Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Accountability issues of a different kind

Who purchased, paid duty for LTTE radio equipment?




By Shamindra Ferdinando

Veteran NGO activist, Dr. Kumar Rupesinghe reacted strongly to former Norwegian peace facilitator Erik Solheim’s recent declaration that he would go before a UN team tasked with probing atrocities committed during eelam war IV (August 2006-May 2009).

One-time darling of the Norwegians, Dr. Rupesinghe asserted that a genuine peace facilitator would never have done that. In a special article headlined Erik Solheim, a disgruntled peacemaker? published in the Op-Ed of the June 13th edition of The Island, Dr. Rupesinghe warned that such a course of action would be inimical to Norwegian role as a peacemaker.

The probe ordered by the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in accordance with a US-led resolution adopted at the last sessions in Geneva in late March, will get underway early next month under the supervision of British national Sandra Beidas, formerly of the Amnesty International. As the UN team has received a ‘mandate’ to inquire into the period from Feb 2002 to May 2009, the Norwegian role too, would come under scrutiny.

Solheim, presently Chair of the Development Assistance Committee in the USA, is also on record as having said that he along with a colleague, Vidar Helgesen, one-time Secretary of State, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs intend to launch a book on the Sri Lankan conflict. Helgesen was one of those present at the inauguration of direct talks between Sri Lanka and the LTTE at Sattahip, Thailand, on September 16, 2002.

Solheim said that they would launch a book early next year to explain the Norwegian role in Sri Lanka. The book is authored by Mark Salter, a longtime speechwriter and adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

Now that Solheim had announced his intention to establish Sri Lanka’s accountability before Ms Sandra Beidas-led team and launch a book along with Helgesen it would be pertinent to examine longtime Norwegian role in Sri Lanka. Due to negligence on the part of the government, Norway as well as other countries which had been involved in domestic affairs here engaged in actions seriously inimical to the country. The government pathetically failed to counter propaganda in spite of a section of the media exposing lies propagated by those supportive of the LTTE’s eelam project. Had the government scrutinized Norwegian funded propaganda, it could have easily unmasked some of those propagating lies. The acquisition of expensive radio equipment at the onset of the Norwegian-led peace process was a case in point. Let me examine different views expressed by Solheim, Bradman Weerakoon, the then Secretary to the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as well as Dr. John Gooneratne, the then Deputy Director General of the Peace Secretariat.

Solheim and Weerakoon gave two entirely different versions as regards the importation of radio equipment in February, 2006 almost three years after the event in Negotiating Peace in Sri Lanka (Efforts, Failures and Lessons-Volume II) edited by Dr. Rupesinghe, the then Chairman of The Foundation for Co-Existence. According to Dr. Rupesinghe, the project received the financial backing of the Norwegian government, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Berghof Foundation for Conflict Studies. The NGO guru profusely thanked Norbert Ropers, the then Director of the Berghof Foundation, Sri Lanka office for his contribution.

Interestingly, the then International Development Minister Solheim, in a wide ranging interview with Dr. Rupesinghe discussed the contentious issue of the LTTE acquiring radio equipment. Let me reproduce Dr. Rupesinghe’s query verbatim to ensure that there is absolutely no misinterpretation of facts.

Dr. Rupesinghe and Solheim

on LTTE radio

Dr. Rupesinghe: A concerted effort has been made by the media to discredit the role played by Norway as facilitator. How would account for this perception? Example: Norway has been criticized for handling the transmission equipment for the LTTE. The lack of impartiality is another criticism. Some suggest that Norway is biased towards the LTTE, going so far as to provide training for them in Norway. Can you comment on these allegations and also can you say what steps are you taking to address these misconceptions?

Responding to Dr. Rupesinghe’s ‘full-toss’, Solheim accused Sri Lankan journalists of authoring what he called spectacular stories without any basis to sell newspapers. Having ridiculed the local media, Solheim asserted that the mainstream Indian media would never have done intentionally. The writer extensive dealt with the Indian media as regards the Tamil Nadu support for Tamil terrorism during the past few weeks. Solheim declared that the Indian media would immediately correct if they published some wrong story, though the same couldn’t be said about the Sri Lankan media. Referring to the controversial importation of radio equipment, Solheim said that Norway assisted the operation at the specific request of the Sri Lankan government. Solheim said: "Our role was to provide customs clearance; the government of Sri Lanka had purchased the equipment. The government wanted the LTTE to have this equipment as it was felt that the LTTE needed it to inform its community about the various aspects of the peace negotiations. I do not think our decision to accede to that request was a mistake."

Solheim’s claim that the then government of Premier Wickremesinghe had paid for radio equipment for the LTTE was significant. In fact, the Norwegian’s claim should be examined in the backdrop of an article titled Initiating and Sustaining the Peace Process: Origins and Challenges by Premier’s Secretary Bradman Weerakoon in the book edited by Dr. Rupesinghe. Among the contributors were the then Defence Secretary Austin Fernando, chief of government negotiators Prof. G.L. Peiris, chief of truce monitoring mission Hagrup Haukland, peace secretariat chief Bernard A.B. Goonetilleke and top Indian journalist N. Ram.

