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Jain Commission Interim Report

Growth of Sri Lankan Tamil Militancy in Tamil Nadu
Chapter I - Phase II (1987-1988)

Sections 22 to 25

22. Smuggling activities of the LTTE/SL militants during 1987-1988 | 23. Activities of Tamil chauvinist groups | 24. Justice Nag Tribunal report | 25. Policy of Govt of India and the situation in Tamil Nadu

Smuggling Activities of the LTTE /Sri Lankan Militants During 1987-1988

36 During the period 1987 and 1988, several instances of smuggling by the Sri Lankan militants, predominantly, the LTTE came to light. Information furnished in Affidavit No. 93/93-JCI, of J. Ramakrishnan, Principal Collector of Customs and Central Excise, Madras, is illustrative of the trend of the period. The following two instances of smuggling have been narrated by the Customs Department in the affidavit :-

"On 25.1.1988, the officers of the Customs Sea Base party, Point Calimere of Nagapattinam, acting on certain intelligence during the course of patrolling noticed a blue coloured van coming from Vedaranyam side and proceeding towards Kodiakkarai side. The officers showed signals to stop the vehicle. The officers chased the van and intercepted it.... The occupants of the van escaped in darkness. The officers noticed eight gunny bundles and four card board boxes laden in the said van. .... found to contain wireless equipment, bullets and rocket launchers all of foreign origin... since no person was apprehended by the officials, it is not possible to state whether the escaped persons were the group of LTTE or anybody else."

"There was another seizure of items like arms & ammunition, medicines, foodstuff, apparels and lungies etc. valued about Rs. 69.17 lakhs on 16.12.1988, by the Customs officers at Nagapattinam, Tanjore District. ....a number of LTTE letter-pads and 16 numbers of LTTE printing blocks were seized alongwith the offending goods...it appeared that they were meant for smuggling to Sri Lanka."

In affidavit no. 170/93-JCI of Shri T.V. Venkataraman, former Chief Secretary Tamil Nadu, the following serious incident of smuggling by the LTTE has been narrated :-

"Crime No.0067/88 of Mamallapuram PS MGR West dated 16.03.1988 of Distt. Chingleput u/s 307 IPC. At about 0100 hrs at Devanerikuppam seashore, a Customs party intercepted a van suspected to be smuggling goods. But the occupants of the van, suspected LTTE militants opened fire towards the Customs officials and sped away. Investigations revealed that the LTTE militants with the help of some local fishermen were transporting arms and ammunition from the high seas to the shores by catamarans. Large quantity of arms and pellets etc, were seized along the shore as they were abandoned by the militants and local fishermen when intercepted by the Customs party."

These instances corroborate that the apprehensions of the IPKF and the Government of India that the LTTE, besides anti India propaganda, was also indulging in clandestine smuggling activities in Tamil Nadu to sustain their war efforts, were, indeed, founded on facts.

The smuggling activities of the LTTE, especially the incident mentioned above, also indicates that the LTTE was being clandestinely supported by local elements including smugglers. This local support to the LTTE, became a serious cause for concern later, and enabled the LTTE to continue operating in Tamil Nadu with a degree of immunity even when the Government of India had sternly attempted to put down their militant activities after the President's Rule was imposed in Tamil Nadu in January, 1988.

Activities of Tamil Chauvinist Groups

37 Tamil Chauvinism has been existing in the State of Tamil Nadu in various forms throughout. At the time of independence, a section of these elements propagated the concept of a separate Dravidian country. The Tamil leader "Periyar" Ramaswamy Nayakar founded Dravida Kazhagam (DK) in Tamil Nadu in 1944; this party, initially advocated formation of a separate Dravidian country which was contemplated to comprise the entire erstwhile Madras Presidency. Later, in 1949, after DK split and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was founded by CN Annadurai, and after the formation of Andhra Pradesh as a state, this idea was temporarily abandoned.

37.1 During the eighties, especially after the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka came into sharp focus, there is seen a revival of Tamil Chauvinism. A large number of Tamil chauvinist groups became active in the early eighties. While many groups confined themselves to propaganda, certain other groups began indulging in serious anti national and criminal activities.

37.2 These groups are seen to have revived their activities vigorously during the period when IPKF was sent to Sri Lanka and pro Tamil sentiments were running high in the State.

