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Growth of Sri Lankan Tamil Militancy in
Chapter I - Phase II (1987-1988)
Sections 11 to 15
11. Growth of SLT militancy in Tamil Nadu | 12. Developments in Sri Lanka pertaining to ethnic strife--January 1987-May 1987 | 13. Airdropping of essential commodities by IAF--June 1997 | 14. The attitude of the political parties and climate in Tamil Nadu after Indo-Sri Lanka accord and induction of IPKF | 15. Support/attitude of Indian political leaders, Govt of Tamil Nadu towards the LTTE
Sri Lankan Militancy in Tamil Nadu
Phase II (1987-1988)
28 By the end of the year 1986, it had become clear that inspite of sustained and strenuous efforts of India's diplomatic initiative spread over four years, the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka was nowhere near a satisfactory solution. The Sri Lankan Government was not ready to make requisite concessions for their Tamil minority while the Sri Lankan Tamil militants, particularly the LTTE, the predominant Tamil militant group, were simply not willing to reach any agreement short of Eelam. At the same time, both sides continued to urge India to speak on their behalf to the other side.
28.1 An indication of the situation prevailing as far as Indo Sri Lankan diplomacy was concerned is seen from The Annual Report of the Ministry of External Affairs for the period 1986-87, which, inter alia, enumerated the diplomatic efforts made by the Government of India on this front after the abortive attempts at arriving at a solution during the SAARC Summit held in November, 1986, at Bangalore. Further efforts to overcome this hurdle were made during visits by the then Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri K.Natwar Singh and the then Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri P.Chidambaram, to Colombo in November and December 1986. As a result of discussions between the two Ministers of State and President Jayewardene in Colombo during December, 1986, new proposals emerged for resolving the issue of the status of the Eastern province, especially the question of linkage. Immediately, after the Minister's return from Colombo, however, the Sri Lankan authorities sent word that they would not find it possible to proceed with the proposals agreed to by them in Colombo. Details of this proposals have been dealt with in the Chapter relating to India's Sri Lankan Policy.
28.2 Shri K. Srinivasan, former External Affairs Secretary, in his affidavit filed before the Commission (Affidavit No. 202/94) has also referred to these efforts. He stated :-
(Para 8 of Annexure to Affidavit no. 202/94-JCI)
"....visit to Sri Lanka ... by Ministers Shri Natwar Singh and Shri P. Chidambaram to Sri Lanka in December. At discussions during this visit, a set of proposals, later dubbed as December 19 proposals, were worked out, in regard to the unit of devolution. The proposals provided that Eastern province excluding Amparai electorate would constitute the new Eastern province and institutional linkages between the Northern and Eastern provinces would be further refined in order to make it more acceptable to the parties concerned. Subsequently, Sri Lankan Government resiled from these proposals."
28.3 The Annual Report of the M.E.A. also brings out the fact that the activities of various Tamil militant groups in Jaffna had become increasingly autonomous in nature and, in the absence of any concrete measures being initiated by the Government of Sri Lanka, these militants had started a process of self governance. The Tamil groups begun to implement their own parallel administrative measures in Jaffna area and the Sri Lankan Government, in the face of such defiance, resorted to strong arm tactics by cutting off the Jaffna peninsula from the rest of the world in the form of enforcing an economic blockade of the area. Simultaneously, military operations were launched in the Jaffna peninsula by the Sri Lankan Army which led to serious hardship to the Tamil minorities inhabiting the peninsula.
It appears that, during January, 1987, some more attempts were made by the Government of India to use their good offices in helping to arrive at a peaceful solution, but to no avail. In this context, the Report of the M.E.A. refers to the discussions held by the Government of India during the visit of Sri Lankan Minister Gamini Dissanayake to New Delhi on January 14th and 15th, 1987.
However, it appears that, by this time, the approach of the Sri Lankan Government towards mediation by India had become lukewarm and resultantly, not much headway could be made in these talks.
28.4 The Sri Lankan Government, after the breakdown of the talks, begun a major military offensive against the Sri Lankan Tamil militants. This resulted in another fresh influx of the beleaguered Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in the state of Tamil Nadu thereby increasing the concern of the State Government as well as the Government of India towards this problem.
REACTIONS IN TAMIL NADU
29 The plight of the Sri Lankan Tamil population in Sri Lanka evoked strong sympathy in Tamil Nadu. Several political and public forums who had been espousing the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils urged the Government of India, in very strong terms, to intervene and put an end to the atrocities of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces on the minority Sri Lankan Tamils of Northern Sri Lanka. Similarly, as the situation progressively deteriorated in Sri Lanka, verious Sri Lankan Tamil groups also pleaded with India to mediate in the matter.
