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Sri Lanka raising LTTE bogey yet again?

[Hindu, Monday, 2 April 2012 08:11 No Comment]

About 150 terrorists, trained in India, have landed in Sri Lankan shores in the garb of fishermen to destabilise the country, The Island newspaper reported on Monday, quoting Sri Lankan state intelligence.

“State intelligence services have received information that around 150 terrorists who underwent a special arms training at three secret camps in Tamil Nadu, have returned to Sri Lanka and are hiding in the North and the East to carryout a destabilisation campaign,” the newspaper reported. “Their target was to sabotage and disrupt the on-going reconciliation process by creating in those areas, police sources said. Their activities came to light when three LTTE cadres taken into custody after an Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) member was hacked to death in Trincomalee were interrogated,” the newspaper added.

The suspects had confessed that they had fled to India after LTTE’s defeat, and “followed military courses in secret locations in Tamil Nadu before returning to Sri Lanka, disguised as fishermen to conduct clandestine operations…The intelligence services suspect that they may have been behind several killings reported from the North and the East.”

“As the LTTE links of the three suspects were established, they have been handed over to the Terrorist Investigation Department, sources said. Near the body of the slain EPDP member, a leaflet had been left and it read: ‘Death to traitors. We have come back – LTTE,’” the newspaper reported.

Another newspaper, The Daily Mirror, said that “investigations are underway to ascertain if the three suspects arrested in connection with the recent killing of an EPDP member in Kuchchaveli, were former LTTE members.”

The newspaper also claimed that Sri Lankan President did not discuss the implementation of the 13th Amendment plus with Indian Foreign Minister S.M.Krishna, when the two met in Colombo in January this year. At an interaction with the country’s editors at Temple Trees on January 30, 2012, Mr. Rajapaksa “denied that he ever told India [this],” the newspaper reported on January 31.

The fishermen angle

The Island story claiming that the ‘terrorists’ had sneaked into the country disguised as fishermen is ominous for Tamil Nadu fishermen, who routinely crossover the International Maritime Boundary Line for fishing. Already eight fishermen are in Sri Lankan custody with no hope of an early release.

While three – who came to Sri Lanka in one boat – have admitted to have carried “something without their knowledge,” it’s the case of the other five that is an indicator of the line Sri Lanka will take when it comes to Indian fishing vessel crossing into Sri Lankan waters, notwithstanding an agreement to repatriate them at the earliest.

The five were arrested on the night of November 28, 2011, and the Sri Lankan Navy, sources said, accuses them of acting fishy mid-sea, in Sri Lankan waters. How the Sri Lankan Navy saw this – in the night without multiple searchlights and overhead air support remains a question that no one has asked so far. Sources said that the Navy further claimed to have recovered a suspicious package from the boat and the court, which had remanded them, had sent these for analysis. The five are still in jail, and it appears that they will be charged for procession of narcotics. A fishermen association team that came from Rameswaram, hoping to secure an early release, went back empty handed.

[Full Coverage]

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