During this period, the activities of the Sri Lankan militants in Tamil Nadu comprised anti India propaganda, smuggling of contrabands, medicines and items required for war, manufacture of armaments and ammunition including hand-grenades, treatment of the militants wounded in battle with the IPKF and operation of a highly organised wireless communication network. The deportation of 157 LTTE militants, who had been arrested and detained under the National Security Act (NSA) in Tamil Nadu, in October, 1988, to Sri Lanka only temporarily deterred the LTTE.

A disturbing factor, at this stage, was the active support given by certain Tamil Chauvinist elements to the LTTE in Tamil Nadu. Several chauvinistic parties and their leaders, began assisting the LTTE in its clandestine activities which had assumed an anti national dimension since the Indian Army was actively engaged in open hostilities with the LTTE in Sri Lanka.

The important Tamil Chauvinist groups operating in Tamil Nadu during this period were Tamil Liberation Army, Tamil Pasarai, Tamil National Movement, Radical Youth League etc.

37.3 The activities of the various Tamil Chauvinist groups operating in Tamil Nadu during this period have been narrated by the Central Government and State Government in their evidence produced before Justice Nag Tribunal, when the question of banning the LTTE was to be decided after the assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi. Relevant excerpts, in the context of activities of Tamil Chauvinist groups, from the order of Justice Nag Tribunal, are as follows :-

Justice Nag Tribunal Report

Justice Nag Tribunal, Government of India Gazette Extraordinary; Part II-

Section 3- Sub Section (ii)


(Pages 5 - 9) :-

"The Central Government has placed before the Tribunal evidence to the form of affidavits supported by documents in order to demonstrate that there was enough and adequate material before the Central Government for the formation of its opinion for declaring the LTTE as unlawful on facts and circumstances."

"The Central Government in the affidavit has further brought to the notice of the Tribunal about the unlawful activities of a number of radical chauvinist organisations such as Tamil Viduthalai Padai (Tamil Liberation Army), Tamil National Movement, Tamilar Pasarai etc. based in Tamil Nadu and their terrorize, and dangerous activities with the object of cession and disrupting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. They are staunch supporters of LTTE. They were formed at the instance of LTTE and they indulge in unlawful activities. This organisation is functioning as a wing of LTTE.

On 15.03.1987, a bomb exploded at Marudavan river bridge, near Ariyalur, resulting in the derailment of the Rockfort Express train, which was passing through the bridge. 26 persons were killed and 145 injured. A case in Virudhachalam R.P.S.Cr. No. 172/87 was registered by the Railway police and subsequently was taken over by the Crime Branch CID of the State on 17.03.1987.

During the course of investigation, some hand written wall posters were recovered from the scene of occurrence as well as in Ariyalur. These posters were written by the accused in this case, who in the judicial confession before the Judicial Magistrate admitted their complicity and about the formation of a group called Tamil Nadu Viduthalai Padai, headed by accused Thamilarasan.

It was found from the confession as well as from the evidence that the main aim of this group is to get Tamil Nadu separated from India, to bring hatred between Tamil speaking and non-Tamil speaking people and to topple the Government established by law.

According to the materials available this organisation is only a projection of LTTE and that it functions in direct link with LTTE. The confessional statement has been annexed as Annexure XX to the affidavit by way of evidence filed on behalf of the Central Government.

Bomb blasts occurred in the early hours of 10.04.1988 on the Nehru Statue at Kathipara junction in Madras City and at the T.V. Relay Station and instant death to one accused and injuries to two other accused while planting a time device bomb at the scene of occurrence. In both the places of occurrence manuscript ..... matters against the Government established by law of the land were found.

During the course of investigation, it was revealed that after Tamilarasan, the self- styled leader of Tamil Nadu Viduthalai Padai, was killed by the villagers of Ponparappi in Trichy District on 1.9.1987 while he and his associates committed dacoity in a Nationalised bank at Ponparappi, the accused in this bomb blast case took the leadership of Tamil Nadu Viduthalai Padai and were bent upon propagating the ideology of Tamilarasan and that of the LTTE to form to form a separate Tamil Nadu from out of the Union of India through violent means ...