29.1 The State Government of Tamil Nadu, then headed by Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran of AIADMK, came out in strong support of the Sri Lankan Tamil minorities. All political parties in Tamil Nadu buried their diffeences on this issue and came out in support of the suffering Sri Lankan Tamils. The focus of the sympathy was on inhuman treatment being meted out to the Sri Lankan Tamil minorities in Northern Sri Lanka and the need to provide succour to them. It was in this context that financial assistance was provided by the Tamil Nadu Government to the Sri Lankan Tamils.
29.2 Evidence before the Commission indicates that the Government of Tamil Nadu, then headed by M.G. Ramachandran, announced a financial aid amounting to Rs. four crores in two instalments to a couple of Sri Lankan Tamil rehabilitation organisations on 30th. April, 1987; an announcement to this effect was made on the floor of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and apparently the resolution was passed. Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and leader of AIADMK, Selvi J. Jayalalitha deposed before the Commission on this issue and stated that :-
Deposition of J. Jayalalitha dt. 19th. Nov.,96 (Page 2)
"...there was an asistance of Rs. 4 crores given to LTTE by M.G.R. .... this monetary assistance was given from Government...... There was a resolution passed by Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly to this effect, and in pursuance to this resolution the one time monetary aid was given."
In his Affidavit (no. 187/94-JCI) filed before the Commission, Shri M. Karunanidhi speaks about this financial aid. He submitted :-
"...in April 1987 the then Government of Tamil Nadu gave a financial aid of Rs. 4 crores to an undisclosed Sri Lankan Tamil Agency in Madras and an announcement to this effect was made in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on 27.4.87. "
During his deposition before the Commission, Shri Karunanidhi, on this aspect stated :-
Deposition of Shri M.Karunanidhi dt. 22-11-96
"In the year 1987, from the Govt funds, Rs 4 crores were given stating that it was an assistance from Tamil Nadu to Jaffna Tamils and this money was handed over to the LTTE. The concerned news items is in Indian Express dated 28th April 1987 marked as Exh. 544."
Given the prevailing mood and the public opinion in Tamil Nadu, which was overwhelmingly in favour of the Sri Lankan Tamils, this step of providing financial aid appears to have been welcomed. While deposing before the Commission about the situation prevailing at that time, particularly, after November 1986, when the seized arms etc. of the Sri Lankan Militant groups were returned to them in Tamil Nadu, Shri M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, stated :-
(Deposition Dt. 17-1-97)
"Since the feelings of the DMK Party, Central Govt and MGR Govt was one and the same, we also supported the return of the arms. I do not remember whether the DMK Legislative Party supported the Resolution passed in the Assembly for granting Rs 4 and a half crores as aid to LTTE, by the MGR Government. I do not know whether it was a unanimous resolution or an unopposed resolution."
During his deposition before the Commission, S. Guhan, the then political Advisor to M. Karunanidhi, spoke about the financial assistance. He stated :-
Deposition of Shri S.Guhan dt. 7.10.96
"In April 1987, Shri M.G.Ramachandran, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu gave Rs. 4 crores to the LTTE which was published in newspapers, photographs were also published."
While admitting the financial assistance, the Government of Tamil Nadu has denied that any assistance was given to the LTTE. Details of the financial aid given by the Government are found in affidavit no. 116/93-JCI submitted by Shri T.V. Venkataraman, former Chief Secretary, Tamil Nadu. In the affidavit, he stated :-
"....the Government have not given any financial assistance to any of the militants' groups. .... financial assistance extended for the rehabilitation of of the Sri Lankan Tamils affected by the ethnic violence in Sri Lanka. A sum of Rs. 3 crores was given for the purpose of rehabilitation of the affected Sri Lankan Tamils to 'Tamils' Rehabilitation Organisation', Indira Nagar, Adyar, Madras-20 on 30th. April, 1987 and another one crore rupees to 'Rehabilitation Organisation Of Tamils in Sri Lanka' (ROOTS), 36, Laxmipuram, Madras-24 on 30th. April, 1987."
Developments in Sri Lanka Pertaining to Ethnic Strife--January 1987-May 1987
29.3 The military offensive against Sri Lankan Tamils in Jaffna peninsula carried on relentlessly. Shri J.N. Dixit, former Foreign Secretary, has narrated this event during his deposition before the Commission as follows :-
Deposition of Shri J.N. Dixit dt. 11.4.96
"From January 1987 Sri Lankan Government started military operations against the Tamils.... Apart from military operations, Govt. blockaded the entire Jaffna area. By May, 1987, the situation in Jaffna was very bad. There was complete economic blockade. So there was representation to the High Commission / Govt. of India, Tamil Nadu Govt. Tamil Nadu leaders by various Tamil groups in Sri Lanka. They wanted that India should do something to give them relief. "
29.4 By May 1987, the situation in Sri Lanka had reached a point where India could not afford to wait any longer while both the Tamils and Sri Lankan Government refused to compromise.