Having called the installation of new radio equipment in the Vanni as a confidence building measure, Weerakoon revealed that the LTTE had informed Premier Wickremesinghe’s office of acquisition of brand new FM transmitter and its intention to bring it in to the country. The letter dated Oct 1, 2002 had been signed by S. Pulithevan of the so-called political wing. Obviously, Solheim and Weerakoon contradicted each other. Who was telling the truth? Did Premier Wickremesinghe’s government really purchase equipment for the LTTE as Solheim claimed in an interview with Dr. Rupesinghe? If so, why Weerakoon lied? Perhaps, Solheim’s forthcoming book can set the record straight

Weerakoon in addition to being the Secretary to the Premier functioned as the Commissioner General for Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation aka ‘Triple R project.’

Weerakoon also revealed that the equipment was on the way by sea at the time Premier Wickremesinghe’s office received Pulithevan’s letter. Pulithevan was seeking the government’s endorsement as well as swift clearance of the cargo in his capacity as the Secretary General of the LTTE peace secretariat. Weerakoon went to the extent of revealing that the equipment purchased in Singapore had cost the LTTE US $ 111,265 as well as the circumstances leading to the installation of equipment in Kilinochchi. While appreciating the LTTE’s requirement to upgrade its broadcasting capabilities, Weerakoon lambasted a section of the media for undermining the peace process. Weerakoon said: "The media too was largely ambivalent. There were several media men and women, including one or two editors of mainline newspapers themselves, who regularly questioned the wisdom of embarking on a path which would inevitably end up in changing the nature of Sri Lankan polity."

The Island earned the wrath of the likes of Weerakoon who believed our reportage of the Norwegian led peace process undermined the initiative. The UNP, while giving in to the LTTE’s bid to strengthen its propaganda machinery, adopted a strategy meant to silence the military. Wickremesinghe’s government blocked the release of daily situation reports within weeks after the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) agreement came into operation on February 23, 2002 (Incidents continue in East but no situation reports-The Island April 5, 2002). The LTTE also moved swiftly to block the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) run newspaper, Thinamurasu, a Tamil weekly severely critical of the LTTE’s conduct (LTTE bans EPDP’s Thinamurasu-The Island April 5, 2002). Then the shocking closure of the long standing Vavuniya-based radio service especially set up for the benefit of the armed forces and police (Wanni Sevaya closed down-The Island April 7, 2002). The operation came to a close on March 31, 2002. Although, the military appealed against the move, the Wickremesinghe government ignored the plea (Military wants Wanni Sevaya restored-The Island April 19, 2002). The UNP never challenged The Island reports.

Weerakoon made another significant statement as regards the importation of radio equipment. The premier’s Secretary Weerakoon claimed that the government duty amounting to Rs. 3 mn utilizing funds made available to the peace secretariat by the Norwegian government. According to him, Norway provided Rs 12 mn annually for the operation of the peace secretariat. Solheim never uttered a word about Norwegians funds being utilized by the Sri Lankan government to pay duty on behalf of a terrorist group. The then Opposition People’s Alliance (PA) as well as the JVP though being critical of the government cooperating with the LTTE to bring in new radio equipment, never closely examined the transaction. Had that happened, they would have realized the enormity of a deal that undermined the very basis of national security. But for want of a cohesive strategy, the opposition never got down to a comprehensive investigation even after returning to power in April 2004. Sadly even five years after the conclusion of the conflict the situation remains the same that there hadn’t been a proper investigation. The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) is irrelevant as regards the war and the rapid expansion of the LTTE following the signing of the CFA.

Dr. Gooneratne writes to Charitha Ratwatte

The then Deputy Director General of the peace secretariat, Dr. John Gooneratne in January 2004 contradicted both Solheim as well as Weerakoon as regards the payment of duty on behalf of the LTTE for the imported communication equipment. In a letter dated January 16, 2004 addressed to Treasury Chief J. Charitha Ratwatte, Dr. Gooneratne requested the latter to reimburse Rs. 3,157,675 duty paid by the peace secretariat to the Customs for the LTTE cargo. Dr. Gooneratne reminded Ratwatte that the peace secretariat utilised funds received from Sweden through premier Wickremesinghe’s office to make the payment on the promise the Treasury would immediately reimburse the amount. Dr. Gooneratne plainly contradicted Weerakoon’s claim that the Treasury had taken a tough position on accommodating the LTTE’s request for duty free privilege. According to Dr. Gooneratne, Treasury chief himself had offered to reimburse the money paid by the peace secretariat on behalf of the LTTE.

The bottom line is we are still not certain whether the actual payment was made utilizing Norwegian funds as Weerakoon claimed or Swedish funds as revealed by Dr. Gooneratne. Solheim had been silent on this issue. But the most interesting factor is perhaps whether the Treasury reimbursed the peace secretariat. Had that happened, the Sri Lankan taxpayer, including those struggling to make ends meet had contributed to the LTTE build-up.

Could anything be as ridiculous as the government paying for the LTTE’s equipment (remember Solheim claimed the Sri Lankan government procured radio equipment for the LTTE) at a time the UNP claimed it didn’t have money to buy even shoes and guns for the military. Defence Secretary Austin Fernando alleged that the government didn’t have the wherewithal to provide even the basic equipment to armed forces. Fernando, who had absolutely no experience in managing the military previously, painted a pathetic picture before the LLRC.

The then government paid various duties on behalf of the LTTE while depriving the armed forces of vital supplies. The following letter signed by S. Pulithevan of the LTTE peace secretariat is self-explanatory. The full letter dated January 26, 2004:

Mr. Bradman Weerakoon

Secretary to the Prime Minister

Prime Minister’s Office

Colombo 07

Dear Sir

Purchase of six Nos. 4 WD double cab vehicles

I write to acknowledge with thanks your letter dated 20th January, 2004

We sincerely thank Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister for having approved the purchase of six more 4WD Double Cab Vehicles for the LTTE peace secretariat. 

