulous Sri Lankan Tamils have got themselves embroiled in violence or illegal activities in the form of kidnap, assault, torture, blackmail, smuggling, murder or illicit use of fire-arms and explosives. While these incidents mostly stem from inter-group rivalry or intra-group conflict, their impact has often spilled over outside the Sri Lankan Tamil Community. It is this scenario which has created an impression that the hospitality of the local public is being abused by elements who consider themselves to be beyond the pale of the law."
3. "Inter group rivalry has been a chief reason for the use of violence by the Sri Lankan Tamils. While four major groups have patched up their differences and come together to form the Eelam National Liberation Front |ENLF|, there are still a number of other groups operating independently and often at cross purposes to each other. Even within ENLF, all is not well as illustrated by the shooting down of a leader of EPRLF |Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front| by LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) at Vavuniya in Sri Lanka in the middle of November 1985. This kind of group conflict in Sri Lanka does not fail to have its echo in Tamil Nadu."
4. "Inter-group enmity is best exemplified by the relationship between the LTTE and the Peoples Liberation Organisation for Tamil Eelam (PLOT). Their top leaders PRABHAKARAN and MUKUNDAN hit the headlines when they were involved in a shoot-out at Pondy Bazaar in Madras in 1982. They continue to remain sworn enemies and this constitutes the reason why a major organisation like PLOT should stay outside ENLF and take an independent line even during the negotiations with the Sri Lankan Government. the members of the two groups have been involved in a number of other confrontations.
(i) On 25.2.85, one GUNAM (LTTE) was abducted by PLOT members from a bus near Orthanadu and later set free near Vedaranyam (Orthanadu PS Cr. No. 121/85 u/s 341, 323, 365 IPC)
(ii) On 5.3.85, Pottu and Thavarajah (LTTE) were abducted by PLOT at Muthupettai and in the melee, Pottu fired a round from a pistol. The two LTTE members were later got released by Police (Orthanadu PS Cr. no. 89/85 u/s 353 IPC r/w 25 Indian Arms Act).
(iii) In apparent retaliation, SHANKAR and 4 others of LTTE stormed into the Tamil Information Centre building at Madras on 7.3.85 and took away JOTHEESWARAN @ KANNAN and RAVI of PLOT after using firearms (CB CID Cr. No. 3/85 u/s 147, 148, 324, 506(II) IPC r/w 25 Indian Arms Act)."
5. "Similar incidents have been reported among other groups. For instance, on 26.7.85 one RAJAJI (TEA) was abducted by TELO (Guindy PS Cr. No. 596/85 u/s 363 IPC). In May 1985, PLOT members were alleged to have raided the ERCP (Eelam Revolutionary Communist Party) settlement at Karayampatty taking away tents, cooking utensils, uniforms etc. The two groups came to a clash on 31.5.85 at Samayanallur leading to the arrest of 5 persons and recovery of air-guns and shotguns (Samayanallur PS Cr. Nos. 301 and 302/85 u/s 307 IPC)."
6. "Power struggle within the groups has often resulted in members turning against one another. Personality cult being a dominant theme, the youthful leaders strive to gather around them a band of people personally loyal to them. Dissidence is ruthlessly put down and `traitors' are shown no mercy. Several instances of abduction of dissidents have come to Police notice. In September '84, two important TELO dissidents SUDHA and RAMESH were kept under house arrest at Saligramam by the TELO leadership. About 35 sympathisers went on a hunger strike in front of the Gandhi statue at Marina demanding their release. On the intervention of the Police, the two were set free. However, within 3 months, RAMESH was again kidnapped and his whereabouts are not known."
7. "The vertical split of Tamil Eelam Liberation Army (TELA) occasioned a bitter fight. The group split into two factions, one led by RAJAN and the other by KANTHAN. Towards the end of March 1985, one LION of TELA-RAJAN group fired a round from a revolver in a confrontation with SUSILAN and two others who had left TELA to throw in their lot with PLOT (Pattukottai PS. Cr. no. 509/85 u/s 147, 148, 341, 365 r/w 25 Indian Arms Act)."