Material placed by the Ministry of External Affairs before the Commission (Affidavit no. 360/97-JCI - privileged) indicates that during the course of 1987 the Sri Lankan Government had intensified its ground and air operations against Tamil militants which extensively affected Tamil civilians in Jaffna since April 22, after the Habarana massacre on April 17 and the bomb blast at Colombo's Central Bus Stand at Pettah on April 21. The Sri Lankan Army made a massive military thrust in the Northern areas with intensified ground and air operations. Preparations were clearly afoot for a final offensive on the peninsula including an attack on Jaffna city between April and June. Reports available with Government of India indicated that the Sri Lankan Government was prepared to inflict heavy casualties in Jaffna, if necessary, for a quick capture of the city. President Jayawardene declared publicly on 27th May that " this would be a fight to the finish". The Sri Lankan Government declared an economic blockade in the North Eastern part of Sri Lanka which resulted in gruelling hardships to the Sri Lankan Tamils who inhabited the region. The hostilities between the Sri Lankan Security forces and the Sri Lankan Tamil militants resulted in a fresh influx of refugees into India.
The economic blockade of the Jaffna peninsula led to a situation where even foodgrains became scarce and the beseiged population of the Jaffna peninsula was deprived even of essential food to sustain themselves.
Both the military and economic pressure on the Tamil population of Jaffna was reaching intolerable thresholds; there were repeated appeals to the Government of India to undertake measures toremedy the situation.
The situation further deteriorated with the launching of a fresh military offensive called 'Operation Liberation' by the Sri Lankan Army and Air Force. There were reports of indiscriminate bombing and strafing by the military of Tamil civilians.
The Sri Lankan Tamil groups, under these circumstances, made desparate appeals to the Government of India for providing succor. A TULF delegation led by Shri A. Amirthalingam came to Delhi during May 20th to May 24th. for this purpose.
June 1987-Airdropping of Essential Commodities ByI A.F.
29.5 The outrage which this action provoked particularly in Tamil Nadu compelled the Government of India to intervene on humanitarian grounds. Shri J. N. Dixit, in his deposition dated 11th. April, 1996, has narrated this event as follows :-
"Taking note of the sufferings of the Tamils, the Government of India decided to send relief supplies by ships, unarmed ships giving advance notice to the Sri Lankan Govt. These ships reached Sri Lankan waters around midnight of 3rd. June, 1987. Despite our having informed Sri Lankan authorities in advance, the Sri Lankan Navy prevented our ships from unloading the supplies; they were sent back. So, the Govt. of India decided to convey a firm message to Sri Lankan Govt. that we are concerned about the welfare of the Tamils. We decided to do the airdrop. .... The airdrop took place between 3 and 4 P.M. on 4th. of July, 1987..... 4 to 6 AN 32 aircraft dropped supplies. Though the Sri Lankans protested politically they did not take any action."
This gesture on the part of India clearly indicated that India was willing to intervene firmly to end the problem on humanitarian grounds. But, this gesture had its own fallout in the form of antagonising the hard liner Sinhalese elements of Sri Lanka. As per the deposition of Shri J.N. Dixit, this step, while providing succor to the suffering Sri Lankan Tamils, antagonised the Sri Lankan Sinhalese elements. He stated :-
" By the 5th. June, 1987, they agreed that we can send supplies by ships and the supplies were sent under the mutually agreed supervision of the Red Cross. 250 thousand human beings were without any essential commodities. .... This incident of airdropping generated a lot of resentment amongst the Sinhalese. But the Govt. of Sri Lanka realised they cannot continue with military operations against the Tamils."
The Attitude of the Political Parties and Climate in Tamil Nadu after Indo-Sri Lankan Accord and Induction of I.P.K.F.
30 While such a mood was prevailing at that time, the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees kept pouring in India and the Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups, encouraged by the turn of events, continued their activities from Tamil Nadu.
Evidence available to the Commission, however, indicates that the Sri Lankan Tamil militants who were based in Tamil Nadu during this period were being kept in check by constant watch and there also appears to be some semblence of political control over them. This fact has been stated by several witnesses who deposed before the Commission. During his deposition before the Commission, Shri N.V. Vathsan, former Joint Director, Intelligence Bureau, stated :-
( Deposition dt. 20-1-97)
"Sri Lankan Tamil issue is a very emotional issue in Tamil Nadu. In view of perceived gross injustice done to the Tamils by the Sinhalese dominated Sri Lankan Government, almost all the political parties in Tamil Nadu have fully supported the Sri Lankan Tamils stand. That is how different Tamil Political parties were supporting different groups like LTTE, EPRLF, PLOTE, etc. During the days of Shri M.G. Ramachandran, while he supported the LTTE, he had full control over their movements and activities in Tamil Nadu."