We have already paid to M/s Toyota Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd Rs. 9,963,954/-being the CIF value and other charges. THE CUSTOMS DUTY, SURCHARGE, EXCISE DUTY, PAL,VAT AND BTT IS TO BE PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA AS DONE EARLIER. (emphasis mine).

Please be good enough to make the necessary arrangements for these payments. Enclosed herewith is a copy of the receipt issued by M/s Toyota Lanka Pvt (Ltd).

Please convey our sincere gratitude to the Hon. Prime Minister and we hope to achieve together a durable solution to our problem.

S. Pulithevan

Secretary General

LTTE Peace Secretariat

The idiotic UNP leadership never realized that the LTTE didn’t require so many brand new vehicles for its peace secretariat. The UNP and the Norwegians continued to mollycoddle the LTTE even after Velupillai Prabhakaran quit the negotiating process in April 2003. The transaction on six Nos of 4 WD vehicles was an example. The deal was made over eight months after the LTTE withdrew from the peace process. Solheim’s forthcoming book can shed light on many contentious matters.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

How Tamil Nadu lifeline prolonged war

Shocking Norwegian link with Dalit Panthers



The LTTE displays an artillery piece in Kilinochchi during the Norwegian arranged ceasefire (Feb 2002-April 2003)

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Two pairs of Inshore Patrol Craft (IPCs) intercepted two LTTE craft north of Talaimannar on the evening of July 28, 2007. The confrontation took place well within Sri Lankan territorial waters. The IPCs swung into action soon after the enemy craft moved across the Indo-Lanka maritime boundary, alongside a cluster of Tamil Nadu fishing trawlers poaching in Sri Lankan waters. At the time of the incursion, there had been at least two Indian naval vessels deployed in the area. Having spotted the LTTE craft among the poaching Tamil Nadu craft numbering about 60, the IPCs blocked the cluster. The navy used loud hailers to order the poachers to return to Indian waters, forcing the LTTE craft to move away from the cluster and speed towards Vidathalthivu, a strong point north of Mannar (The then Brigadier Shavendra Silva’s formation tasked with clearing the coastal region up to Pooneryn was several months away from Vidathalthivu). The navy believed that the fishing fleet was providing cover to the LTTE craft moving from Tamil Nadu to the Vanni. Although the LTTE fired two rounds of rocket propelled grenades as well as a light machine gun, the navy destroyed both, killing at least six men. The dead included a senior cadre who had lost a leg during a previous confrontation with the military. The navy believed that some of them took cyanide to avoid being captured (Sea Tigers among Tamil Nadu fishing fleet with strap line Senior cadre among six killed in SLN operation-The Island July 30, 2007).

The widely circulated Dinakaran, affiliated to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s DMK, alleged that the SLN had targeted the LTTE craft off Dhanuskody at the Indo-Lanka maritime boundary.

It was the first major confrontation since Indian and Sri Lankan naval representatives met on July 13, 2007, on-board SLNS Sayura close to the Indo-Lanka maritime boundary. The delegations were led by the then Northern Naval Commander, Rear Admiral S.R. Samaratunga and Commodore Van Holtern, the senior officer in charge of Tamil Nadu. The SLN called for increased cooperation between the two countries to prevent the LTTE from using Indian waters as well as the Tamil Nadu fishing fleet for its advantage. The meeting took place in the backdrop of two serious atrocities committed by the LTTE, namely the massacre of a group of fishermen from Kanyakumari and the seizure of Sri Krishna, a Tamil Nadu trawler along with its 12-man crew (Indo-Lanka naval delegations meet on-board SLNS Sayura-The Island July 16, 2007). The previous article dealt with the Kanyakumari massacre as well as the seizure of Sri Krishna leading to its destruction in the Maldivian waters.

Eelam war IV lasted nearly three years (August 2006-May 2009). Had there been a genuine Indian effort to prevent the LTTE using Tamil Nadu as a weapons transit point, the group would have collapsed much earlier. Lives of combatants on both sides as well as civilians could have been saved if India took tangible action against the LTTE-Tamil Nadu project. Those demanding President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government to address accountability issues or face a high profile international probe turned a blind eye to Indian complicity. Unfortunately, the government is yet to take up the contentious issue of Indian support to terrorism, though presidential secretary Lalith Weeratunga referred to the Indian role in Sri Lanka (July 1987-March 1990), during a costly campaign in the US ahead of the 25th session of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council last March. Had India deprived the LTTE of a safe haven in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka could have crushed the enemy much earlier. In fact, the LTTE wouldn’t have procured such a massive load of weapons if the group didn’t have the wherewithal to transfer arms, ammunition and equipment to its bases in the Vanni. In spite of detections made by the SLN, the LTTE continued with the operation with the blessings of the state government of Tamil Nadu. The main opposition the AIADMK led by Jeyaram Jayalalithaa too, turned a blind eye to what was happening.

The Centre facilitated the Tamil Nadu project. Having met Karunanidhi on May 31, 2007, the then Indian National Security Advisor Mayankote Kelath Narayan declared: "Fishermen are going there (Sri Lankan waters) for their livelihood. We have told the SLN not to fire at them and they assured us there will be no firing. By and large they are adhering to this. Fishermen will go wherever there are fish. To prevent them from crossing the Indo-Lanka maritime boundary is asking for too much," (Narayan’s ‘chandi’ talk spurs poaching in Lankan waters-The Island June 20, 2007).