8. "In Eelam Revolutionary Organisation (EROS) one DAVASEELAN @ MONTFORD who deserted a camp was taken captive by 3 members and kept under wrongful confinement in June 1985 until Mandapam Police intervened."
9. "S.A. DAVID of `Gandhiyam' movement who had left PLOT quite some time back was abducted on 3.8.85 at Anna Nagar but later let off when it was realised that he was not the wanted person. The real target VASANTHAN, another defector from PLOT, is missing since 18.9.85 and it has been alleged that PLOT had abducted him. (Thirumangalam PS Cr. no. 384/85 u/s 365 IPC). On 30.5.85, the same group had abducted one Anandamurugan and one Kumareswara Raja and released them later. (Thiruvanmiyur PS Cr. No. 758/85 u/s 353 IPC)."
10. "Innocent people unconnected with Sri Lankan affairs have at times fallen victims to similar high handed activities. In Pannavayal, one DAKSHINAMOORTHY sustained a bullet injury and died on 1.5.84 when PLOT members opened fire while pursuing two defectors who had been taking shelter in his rice-mill (Pattukottai PS Cr. No. 714/84 u/s 147, 148, 302 IPC r/w 25 Indian Arms Act). One PUSHPADEVI d/o APPADURAI, an officer in the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner's office, was allegedly kidnapped by PLOT (Chetput PS Cr. No. 1537/84 u/s 365 IPC). The victim girl later surfaced in a PLOT camp and announced that she had joined the militant organisation. An altercation between a cycle-shop owner and a member of TEA led to a riotous situation at Vedaranyam on 17.6.85 and was brought under control only on the intervention of Police and Revenue authorities (Vedaranyam PS. Cr. No. u/s 147, 427, 448, 506(II) IPC). On 18.12.85, SURESH and 11 others of PLOT went to the refugees camp at Alanganallur and took one VASANTHAKUMAR, assaulted him and detained him in their custody for 2 days (Samayanallur PS Cr. No. 614/85 u/s 147, 342, 323, 324 IPC)."
11. "A daring incident of abduction and blackmail was reported from Madurai on 9.11.85 involving one NARESH, son of a Government coroner in Sri Lanka. This youth was abducted by some members of the TELA (RAJAN) group and kept captive near Sirumalai. Not content with taking away 25 sovereigns of gold jewellery in his possession, his abductors also sent ransom notes demanding one lakh rupees for his release. Police swooped on their camp and secured his release and also arrested 17 persons."
12. "Use of explosives and guns is becoming increasingly common among Sri Lankan Tamils. Many of the members brazenly carry lethal weapons or hand-grenades ostensibly for self protection and they do not hesitate to put them to use, as seen from a number of the incidents enumerated above. Accidental explosion of bombs resulting in loss of lives have been reported at regular intervals. A sample study of such instances where explosives and fire-arms have come to public knowledge will include the following :
(i) One UDAYAKUMAR of ECRP sustained injuries when a hand grenade exploded at Saranthangi (Alanganallur PS Cr. No. 29/85 u/s 337 IPC)
(ii) An Indian Coast Guard Ship intercepted a boat carrying EPRLF cadres on 26.3.85 and seized a sub-machine gun, 4 mortars, 2 boxes of dynamite, etc.
(iii) Two innocent persons lost their lives at Madurai bus stand on 21.5.85 when a hand grenade exploded. A handbag containing the explosive had been deposited in a petty shop apparently by a TELA member.
(iv) MOHAN and SUREN of NLFT were arrested on 30.3.85 for possession of two hand grenades (Chitlapakkam PS Cr. No. 145/85 u/s 7(A) of Indian Explosives Act.)