Speaking about this, Selvi J. Jayalalitha, foremr Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and leader of AIADMK, deposed before the Commission that :-
Deposition dt. 19th. Nov. 1996
"... it was the general policy of the AIADMK to extend support to LTTE because it was believed that the lasting and peaceful solution to the Sri Lankan Tamil problem could not be evolved without the participation of LTTE, but after the assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi .... they were perceived as a group of deadly terrorists who should not be encouraged.... Our support was not for Tamil Eelam but for a solution within the framework of the Indo Sri Lankan Accord."
"During the period of Mr. M.G.R's period as C.M. he had kept Sri Lankan militants under firm control in Tamil Nadu."
30.1 These series of events ultimately culminated in the signing of the Indo- Sri Lankan Accord of 1987 and the induction of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka as a corollary to the Accord. All major Sri Lankan Tamil groups including the LTTE were taken into confidence and their concurrence obtained before the Accord was signed. In the process of disarming the militants, the IPKF, initially, met with some success, but due to an incident of capture of 17 LTTE cadres by the Sri Lankan Navy followed by 13 of them committing suicide by cyanide while in Sri Lankan Government's custody in October, 1987, made LTTE take up arms against the Indian Peace Keeping Force. This was the beginning of a new era when full fledged hostilities continued in the form of a low intensity warfare between the Indian Peace Keeping Force and the LTTE in Sri Lanka.
Details of events leading to the Accord and the developments relating to IPKF operations have been discussed in a separate chapter.
30.2 The situation prevailing in India which significantly contributed to the urgent need to arrive at an Accord have been narrated by Shri B.G. Deshmukh during his deposition before the Commission. He stated :-
Deposition of Sri B.G. Deshmukh dt. 3.4.96
"Disturbance in Sri Lanka resulted into influx of Tamil refugees to India. Govt. of India was concerned with the repatriation of refugees which came from Sri Lanka. There were differences between Tamil militants and the Sri Lankan Government. The perception of the Indian Govt was refugees would not be able to go back till peace was restored in Sri Lanka. In this manner the Indian Govt was concerned about Sri Lankan problem. Shri Gandhi made effort to bring about peace in Sri Lanka. Shri Rajiv Gandhi was interested in maintaining territorial sovereignty and integrity of Sri Lanka. IPKF was sent on the request of President J.R.Jayawardene. Efforts were made to bring Shri Prabhakaran and to involve LTTE in talks. Premadasa was unhappy about sending of IPKF to Sri Lanka. Accord was not acceptable to LTTE. LTTE was unhappy with Indian Govt. and so with Rajiv Gandhi being the head of the Government. Tamil Reports started pouring in that LTTE is opposed to Rajiv Gandhi and are hostile to him."
In Tamil Nadu, paradoxically, most political parties protested against the Indo Sri Lankan Accord and the resultant operations of the IPKF. After the hostilities broke out between IPK IPKF and the LTTE in Sri Lanka, the political parties and Sri Lankan Tamil sympathisers in Tamil Nadu openly came out in support of the LTTE and against IPKF operations. One of the most vociferous critic of the Accord was the DMK which claimed that the LTTE had never fully endorsed the ISLA. During his deposition before the Commission, on this issue, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Shri M. Karunanidhi stated :-
Deposition of M. Karunanidhi dt. 17-1-97
"I never questioned the intentions of Shri Rajiv Gandhi, but I only criticised the way the Accord was signed. Prabhakaran was never made to commit by signing of the document. If he had made to commit perhaps the objective of the Accord could have been achieved. My statement should be understood in that spirit. I read from the newspapers that the Indian Govt held talks with all the Sri Lankan militant groups prior to the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord.
They (LTTE) half-heartedly accepted the accord. This was reported contemporaneously. I read the news that LTTE declined to accept the Accord only after certain imprisoned LTTE cadres were massacred in Jail and their bodies reached Jaffna."
30.3 As the hostilities between the IPKF and LTTE in Sri Lanka escalated, all major regional political parties of Tamil Nadu appear to have become staunchly sympathetic to the cause of the LTTE and protested vehemently against both the Government of India and the Government of Sri Lanka.
By this time, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Shri M.G. Ramachandran of AIADMK had been taken seriously ill and was flown to the U.S.A. for treatment. Shri M.G. Ramachandran, who was widely perceived as a friend of the LTTE, had played a significant role just prior to the signing of the Indo Sri Lankan Accord in convincing V.Pirabhakaran of LTTE and obtaining his concurrence for the Accord. In his absence, the policy of the AIADMK appears to have undergone a perceptible change in as much as the Central Government was being openly criticised by AIADMK leaders for the IPKF operations in Sri Lanka.
