Is ISI helping LTTE to make a comeback in South India? NIA thinks so
Over 13 years after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was disbanded by the Sri Lankan government, it is believed to be making attempts to revive itself by generating funds through drugs and arms supplies in South India, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has said.
LTTE, the terror group which has been extinct in Tamil Nadu and South India for decades, is reportedly involved in drug peddling in cahoots with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. The latter is supposedly helping to revive the LTTE, the NIA said, days after it arrested 9 Sri Lankan nationals from the special camp for Tamil refugees at Tiruchirappalli for their alleged involvement in the smuggling of drugs and arms.
Revealing its investigations, the NIA said that the case pertains to the activities of a Sri Lankan drug mafia controlled by C Gunashekharan alias Guna and Pushparajah alias Pookutti Kanna, the Sri Lankan nationals based in Chennai, in association with Haji Salim, a drug and arms supplier based in Pakistan. Haji Salim has been operating in India and Sri Lanka in illegal drugs and arms for the revival of LTTE in India and Sri Lanka, it alleged. Sources said it is known that Pakistan’s ISI has been planning to strengthen terrorism in South India.
The drugs, which included heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, opium, norco, contin, percocet, codeine etc, were brought from Sri Lanka to the Tamil Nadu coast, sources added. Since the borders at Gujarat, Kashmir and Punjab are watched by defence forces, the Tamil Nadu coast is the best place to supply drugs from Sri Lanka, sources added.
Interestingly, one accused is a resident of Bengaluru and the NIA is investigating his links across the country. The NIA said that there are several LTTE sympathisers, who may have links with the drug peddlers crossing the borders.
The arrested settled in Chennai, Bengaluru and Sri Lanka in connection with illegal drug and arms sales. In the interrogation of these suspects, it is revealed that the ISI organization is using Tamil nationalism to keep the LTTE organization active again and is trying to strengthen the organization in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.
The nine who got caught
The nine Sri Lankans arrested from Trichy Special Camp have been identified as C. Gunashekharan alias Guna alias Prem Kumar, Pushparajah alias Pookutti Kanna, Mohammad Asmin, Alahapperumaga Sunil Ghamini Fonseaa alias Kottaghamini alias Sunil Ghamini alias NeelakandanS, tanly Kennady Fernando alias Ezhilon alias Bumma alias Kisan, Vella Suranka alias Gamage Suranga Pradeep alias Surang, Thilipan alias Dileepan.
The NIA said the LTTE is trying to evolve in Sri Lanka and Southern states, mainly Tamil Nadu. According to sources, the accused who was arrested in Bengaluru, revealed that there are thousands of LTTE sympathisers and followers in the Tamil Nadu coast and Sri Lanka. But, after it was destroyed and its leader V Prabhakaran and the team were killed in military operations by the Sri Lankan government in 2009, they wanted new leadership.
The recently released six convicts in former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassination case have good following among LTTE sympathisers. The NIA is looking at that angle and interrogating the accused of having any connections with the released persons.
An IB source said that China has a sufficient hold on the Sri Lankan coast and it wants to help LTTE to develop its base in South India, too. And the NIA is interrogating the accused from that angle too, sources added.
For the past two years, the LTTE has been conducting secret operations to become active again, sources said. However, investigative agencies arrested former activists. In their investigation, it has come to light that some persons in Denmark and other countries have often unsuccessfully tried to get money and use it for LTTE activities.
In addition, when Sri Lankan Mere Francisca was arrested and interrogated in Chennai recently, it was found that the money he had was used by the LTTE. Based on all this information, ISI has decided to attract youth from rural areas in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka to revive the LTTE organisation in South India, the NIA claimed. Sources in the agency revealed that the LTTE is using some private organisations to organise workshops to convince them that it is related to Tamil nationalism.
NIA sources said that the drugs and arms have been coming from Pakistan to Sri Lanka and entering India by sea routes, adding that the money from such illegal earnings was being given to former LTTE activists in Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu.
The Bengaluru connection
Meanwhile, it has come to light that one of the suspects, Alahapperumaga Sunil Gamini, had been living in Bangalore’s HSR layout for a few months. The accused was arrested in Chennai later. The investigating agency is verifying his background about who he was in contact with.
On the other hand, these former LTTE fundamentalists (sleeper cells) are still active in Bengaluru, the NIA claimed. The investigating agencies have started collecting information in this regard as there is a suspicion that the accused has been contacted by someone.