On 18.05.1988, there was a bomb explosion on the carpet bed map of India in the Government Botanical Garden, Ooty. In this connection a case in Ooty B1 Police Station Cr. No. 439/88 u/s 286, 427, 447 IPC r/w 5((3) (b) of I.E. Act r/w sections 3 to 5 of I.E Act was registered and investigated by the local State Police. Thereafter the case was taken over by the Crime Branch CID, for further investigation. Investigations revealed that 11 persons arrested by the State Police in this case were members of Tamil Nadu Viduthalai Padai which is a projection of LTTE. A careful analysis of the facts available in this case makes it clear that these people entered into a criminal conspiracy to commit offences, commit acts of exciting disaffection in the minds of the public towards the Government of India, a Government established by law."

Another Tamil Chauvinist organisation which came to adverse notice during this period was the Radical Youth League (RYL). One instance of the members of RYL committing criminal acts has been narrated in affidavit no. 104/93- JCI of T.V. Venkataraman (Annexure A) as follows :-

"The RYL, and their followers supported L.T.T.E. and pasted posters hailing the L.T.T.E. On 8-6-88, Tamil Chauvinists and L.T.T.E. dropouts along with RYL cadres committed dacoity in the Bank of Madura and removed cash and jewels worth Rs. 60 Lakhs. Accused were arrested and most of the properties were recovered."

Policy of Govt of India and the Situation in Tamil Nadu

During the Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi's visit to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in June, 1988, the Intelligence Bureau had , in their security assessment, pointed out a threat from these quarters as is evident from the following excerpt :-

D.I.B. UO no. 11/VS/99 (37) 1212 dt. JUNE 13, 1988


2. "The Tamil Nadu Liberation Army(TNLA) has been responsible for a series of bomb blasts recently at Madras (April 10), Kodaikanal TV Station (April 11), and Ooty Botanical Garden (May 18, 1988); each of these having preceeded Prime Minister's visit to Tamil Nadu. The TNLA first came to notice on January 29, 1986 following the explosion on the Kudamurutty bridge in Thanjavar District on the eve of Prime Minister's visit to that area. Investigations into these recent incidents also indicate the involvement of Sri Lankan Tamils belonging to the Tamil Makkal Padukapu Peravai(TMPP), Tamil Chauvinists of the World Tamil Progressive Federation headed by Perunchitranar and some elements of the DMK."

It is noteworthy that all these Tamil chauvinist groups owe allegiance to LTTE and had been operating as their fronts.

This trend which had become discernable during this period gradually accentuated to alarming proportions soon after. Fresh Tamil chauvinist groups emerged, most important being the Tamil National Retrieval Troops (TNRT), who were trained by the LTTE in Jaffna and brought into India to act as front for the LTTE. The emergence and growth of these organisations and their activities during the period 1989 onwards have been discussed later in this chapter.

38 By the end of 1988, it is noticed that the crackdown by the Government on LTTE establishments and large scale deportation of 157 LTTE cadres from India had a considerable impact on the situation in Tamil Nadu. LTTE activities abated to a large extent and most LTTE cadres fled the State fearing detention.

The repeated complaints made by the Central Govenment as well as the IPKF authorities about the presence and activities of LTTE militants in Tamil Nadu is also seen to be a factor which impelled the crackdown on the LTTE by the State administration.

As is evident from several instances, there was certainly an element of hesitation in the minds of the State bureaucracy and the State law enforcing machinery in earnestly implementing the policy of the Central Government, perhaps due to the fact that the majority of political parties in Tamil Nadu, barring the Congress (I) and a few others, were unequivocally supporting the LTTE and opposing the policy of the Central Government in having allowed IPKF operations in Sri Lanka.

However, due to the fact that the State was under the President's Rule during this period, the policy of the Central Government finally prevailed and militancy could be controlled in Tamil Nadu to a large extent. \

This fact finds corroboration in the deposition, before the Commission, of Shri R. Nagarajan, former Home Sedretary, Tamil Nadu, who stated :-

Deposition of Shri R. Nagarajan dated 16.9.96 (page 4)

"...to my information all the Sri Lankan militants who were in Tamil Nadu before the Treaty had been sent back to Sri Lanka or by themselves they had fled to Sri Lanka. .............. Prior to 1987, during AIADMK rule, there were number of camps and residential places in the State and that list was made available to me in the law and order meeting by the Commissioner of Police, Madras and he made a verification whether any one still continued to be there and the activities were going on and the report received had established almost all of them had fled away."

39 As the year 1988 drew to a close, the overall situation in Tamil Nadu had altered considerably. After the 'Operation Tiger', the Sri Lankan militants had become wary and suspicious of the authorities; V.Prabhakaran had left India and the LTTE establishments in Tamil Nadu were operating with caution.