It appears that in the minds of the leaders of the regional chauvinist parties of Tamil Nadu, the confrontation in Sri Lanka between LTTE and IPKF was perceived as an anti - Tamil stance of the Central Government. It was also being increasingly perceived that the Government of India had started colluding with the Government of Sri Lanka in their struggle against the LTTE.
The prevailing mood in the State of Tamil Nadu has been elaborated by the Intelligence Bureau in the following communication appended with affidavit no. 57/92-JCI of Shri E.S.L. Narsimhan, JD, I.B. :-
DIB U.O.No.31/JI/87(1)-996 dated October 14, 1987
Reactions to the current confrontation between Indian Peace Keeping Force(IPKF) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE).
"In the wake of the current operations launched by the Indian Peace Speaking Force(IPKF) against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, (LTTE) regional/ parochial parties and organisations in Tamilnadu including DMK, AIADMK, Dravida Kazhgam (DK) and Tamilnadu Kamraj Congress (TNKC) have come out with strongly worded statements against the Government of India, the IPKF and the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord and have threatened to launch widespread protest actions. Describing the Accord as an 'altar' at which Sri Lankan Tamils are being sacrificed, M.Karunanidhi, DMK President, stated that Jayawardane is taking advantage of it to liquidate the freedom struggle of Sri Lankan Tamils. While indicating that he would solicit the support of their opposition parties for launching a joint agitation to condemn the Government of India's role, the DMK President gave a call (Oct.13) for holding protest rallies all over Tamilnadu on October 15 to be followed by public meetings on October 17. The attempt of 9 DMK workers at Palani, Anna District on October 11 to burn the effigy of the Prime Minister and President Jayawardene, though foiled by police, is an indication of the mood of anger and frustration prevailing in the rank and file of the party. Two leaders of the LTTE reportedly met the DMK President on October 13 with a letter from LTTE Chief V. Prabhakaran appealing to the leaders of all political parties in Tamilnadu to 'understand the real situation' and launch an agitation in support of the LTTE struggle to save the Eelam Tamils from destruction. Prabhakaran is understood to have conveyed his willingness to resume talks with the Government of India for a peaceful resolution of the current confrontation.
While M.G.Ramachandran, Chief Minister in a statement from USA (October 11) characterised the present confrontation between the IPKF and LTTE as 'unfortunate and painful' and held the Sri Lankan Government responsible for the present trouble as they had tried to take the arrested LTTE personnel to Colombo instead of handing them over to IPKF, K.Kalimuthu, former AIADMK Minister, took serious exception to Jayawardene's announcement of a reward Rs.10 lakh for capturing LTTE Chief, Prabhakaran in presence of the Indian Defence Minister and warned that the present behaviour of the IPKF, if continued, would widen the gap between the people of Tamil Nadu and Government of India'. He averred that 'no force on earth would be able to contain the people of Tamilnadu if driven to the boiling point.' Kulandaivelu, MP AIADMK, is learnt to have sent telegrams to the President and the Prime Minister to 'halt the massacre of Tamils in Sri Lanka by the IPKF'.
The D.K.Executive Committee in a meeting on October 9 demanded replacement of the present Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka by a Tamilian Diplomat, condemned the alleged anti- LTTE propaganda on A.I.R. and Doordarshan and threatened to launch an agitation in case these were not stopped. Asserting the futility of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord and failure of the IPKF to protect the Tamils, K.Veeramani, General Secretary, DK, regretted (Oct.9) that the Prime Minister did not even send any message of condolence on the death of LTTE activists.
P.Nedumaran, President TNKC, alleged(Madurai- Oct 10) that the IPKF had destroyed the 'Eelam-Urasu' (a local journal) building and T.V.Station run by the LTTE in Sri Lanka and declared that TNKC and DK would launch a joint agitation if the pro-Sinhalese and pro- Jayawardene broadcasts from A.I.R. and Doordarshan are not stopped. He also alleged that the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord is a betrayal of the cause of Tamils and was signed in haste with a view to divert the attention of the people from the scandals connected with defence deals. He vehemently condemned IPKF for its offensive against the LTTE and asserted that people killed by IPKF recently were not LTTE cadres but only innocent Tamils. In a function at Madurai on Oct.11 Nedumaran along with K.A.P.Vishwanathan, a renowned scholar, launched a new movement called 'World Tamils Resurgence Movement' aimed at unity among Tamils all over the world under an able leadership. In another statement at Madurai on October 12, Nedumaran strongly criticised the State and Central Governments for the action and urged student community to protest against the killings of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Hand-written boards and posters have appeared in some places in Tirunelveli, Trichy, Erode, Palai and Tuticorin on October 12 demanding immediate release of LTTE leaders and men arrested in Sri Lanka, arrest of Sri Lankan Minister Lalit Athulathamudali for his role in the death of 12 LTTE personnel, stop false propaganda through Doordarshan and AIR against LTTE and appealing to Tamilnadu People not to remain silent over the genocide in Sri Lanka by the IPKF.