In late July 2007, Tamil Nadu fishermen found two rounds of 120 mm mortars which had probably fallen overboard during a mid sea arms transfer carried out by the LTTE in Indian waters. The chance recovery made about 15 nautical miles off Uvary highlighted the use of Indian waters for an operation directly targeting neighbouring Sri Lanka. The bombs, each weighing 20-25 kgs had been neatly packed in wooden boxes. The fishermen had opened the boxes at Chinnamuttam port. Indian fishermen found three 120 mm mortars on Dec 5, 11, 2006. The bombs got entangled in fishing nets, hence the recovery. At the behest of Tamil Nadu politicians, a section of the media alleged that the two 120 mm mortars had been brought to blow up the Kudankulam power station, which was under construction at that time time. A section of the Indian media continued to shield the LTTE arms smuggling operation, though being exposed on several occasions (TN fishermen ‘net’ 120 mm ‘ammo’ with strap line Recovery highlights use of Indian waters for arms transfers-The Island August 1, 2007).

Although the Tamil Nadu police made some important detections, including 1,500 kgs of gelex boosters used in mines (near Madurai in November 2006) and two tons of steel ball bearings (in Chennai in January 2007) meant for the LTTE, the Tamil Nadu administration refused to crackdown on terrorism. The DMK conveniently ignored the revelation made by the ‘Q’ branch of the Indian police regarding the use of Indian waters as well as some Tamil Nadu trawlers by the LTTE for arms smuggling. It confirmed what the SLN had been saying throughout eelam war IV.

No less a person than the then navy chief, Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda pointed out the pivotal importance of breaking the Tamil Nadu link when he declared that interrogation of four LTTE cadres rescued from sinking the Tamil Nadu trawler Sri Krishna led to the successful attacks on three floating LTTE arsenal over 600 nautical miles south-east of Sri Lanka during the second week of September 2007. Addressing the media at the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS), Karannagoda said that LTTE cadres in Maldivian custody identified two of the three targeted vessels. The navy chief revealed that those in custody knew of the cargo as they had boarded the vessels before they ran into the Maldivian Coast Guard on May 16, 2007. Sri Krishna, carrying a large consignment of 120 mm mortars was on its way to Sri Lanka when the Maldivian Coast Guard intercepted the vessel (Sea Tigers in Maldivian custody facilitated SLN attack-The Island September 13, 2007). Among the LTTE cargo weighing approximately 4,000 tonnes, were aircraft in knock-down condition, speed boats, a bullet proof vehicle for LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran and a large quantity of 152 mm, 130 mm and 122 mm artillery shells and 120 mm mortars. US intelligence services too, confirmed the presence of the three vessels as well as MV Matsushima which was sunk next month).

Although the then army chief, Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka constantly played down the navy’s efforts and in some instances went to the extent of ridiculing the service, the navy continued planned operations. The war veteran, undoubtedly Sri Lanka’s most successful commander, steadfastly refused to acknowledge the significant role played by the navy in depriving the LTTE of required ammunition. The LTTE felt a serious shortage of ammunition in mid 2007 due curbs on LTTE boat movements across the Indo-Lanka maritime boundary (SLN steps up pressure on LTTE ‘Gulf of Mannar’ supply line with strap line Coastline under LTTE control shrinks-The Island September 24, 2007).

The navy sent the floating LTTE warehouse, MV Matsushima to the bottom of the high seas off Indonesia over 800 nautical miles off Sri Lanka’s southern coast on October 7, 2007. Widely believed to be the largest of the eight rogue ships operated by the LTTE, MV Matsushima, carried electronic warfare equipment, among other armaments and equipment. The loss of the entire fleet of floating warehouse significantly reduced the workload of the LTTE units tasked with transferring arms to the Vanni (Last of LTTE’s original fleet sunk with strap line EU referred to LTTE fleet in its resolution-The Island October 8, 2007). Although the LTTE had retained the wherewithal to transfer weapons, the absence of floating warehouse significantly reduced the workload of special units assigned for arms smuggling operations. The loss of floating warehouses left these units with the responsibility of transferring whatever armaments and ammunition that had been already moved to Tamil Nadu or what could be procured in India. The navy had no option but to maintain a presence to block supply routes to Mannar mainland as well as Mullaitivu-Chalai on the other side. With the liberation of Pooneryn in November 2008, the LTTE lost its Mannar supply route, though the Mullaitivu-Chalai entry/exit point remained until January/February 2009.

During the second week of October 2007, the navy made an important detection following a confrontation off Talaimannar. Having spotted two fibre glass dinghies heading towards Vidathalthivu shortly after they crossed the Indo-Lanka maritime boundary, the navy zeroed-in-on them. Among items found on the boats were two ultra light model aircraft, including one of Taiwanese make five and half feet in length with a wing span of 13 feet, four communication sets, fifteen cans of hydraulic oil, four satellite mobile phones, ten global positioning systems and one hundred printed circuit boards. The detection was made in the backdrop of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to India (Navy seizes Tiger plane from Tamil Nadu as MR leaves for India-The Island October 12, 2007). Although the navy subsequently sought Indian assistance to identify what it initially believed was hydraulic oil, the request was ignored.