After the induction of the IPKF in Sri Lanka, when the hostilities between the LTTE and IPKF commenced in Sri Lanka, the activities of the LTTE cadres in India took an anti national colour. These activities, including anti India propaganda, smuggling activities etc. were decided to be curbed strictly. As a result, LTTE establishments were closed down in the State and their activities became subdued and clandestine.

At the same time, it appears that the Government of India was also attempting to negotiate with the LTTE and persuade them to agree to a peaceful implementation to the Accord. For this purpose, it appears that channels of communication were kept open in Tamil Nadu with some LTTE leaders, notably Krishnakumar @ Kittu.

It was, at this stage, not the policy of the Government of India to accord any assistance to the LTTE in terms of allowing treatment to their injured cadres etc. Resultantly, it is seen, repeatedly, instructions were being issued by the Central Government to the State authorities to effect a clampdown on LTTE activities.

While this was the official policy of the Central Government in dealing with Sri Lankan militant elements in Tamil Nadu, it is seen that the Central and State Government was being put under considerable pressure to give up their military campaign against the LTTE; a sustained campaign to this effect was launched anf nurtured by almost all the regional political parties of Tamil Nadu. The activities of Tamil Chauvinist secessionist and anti national elements experienced a resurgence during this period.

Taking advantage of the prevailing political climate, it appears, that the LTTE took full advantage of the sympathy factor in the State. They created fresh political alignments by approaching the DMK party for assistance thereby abandoning their traditional support of the AIADMK party, which had suffered a serious blow when its leader Shri M.G. Ramachandran died in Madras in December, 1987, following which the party split into two factions.

The detention of 157 LTTE cadres in the State in August, 1988, and their deportation to Sri Lanka in October, 1988 was a blow to the militant activities in the State. After the deportation, activities of the Sri Lankan militant groups were effectively subdued and carried on at a low key. It is seen that by the end of 1988, the problem of militancy in Tamil Nadu had been overcome to a large extent.

It is seen that in Sri Lanka, substantial progress in the implementation of the Indo Sri Lankan Accord was being made. After sustained military operations by the IPKF against the LTTE, elections could be held in November 1988 for the North East Provincial Council (NEPC) and an elected Government, headed by Vardharaja Perumal of EPRLF started functioning .

The Annual Report of the Ministry of External Affairs has summarised the progress on this front during the period 1988 -89 as follows :-

The Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement continued to be the framework for the improvement and strengthening of bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka. Despite the continued, and often violent opposition of extremist elements on both sides of the ethnic divide in Sri Lanka, several steps were taken for the further implementation of the Agreement. The most important of these was the successful holding of elections to the North-eastern province on 19th November 1988 which completed the process of creation of Provincial Councils in all the provinces of Sri Lanka. With these elections, the merger between the Northern and Eastern Provinces became a reality and the institutional framework for greater autonomy for the Tamils of Sri Lanka was in place. The Government of Sri Lanka also passed the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution giving Tamil equal status as an official language along with Sinhala. Earlier, legislative action had been taken to end the vexing problem of citizenship for Tamils of Indian origin in the Central Highlands. With the establishment of near normal conditions the displaced persons continued to return to their homes. More than 34,000 Tamil refugees have returned to Sri Lanka from India since the signing of the Indo- Sri Lanka Agreement.

With these developments, the desire of all sections of Sri Lankan society for a returrn to peace and normalcy became more and more apparent. Despite LTTE's threats of violence against anyone participating in the Provincial Council elections, and their calls for a boycott of these polls, an overwhelming number of Tamil voters turned out to vote for peace and harmony. The commitment of the people of Sri Lanka to democratic norms was again demonstrated in the Presidential elections in December 1988. These developments enabled the government to start with drawing some elements of the Indian Peace Keeping Force. If this encouraging trend is maintained in the coming year, it should be possible to continue the process of a phased withdrawal of the IPKF."

The process of withdrawal of the IPKF in Sri Lanka affected India in more ways than one.

With the subsequent fall of the EPRLF led Government of the North Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, internecine rivalries among the various Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups again came into sharp focus.

Fresh hostilities between the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the LTTE led to another influx of refugees in India.

The LTTE activities in Tamil Nadu increased substantially and their impact was felt even among common people. The developments in Sri Lanka as well as political developments in India resulted in a violent period of increased activities in India of Sri Lankan Tamil militants, which has been subsequently dealt with.

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