The impact of the provocative statements by leaders of these organisations, on the student community in the state is discernible. Students of Annamalai University organised a rally and boycotted and students of Trichy and Madras Law colleges boycotted Classes and the former resorted to road blockade on October 12. Tamilnadu Youth Movement - a front organisation of the IPF - brought out posters in Madurai town on October 11 urging the Government of India to withdraw the IPKF from Sri Lanka as it has failed to solve the Sri Lankan problem. Two pro-DK youth made an attempt at self-immolation at different places on October 9, and 11 in support of the LTTE cause.
The editorial comment in 'The Hindu' on October 12 that "the Government of India had regrettably failed to expose the acts of back- sliding on the part of the Sri Lankan Government" thereby creating an impression that Rajiv's Sri Lankan policy was tilting against the Tamils contrary to its original objective has to some extent helped in moulding public opinion against the current development in Sri Lanka. Another indication of the larger involvement of local intelligentsia is the decision of the Confederation of Tamil poets to take out a procession in Madras today (Oct.14) in protest against IPKF action."
30.4 The reverberations of these strong Tamil pro LTTE sentiments were also felt among Tamils in India residing outside Tamil Nadu. Karnataka State has a sizeable number of Tamils associated with the branches of Tamil chauvinist groups. This section came to notice most starkly when Sivarasan and other accused of the LTTE involved in the assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi found sanctuary in Bangalore and its suburbs in July - August, 1991. It appears that the anti IPKF sentiments were also being voiced in 1987 by this section of Tamil population settled in Karnataka as is evident from the above communication of the I.B. which states :-
2. "The reflections of these protestations in Tamilnadu are also discernible among the Tamil population in other States. The Karnataka Tamils Federation (KTF), a pro-LTTE organisation in Bangalore has distributed pamphlets and copies of letters said to have been written by LTTE leader complaining against malicious propaganda by the A.I.R. and Doordarshan. They have also accused the Indian Government for badly letting down the LTTE which may cause large scale harassment to its cadre by the Sri Lankan Government. The KTF workers have reportedly sent telegrams to the Embassies of Norway, Pakistan, UK, USA etc. complaining about the prejudicial attitude of the Indian Government towards LTTE, KTF and other LTTE sympathisers are also behind the provocative wall writings in some parts of Bangalore decrying the P.M. as murderer of LTTE leaders. KTF is also shortly sponsoring a meeting of Tamil political leaders and various Tamil associations in Bangalore to which K.Veeramani and Nedumaran will be invited."
30.5 The developments narrated above indicate a significant change in the public perception in Tamil Nadu as also a strategic shift in the political alignment of the LTTE with political parties in Tamil Nadu. The Central Government, so far, was seen as a reliable and staunch upholder of the legitimate rights of the Sri Lankan Tamil minorities. Peace initiatives made over the last four years at the political and diplomatic level by the Government of India were perceived to be primarily aimed at securing legitimate rights for the Sri Lankan Tamil minorities which the Sinhala dominated Government of Sri Lanka had persistently resisted.
However, after the signing of the Indo Sri Lankan Accord and the subsequent disarming of militants followed by hostilities between the LTTE and the IPKF, it appears that the regional political parties in Tamil Nadu vociferously began to campaign that the Government of India had abandoned the Tamil cause and was collaborating with the Sri Lankan Government in crushing the Tamils.
These political parties, through sustained propaganda in the form of processions, protests, public meetings and public utterances managed to create and sustain an anti Centre atmosphere in general and anti - Rajiv Gandhi sentiments in particular among the impressionable sections of the population of the State, especially youth and students.
Another development, which becomes discernable at this stage is that the LTTE, as a militant organisation championing the cause of the oppressed Tamils, catapulted into prominence. The prevailing pro LTTE sentiments appear to have suited the ambitions of the LTTE to be seen as the sole representatives of the Tamils. While, so far, LTTE was being treated only as one of the various Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups by the Government of India, its stand against the IPKF in Sri Lanka caused various political parties in Tamil Nadu to eulogise them as protectors of Tamils at the cost of the Government of India.
By this time, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Shri M.G. Ramachandran was on his death bed and the LTTE, unsure of the continuance of support from the AIADMK and increasing hostility from the Central Government, shifted its strategic loyalities towards the DMK.
So far, the LTTE had been perceived to be supported by the AIADMK Government led by M.G.R. Selvi Jayalalitha, leader of AIADMK, during her deposition before the Commission, stated that her party had been supporting the LTTE since it was perceived that no solution to the Sri Lankan ethnic crisis was possible without involving the LTTE.