The navy believed the ultra model aircraft could have been used to deliver a small payload targeting military assets or deployed for surveillance missions.

In spite of the DMK’s efforts to protect the LTTE, a chance detection made in Tamil Nadu exposed the shocking involvement of Norway based LTTE operatives in the supply network. The seized equipment included propellers and spares for powerful OBMs used in Sea Tiger craft. Much to the embarrassment of the Tamil Nadu administration, the recipient of the consignment was identified as Jayaraj Rathinam alias Vanni Arasu (36 at that time), editor of Tamil Mann (Tamil soil), the party organ of Dalit Panthers. The suspect was granted bail due to political pressure. The exposure embarrassed the Norwegians and their mission in Colombo remained silent. Their plan was to bring in equipment from Noway and re-direct them across the Gulf of Mannar. Intelligence services identified the Norway based LTTE agent as Gokulan. Even five years after the conclusion of the conflict, it would be pertinent to establish whether the person identified as Gokulan was an associate of Norway based Perinpanayagam Sivaparan alias Nediyawan widely believed to be in charge of a major LTTE faction. The close political relationship between the Dalit Panthers and the ruling DMK fueled speculation that the former was assisting the LTTE with the tacit understanding of Chief Minister Karunanidhi (Tamil Nadu-Norway supply route to the LTTE’s rescue with strap line Lanka seeks Indian help to identify chemicals recovered from Sea Tigers-The Island October 18, 2007).

Regardless of constant efforts to discourage the Tamil Nadu fishing fleet from poaching in Sri Lankan waters, it continued operations. In some instances, Tamil Nadu trawlers entered high security zones, causing a serious threats to naval movements. During the first week of November large clusters of Tamil Nadu trawlers reached Vettilaikerni waters and moved almost ten nautical miles close to LTTE positions on land. It was their first major foray into Mullaitivu waters since December 2005. Although the LTTE was on the retreat on multiple fronts in the Vanni region, it retained strong forces east of the Kandy-Jaffna A 9 road, as well as Pooneryn, Elephant Pass, Paranthan as well as Kilinochchi (Lanka urges India to stop ‘fishing in troubled’ waters-The Island November 6, 2007). The navy feared the LTTE could use Indian boats as a cover to mount attacks on its assets.

Sri Lanka took delivery of a US built radar-based maritime surveillance system and rigid hull inflatable boats in early 2007. The then US ambassador here, Robert O’Blake handed over the equipment worth USD 11 million at the strategic Trincomalee navy base. Had the US made available the equipment about a year earlier, it could have played a vital role (US boost to thwart Tiger arsenal replenishment efforts-The Island November 9, 2007.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

From Kanyakumari massacre to sinking of Sri Krishna in Maldivian waters



Chennai, May 19, 2007: Sri Krishna crew members air their woes to the then Chief Minister Karunanidhi. The LTTE transferred them from the Vanni mainland to Tamil Nadu immediately after the Maldivian Coast Guard sunk Sri Krishna, commandeered by a special squad of Sea Tigers. Among those rescued by the Maldivians, was Simon Soza, ‘Sri Krishna’s’ skipper.

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The DMK secured Southern Tamil Nadu State at the May 2006 election, as the LTTE was preparing for an all out war in Sri Lanka. The LTTE leadership needed a sea route to ensure a steady supply of arms, ammunition and equipment to its fighting cadre deployed in northern and eastern Sri Lanka. In fact, the success of the LTTE’s war effort primarily depended on its ability to sustain an uninterrupted sea supply route, though at one point it built at least two big runways in the Vanni east to accommodate large transport aircraft. The bid to use transport aircraft never materialized.

An attempt to assassinate Army chief, the then Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka in late May 2006 was meant to demoralize the armed forces, including the navy, which was given the unenviable task of stopping arms shipments.

The LTTE had no option but to utilize the Tamil Nadu fishing fleet to transfer weapons from floating LTTE warehouses on the high seas to the Vanni across the Indo-Lanka maritime boundary. The LTTE had the then Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s blessings to go ahead with its operation, therefore the group didn’t expect serious trouble from the Indian Coast Guard or law enforcement authorities. Karunanidhi bent backwards to assist the LTTE project. The Indian National Congress failed to take tangible measures to thwart LTTE operations, though it knew of the DMK’s involvement with the LTTE. The Congress permitted the Tamil Nadu operation to continue.

The navy not only had to stop arms smuggling, but counter TN/LTTE propaganda as well. The navy faced an extremely difficult task. With the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), receiving a mandate to investigate the conflict during the Feb 2002-May 2009 period, it would be pertinent to discuss a series of events in early 2007. These events can shed light on the complicity on the part of Tamil Nadu in terrorism as well as the Centre’s failure to tackle the situation. India prolonged the conflict in Sri Lanka. The people of Tamil Nadu too, suffered due to the DMK’s contentious policy. ‘The Island’ coverage of the events taking place on the ground as well as out at sea during that period would never have been a reality without the then navy spokesman Captain D.K.P. Dassanayake’s perceptions. The two previous articles too, focused on the Tamil Nadu factor, with this piece being the third and perhaps the most significant of all. Had it not been for his efforts, perhaps, there wouldn’t have been the required coverage of events taking place rapidly out at sea, beginning early March 2007. A close examination of the circumstances under which those events took place revealed the existence of the high profile link between Tamil Nadu and the LTTE.