(v) On 14.8.85 two members of NLFT were found transporting gelatine sticks and empty hand grenade shells in a bus to Vedaranyam (Vikramandi PS Cr. No. 303/85)
(vi) Two members of TEA were arrested on 23.3.85 for possession of country made revolver (Pollachi Town PS Cr. No. 138/85 u/s 25 Indian Arms Act).
(vii) An accidental firing of a revolver at Tamil International, Madras, resulted in injuries to one ANANDAMURUGAN on 21.5.85.
(viii) A TELA member JEYA was fatally injured on 23.6.85 at Kuzhipirai when he was handling a grenade (Pattukottai PS Cr. No. 518/85 u/s 174 Cr.Pc.).
(ix) An explosion on 8.10.85 at a house in Anna Nagar, Madurai, resulted in the death of a TEA activist KAMAL (Karuppa urani PS Cr. No. 532/85 u/s 286, 304(A) IPC).
(x) On 9.12.85 DEVAN and BALAN (PLOT) sustained injuries at Kuzhipirai when a grenade exploded (Panayapatti PS Cr. No. 144/85 u/s 286 IPC).
(xi) On 23.12.85 a massive explosion left a gaping hole on the terrace of the residence of BALASINGHAM (LTTE) at Besant Nagar, Madras. The violent shockwave of the explosion shattered glass panes in neighbouring houses.
(xii) A bomb blast at Meenambakkam Airport in August 1984 left 30 people dead and 37 others injured. THAMBAPILLAI MAHESWARAN of TEA group was responsible for the bomb in this case.
These incidents have shaken the confidence of the public to such an extent that they dread having Sri Lankans as neighbours fearing a possible explosion at any time."
13. "Smuggling of contraband is another area in which Sri Lankan Tamils are gaining notoriety.
(i) On 27.2.84, BOBBY and three other TELO members were found in possession of 11.774 Kgs of gold suspected to have been looted from the Peoples Bank at Jaffna.
(ii) On 18.5.85, 19 Sri Lankan Tamil youths were arrested by Customs officers near Madurai when they were transporting 21.22 Kgs. of gold from Nagercoil to Madurai.
(iii) The Customs authorities are reported to have detected a number of smuggling cases at Vedaranyam involving Sri Lankans. There was even an instance in which Sri Lankan Tamils involved in smuggling opened fire at a Customs party on 24.10.85 near Theevukkadu (Vedaranyam)."
14. "Sri Lankans have also come to adverse notice frequently for offences involving drug trafficking. They are concerned in at least .. cases of opium or heroin transport detected by Narcotics Intelligence Bureau during this year. Specific mention may be made of NIB Cr. No. 7/85 u/s 9(a) of Opium Act in which GNANAM and DURAISINGHAM, both of Valvettithurai, Sri Lanka, were arrested on 23.1.85 for possession of 46.200 Kgs. of opium worth Rs. 92,400/-. They were convicted to 6 months R.I. In another case in NIB Cr. No. 98/85 u/s 21 of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985, one RAJALINGAM of Paruthithurai of Jaffna was arrested on 18.12.85 at Saidapet for possession of heroin worth Rs. 64,000/-. It is also learnt that Customs authorities have recently arrested two Sri Lankans DURAIKUTTY and JEEVAGAN in Madras and seized 5 Kgs of heroin. There are also reports that Sri Lankan Tamils who have fled to many Western countries have been actively involved in drug trafficking. These facts are a matter of serious concern as drug abuse in schools and colleges in Tamil Nadu is assuming serious proportions."
15. "In the light of reports that AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome ) has been detected in Sri Lanka, there are fears that unrestricted flow of people from Sri Lanka may introduce this dreaded disease into Tamil Nadu too."
16. "The common thread running through the episodes narrated above is use of fire-arms and explosives and resort to violence and smuggling which are becoming more and more prominent with passage of time and turning public opinion against the Sri Lankan Tamils."