During the period when Shri M.G. Ramachandran was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, the LTTE appears to have kept a distance from the DMK lest it should incur the displeasure of Shri M.G. Ramachandran. Speaking about this attitude of the LTTE, Shri M. Karunanidhi, DMK leader and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu deposed before the Commission on 22nd. November, 1996. He stated :-
"It is my practice that on my birthday I used to collect money.. and distribute the same for philanthropic purposes... in the year 1986 I made an announcement that the money .... will be given to the five militant groups..... I made an announcement that I will give Rs. 50,000 to each militant group....All the groups accepted the money and LTTE did not receive the money and inspite of our reminders, the LTTE did not even contact us."
Shri Karunanidhi also, in his deposition pointed out how the LTTE had ignored and scorned his efforts when he had convened a meeting under the aegis of Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation appealing to forge unity among various Tamil militant groups. This meeting was convened on 4th. May, 1986 at Madurai. According to Shri Karunanidhi:-
Deposition of Shri M. Karunanidhi dt. 22.11.96
"There was a conference of Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation on 4.5.86 at Madurai which I organised and participated. .... All of us urged these militant groups to unite....But on the next day, namely, 5.5.86, the TELO leader Sabaratnam was murdered by the LTTE in Sri Lanka."
However, under the changed scenario, the LTTE, it appears , made a strategic shift in their political alignments. They sent personal emissaries to Shri Karunanidhi for seeking his active support in their battle against the IPKF. These overtures by the LTTE towards the DMK appear to have started a chain of events which led to LTTE's survival and growth in Tamil Nadu even after the policy of the Government of India changed towards the LTTE after the hostilities between the IPKF and LTTE in Sri Lanka.
This fact also finds a mention in the Intelligence Bureau compendium submitted before the Commission on the subject "LTTE SUPPORT BASE IN TAMIL NADU / INDIA", where it is stated :-
II.Support/Attitude of Indian Political Leaders Govt. of Tamil Nadu Towards the LTTE
2.1 Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam(DMK)
TE which had so far spurned the offer of close link with the DMK in order not to antagonise the AIADMK had sought active support from DMK by sending two emissaries to Karunanidhi who were reported to have met him on Oct.13 with a personal letter from Prabhakaran."
30.5.1 It is seen that, instead of petering out, the wave in favour of the LTTE and against the Government of India headed by Shri Rajiv Gandhi, continued to be sustained by the regional parties like Dravida Kazhagam (DK), Tamilnadu Kamraj Congress (TNKC) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). Apparently, these parties found, in these events, an opportunity to nurture and stoke Tamil chauvinistic sentiments in order to gain public support. Evidence of a planned strategy to achieve this objective is seen in the systemetic manner in which these parties went about planning various agitational programmes. During October, 1987, these parties chalked out several programmes of agitation -- The DK and TNKC decided to picket the AIR and TV stations in the state on October 26th, alleging false propaganda against the LTTE; The DMK decided to launch a 24-hour 'rail roko' agitation all over Tamilnadu on October 24th. The DMK also convened a public meeting at Madras on October 22nd to urge upon the Government to call off the IPKF offensive against LTTE; in the meeting, DMK organisers invited N.T.Rama Rao, C.M., Andhra Pradesh, Ramoowalia, MP, Akali Dal, K.P. Unnikrishnan, MP, Congress (S) Ajit Singh, President, Lok Dal (A), Dr.Subramaniam Swamy, General Secretary, Lok Dal (A) and P.Upendra, MP, TDP to address the meeting.
Simultaneously, propaganda campaign through graffiti, postering and group meetings by isolated groups of students and youth against IPKF operations continued to occur all over Tamil Nadu. Pamphlets blaming the IPKF for indiscriminate shelling and strafing of Jaffna resulting in wide- spread destruction, were distributed. A section of vernacular press also indulged publishing some reportedly fabricated stories of atrocities on the Tamil population in Jaffna area by the IPKF.
The leading political parties including DMK and AIADMK, it appears, started vying with each other in carrying out anti IPKF propaganda. Shri S.Kandappan, Propaganda Secretary of DMK threatened that there would be wide-spread bomb explosions throughout the State on the Diwali Day if the operations of the IPKF were not stopped by that time. A section of the AIADMK also jumped into the fray when Shri Kalimuthu, Deputy General Secretary, AIADMK, threatened blood-shed if any physical harm was done to the LTTE leader, Prabhakaran.