Karunanidhi seeks Singh’s intervention

Karunanidhi sought the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention in late March 2007 in the wake of an attack on a Tamil Nadu fishing craft about 35 nautical miles off Kanyakumari, well within Indian territorial waters. In a letter dated March 31, 2007, addressed to PM Singh, Karunanidhi alleged: "... an unidentified group of attackers opened fire on a Tamil Nadu fishing boat." Karunanidhi was referring to the killing of five Tamil Nadu fishermen on March 29, 2007. Quoting a fisherman who had survived the attack, the Tamil Nadu leader said that two boats, which approached the ill-fated boat from "the Sri Lankan side and without any provocation or warning, indiscriminately opened fire on the Indian boat. All the attackers numbering about 20 were youngsters either bare bodied or in casual dress."

Karunanidhi made several allegations as well as recommendations to Premier Singh. The veteran politician warned Premier Singh that unless some stern measures were taken by the Centre to make Indian waters safe, the situation was likely to get out of control. Alleging that a third party might have carried out the attack attack, Karunanidhi urged Singh to establish the identity of attacks as well as their international connections. He also called for enhanced Indian Navy and Coast Guard presence in the Tamil Nadu seas and to bring the entire naval effort under a unified command. The Sri Lankan navy strongly denied the Tamil Nadu leader’s claims, made in the wake of a section of the Indian media accusing the SLN of the massacre. When the SLN strongly countered the Indian media reports, Karunanidhi made a ridiculous attempt to assert that some smugglers with international links might have killed the fishermen. The SLN insisted that there was no basis for claims that there was a third party operating in the sea.

‘A third party’ blamed for killing 16 Chinese nationals

Interestingly, on the day of the Kanyakumari massacre, there had been a high level SLN delegation in New Delhi. The delegation responded to what SLN headquarters called was unfounded allegation. The SLN recalled how the Norwegian-led Scandinavian truce monitoring mission accused an unknown third party of attacking a Chinese fishing vessel about 22 nautical miles north of Mullaitivu on March 19, 2003. The attackers mowed down 16 Chinese and two Sri Lankans on ‘FU Yuan YU 225’. The monitoring mission asserted that neither the LTTE nor the Sri Lankan government could have carried out the attack. Although those who had survived the attack as well as the crew of another Chinese vessel also operating in the area told the mission of the LTTE’s culpability, chief of monitors, retired Major General Tryggve Tellefsen requested the government and the LTTE to find, disarm and arrest ‘criminal elements’ operating on their own. Both the truce monitoring mission and the Tamil Nadu administration went out of their way to protect the LTTE. Their approach towards terrorism baffled many (Lanka challenges bid to shield Tigers with strap line Killing of five Tamil Nadu fishermen-The Island, April 5, 2007).

A chance detection exposes TN-LTTE conspiracy

The Indian Coast Guard made a crucial but chance breakthrough on April 11, 2007. Having spotted two ‘vallams’ 26.5 nautical miles southeast of Kanyakumari, a Coast Guard vessel had ordered them to stop. It was among nine ships backed by three maritime aircraft engaged in a special operation in the wake of the Kanyakumari massacre, on March 29, 2007. The Coast Guard swiftly apprehended the ‘vallams’ and took 12 persons into custody. A section of the Chennai based media quickly identified the arrested persons as armed Sinhala men. The widely read Dinakaran, affiliated to the ruling DMK, on a front-page report declared that 12 fishermen were in custody. But the arrested consisted of six Sri Lankan Tamils and six Tamil Nadu fishermen. The six Sri Lankans were identified as Arul Gnanadasan (20), C. Robin (23), S. Selvakumar (19), M. Pannibose (28), D. Arul (19) and Ravi Kumar (24). Under interrogation, the Indians claimed that they had no option but to rescue the Sri Lankans stranded off Kanyakumari in a trawler named ‘Maria.’ The Indian Coast Guard seized the two ‘vallams’ about 14 nautical miles away from the ‘Maria’ which also recovered by the same service.

India ignored an SLN request for an opportunity to interrogate the suspects, whom the service believed had been involved in the Kanyakumari massacre. The SLN strongly suspected that the six arrested Sri Lankan Tamils were LTTE cadres assigned for a special operation aimed at transferring armaments from the high seas to the Vanni via Indian waters. The Coast Guard detection and subsequent revelations embarrassed the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, though he pretended he wasn’t bothered at all (Indian Coast Guard seizes ‘Maria’, six Lankan Tamils-The Island April 16, 2007). Although India arrested several LTTE cadres during 2007, beginning with the apprehension of three persons along with two Indians on February 13, 2007 off Kodiyakarai, the SLN was never given an opportunity to question them (Lanka wants access to ‘terror’ suspects in Tamil Nadu custody-The Island April 19, 2007).

A significant ‘Q’ branch probe

In spite of the DMK’s attempts to whitewash the LTTE, the ‘Q’ branch of the Indian Criminal Investigation Department (CID), on April 27, 2007 accused the LTTE of carrying out the Kanyakumari massacre. The ‘Q’ branch asserted that the six Sri Lankans arrested in the company of Tamil Nadu men on April 11, 2007 were members of special Sea Tiger squads deployed to ferry arms, ammunition and equipment from an LTTE ship on the high seas. According to a two-page note issued by the then Tamil Nadu Director General of Police, the group in Indian custody was among the units given this task. The arrested persons claimed that members of another Sea Tiger squad carried out the Kanyakumari massacre, whereas the SLN believed the group in custody was responsible. The police chief said that the boat involved in the March 29, 2007 attack also bore the inscription ‘Maria.’