Amidst this clamour, there were some sections of the political parties in the State who attempted to counter this ongoing anti Centre, anti IPKF propaganda. A section of AIADMK led by S/Shri R.M. Veerapan, V.R. Nedunchezian and leaders of Congress(I) and CPI (Kalyan Sundaram faction), supported the IPKF operations and accused the LTTE of breach of trust. Shri 'Cho' Ramaswamy, Editor Tuglak and Kalki, a popular Tamil Weekly, also extended support to IPKF action. The local edition of the Indian Express even advocated complete sealing of the Jaffna peninsula to prevent fresh arms supply to LTTE. The State youth Congress(I) planned to mobilise support for IPKF operations by holding public meetings and processions on October 25th in co-operation with some Sri Lankan Tamil militant organisations like the TELO, PLOT and EPRLF.
Nevertheless, the regional chauvinist parties did manage to arouse the pro Tamil feelings of the public of Tamil Nadu strongly in favour of the LTTE during this period. A report of the I.B. sums up the situation of this period as follows (Annexure M - 3) :-
4. "Notwithstanding the counter propaganda by the Congress(I) and CPI elements, the pro-LTTE groups in Tamil Nadu have achieved limited success in mobilising public opinion to their advantage, although due to difference between the DMK, DK-TNKC combine and pro-LTTE elements of the AIADMK, the agitational tempo has remained at low key so far. The reaction of the student community in the state has been sporadic and disjointed and no effort has been made to coordinate their action as yet. Even then, the militant programme of rail roko (Oct. 24- 25) and picketing (Oct.26) etc. portends confrontation with the law enforcing authorities which is like to add momentum to the agitation."
30.5.2 It appears that, by the end of 1987, the regional political parties of Tamil Nadu, who were politically opposed to the Central Government headed by Shri Rajiv Gandhi, managed to arouse considerable public antipathy towards the Central Government and corresponding sympathy for the LTTE in the State. This political strategy, unfortunately, led to a situation where the public sentiments and feelings started bordering on the verge of anti nationalism.
The situation and mood in Tamil Nadu during this period is reflected in the following communication of the I.B. :-
(DIB U.O.No.31/JI/87(1)-1096 dated Dec. 2, 1987)
Tamilnadu : Reactions to IPKF operations
"The resumption of the IPKF Operations from November 23 evoked sharp criticism from the pro-LTTE organisations in Tamilnadu. the DMK Central Administrative Committee decided (Madras - Nov. 27) to launch a week-long programme of cycle rallies and padyatras in villages and towns from Dec.3-10 besides organsing public meeting/rallies at District Hqrs from Dec. 9. P. Nedumaran (President (TNKC) and K. Veeramani (General Secretary DK) warned of `unpleasant consequences of a militant solution not only in Srilanka but also in Tamilnadu'. Tamilnadu Forward Bloc and the Cooperation Minister(FB) of West Bengal, among others, who participated in the 34th birthday of the LTTE Chief, Prabhakaran, at Madras on Nov. 26 celebrated by 'Thambi Prabhakaran Paasarai', eulogised the role of LTTE in the cause of Eelam Tamils.
2. A number of splinter pro-LTTE organisations, such as Tamil Protection Federation, People's Art and Literary Association, LTTE Friendship Association, Liberation Tigers Solidarity Organisation (pro-DK) and Tamil Youth Forum, also indulged in derogatory utterances against the Prime Minister and the Government's Sri Lanka policy during the past few days. The Liberation Tigers Solidarity Organisation and Dravida Kazhagam, with the support of student unions of some colleges of Coimbatore, launched a signature campaign to counter the pro- IPKF campaign launched by the State Congress-I. Some wall posters issued in the name of Pulmai Pithan, a Tamil poet, reading that 'Tamils can never become Indians and Indians can never become Tamils' were found displayed in Chinglepet Dist. and Madras city. Tamil Mannan, President, Tamil Protection Federation, has held the Prime Minister personally responsible for the 'rape and murder perpetrated on Tamils in Srilanka by the IPKF' and threatened that Tamil Tigers would emerge in Tamilnadu even if they are suppressed in Jaffna. A seminar of intellectuals and pro-LTTE political leaders (75-Trichy-Nov.28) was used as a forum for highly inflammatory speeches against the Prime Minister and the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord. Though the strength of these organisation and the following of their leaders is insignificant and response to their programmes has been limited (50-250), the highly provocative and anti-Centre statements issued by them portend emergence of extremist groups in the State.
3. An anonymous letter (Nov.23) threatening to blow up all Central Government offices and installations in Tamilnadu before the end of November, 1987, and even to attempt assassination of the P.M. is indicative of the sinister designs of certain underground extremist elements and organisations who are yet to be identified. The anonymous letter also indicated about a special group being kept in readiness at Madurai in Tamilnadu for the assassination attempt.
4. In the background of anti-Centre stand taken by various individuals and organisations in Tamil Nadu backed up by the views expressed by various national parties against continued IPKF operations, it is likely that the demand for the cessation of IPKF operations will gradually gain ground and evoke increasing public support."