The ‘Q’ branch made another extremely important revelation into clandestine LTTE operations. The investigation resulted in one of the most important findings made during 2007, thanks to a chance detection made by the tiny Maldivian Coast Guard, a couple of weeks later. Under interrogation, those Sea Tiger cadres arrested on April 11, 2007, revealed that another squad had seized a large Indian fishing vessel, the Sri Krishna, on March 4, 2007 close to the Indo-Lanka maritime boundary. The seized vessel’s crew comprised 12 men-ten from Kanyakumari and one each from Thoothukudi and Kerala. The arrested persons claimed that the Sea Tigers commandeered the vessel after having transferred the crew in another craft to that the Vanni. The ‘Q’ branch made the revelation in the backdrop of some interested parties alleging the SLN of either seizing or destroyed the Sri Krishna (LTTE massacred Indian fishermen, seized large vessel with 12 men with strap line Tamil Nadu probe reveals-The Island April 29, 2007).

At one point, India sought the SLN help to locate the Sri Krishna, after Verkodu Visai Padahu Meenavar Sangam of Rameswaram asserted that it may have reached Kalpitiya waters.

LTTE Political Wing leader S. P. Thamilselvan accused the SLN of seizing Sri Krishna.

Rajya Sabha contradicts ‘Q’ branch

A humiliated Karunanidhi informed the State Assembly of the LTTE’s direct involvement in a spate of incidents. The DMK leader had no option but to acknowledge the LTTE’s complicity even in attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen. However, the opposition AIADMK didn’t make a big issue about it. Then much to the surprise of all, the Centre intervened on behalf the LTTE. No less a person than the then Defence Minister, A.K. Anthony, reiterated the hotly disputed charge that the SLN was continuing attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen in the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar. Anthony was responding on May 9, 2007 to a query raised by C. Perumal in the Rajya Sabha. Perumal was evidently acting at the behest of the LTTE lobby. Both Perumal’s question and Minister Anthony’s response had been probably prepared by the same party. Reporting a slight increase in such attacks in the recent past, Minister Anthony accused the SLN of killing 77 Tamil Nadu fishermen during the 1991-2007 period. India totally overlooked a spate of incidents as well as the findings made by the ‘Q’ branch. In an obvious bid to counter adverse reportage in a section of the Sri Lanka press, India’s Press Information Bureau released Minister Anthony’s statement headlined ‘Attack on Tamil Nadu fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy’ which dealt with measures taken by the navy and the Coast Guard. Sri Lanka strongly denied Indian claims alleging complicity on the part of some officials in the LTTE terror campaign (India shields Tigers despite compelling evidence of attacks on TN fishermen with strap line...overlooks Kanyakumari massacre, seizure of Sri Krishna with 12 men, castigates SLN in Rajya Sabha-The Island May 11, 2007).

Sinking of ‘Sri Krishna’

What Tamil Nadu as well as India never expected was another country intervening in the clandestine LTTE arms smuggling operation. That intervention was made by the Maldivian Coast Guard under extra-ordinary circumstances, on May 16, 2007. The Maldivian Coast Guard engaged a vessel carrying the Sri Lankan flag after the latter fired at a Maldivian fishing craft. Following a 12-hour stand off, the Maldivians sank the craft flying the Sri Lankan flag. Interestingly, there had been some Indian naval personnel onboard the Maldivian craft engaged in the operation. The Indian presence ensured that the Indian National Congress knew what exactly happened in Maldivian waters. The LTTE would never have expected those commandeering the vessel to surrender. The Maldivians rescued five persons who jumped overboard from the sinking vessel, subsequently identified as Sri Krishna. The rescued men told the Maldivians and their Indian instructors (The Indians were helping the Maldivian Coast Guard personnel to familiarize with CG vessel Huravee, gifted by New Delhi to Male) the circumstances under which they were found in Maldivian waters, while engaged in transferring armaments from a floating warehouse. Sri Krishna’s skipper, Simon Soza had been among the five rescued by the Maldivians. The Sea Tigers admitted that the remaining Indians were being held in a camp in the Vanni (Maldives sink Indian craft hijacked by Sea Tigers-The Island May 18, 2007).

The sinking of the Sri Krishna was the second high profile incident involving an Indian trained terrorist group in Maldivian territory. The raid on Male during the first week of November, 1988 by sea borne PLOTE (People’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) terrorists at the behest of a Colombo based Maldivian businessman, Abdulla Luthufee was the first. Interestingly, the Indian navy sank MV Progress Light commandeered by Luthufee’s mercenaries in a bid to reach Sri Lankan waters.

Had the SLN had an effective deployment in the seas off the northwestern coast, it could have scored a significant victory by thwarting an LTTE plan to shift the remaining crew of ‘Sri Krishna’ from the Vanni mainland to Tamil Nadu. The LTTE transferred altogether 11 Indians on May 18 and dropped them at two different locations. Had Soza died during the confrontations, the LTTE would have quietly killed the Indians to cover-up the Sri Krishna episode. The Maldives promptly responded to an SLN request to question those in their custody. Their interrogation helped SLN efforts to break the enemy sea supply route (LTTE frees Indians after losing Sri Krishna with strap line SLN gains access to Sea Tigers in Maldivian custody-The Island, May 20, 2007).

Soon after the Maldivians had intercepted the Sri Krishna, the Norwegian embassy in Colombo sought information from the Maldivian High Commission in Colombo regarding the incident. The Norwegians wouldn’t have raised it with the Maldivians without being asked by the LTTE. However, by the time Norway got in touch with the diplomatic mission, the Maldivians had cleared SLN intelligence to interrogate those in their custody (Foreign embassy tried to help LTTE arms vessel escape with strap line Sinking of Sri Krishna by the Maldivian Coast Guard-The Island May 26, 2007).

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Eelam war IV: Weapons transit point Tamil Nadu



DMK chief M. Karunanidhi with Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in Chennai. Having ruled India for a decade since May 2004, the Congress led United Progressive Front (UPA) suffered a humiliating defeat at the recently concluded parliamentary polls. Throughout eelam war IV (August 2006-May 2009), the DMK administration in Tamil Nadu backed the LTTE, though the group was classified as a terrorist group since the assassination of Italian-born, Sonia’s husband, Rajiv, one-time Congress leader. The LTTE assassinated Gandhi in May 1991, while he was campaigning in Tamil Nadu.

by Shamindra Ferdinando

A chance confrontation between the navy and the LTTE off Talaimannar on the evening of October 31, 2006 led to the recovery of high explosive motor bombs and a small consignment of 12.7 mm ammunition. The navy intercepted a trawler as it was heading towards the Vanni mainland. The recovery of 27 boxes containing 120 mm motor bombs revealed the existence of an LTTE supply line through Tamil Nadu. The navy believed that the vessel could have come from Tamil Nadu, unless it received a load of ammunition from a floating warehouse belonging to the LTTE on the high seas. Although the navy asserted that it could have been the first arms smuggling bid since the collapse of the Geneva talks between President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government and the LTTE, the LTTE was widely believed to have brought sizable stocks of arms, ammunition and equipment during the Oslo-arranged Ceasefire Agreement (CFA). The then Tamil Nadu government led by M. Karunanidhi (DMK), turned a blind eye to what was happening in the Southern Indian state. Jayaram Jayalalithaa’s Opposition AIADMK too, remained mum for obvious reasons (First arms smuggling bid after Geneva II thwarted with strap line navy recovers mortar bombs from LTTE vessel - ‘The Island’ November 6, 2006).

Last week, the writer dealt with how the LTTE had brazenly used the Tamil Nadu fishing fleet to its advantage in spite of it being a proscribed organization since the assassination of one-time Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991.

In the wake of the November 2005 presidential election which brought Mahinda Rajapaksa into power, the LTTE stepped up its Tamil Nadu project. The LTTE used a fleet of trawlers to move supplies to the Vanni mainland from the high seas, via Tamil Nadu, widely believed to be the main transit point. During January-mid November 2006, the navy confronted the LTTE in the Gulf of Mannar. Some of the confrontations took place close to the Indo-Lanka maritime boundary. Although some Indian fishermen could have perished in confrontations between the navy and Tamil Nadu trawlers commandeered by the LTTE, the DMK remained silent. Both the DMK as well as the AIADMK ignored what was going on even after the navy rescued a Tamil Nadu fishermen identified as Sekar after he jumped from a trawler commandeered by the LTTE, soon after it was hit by a pair of Sri Lankan Fast Attack Craft (FACs) off Kudiramalai point on November 14, 2006 (Indian link in LTTE arms smuggling operations with strap line Indian survives SLN attack on arms carrying trawler near Indo-Lanka maritime boundary - ‘The Island’ November 17, 2006).

The Congress ignored the Tamil Nadu-LTTE relationship. The Congress returned to power in May 2004 after having defeated the Baratiya Janata Party (BJP) led the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Although the Central government of India knew the ground situation, it turned a Nelsonian eye. By late 2006, the LTTE was operating in Tamil Nadu in a big way.

The navy strongly pushed the government to take up the issue with New Delhi. President Mahinda Rajapaksa sought Indian intervention to thwart the LTTE from using her waters to move arms, ammunition and equipment to the Vanni mainland. The President raised the issue during a visit to India President Rajapaksa didn’t mince his words when he requested India to neutralize the LTTE threat. Although Sri Lanka felt that coordinated sea patrols could deprive the LTTE of freedom of movement, India couldn’t have supported such an initiative due to the Tamil Nadu factor. In the absence of a joint effort in the Gulf of Mannar, Sri Lanka expected India to police her waters effectively. The navy found it extremely difficult to maintain the required level of surveillance, simultaneously on the east coast as well as the Gulf of Mannar, due to lack of resources. The navy struggled to meet its commitments in the wake of losing five FACs during 2006. The LTTE fully exploited the difficulties experienced by the navy. But the ‘silent service’ worked overtime to break the Tamil Nadu supply line as the army battled for control in the Eastern Province (Sri Lanka wants India to prevent LTTE using her waters - ‘The Island’ November 27th, 2006).

The next successful navy operation couldn’t have taken place at a better time. A naval task force comprising three FACs and an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) intercepted an Indian trawler carrying a consignment of armaments about 50 nautical miles on the morning of November 27, 2006, as President Rajapaksa was visiting New Delhi. The vessel was moving in the direction of Sri Lanka. The navy struck following a four-day surveillance mission. The navy swiftly apprised President Rajapaksa of the latest destruction (MR presents a strong case for Indian action with strap line LTTE vessel sunk near Indo-Lanka maritime border-The Island, November 28, 2006).

The seizure of a fishing craft on February 13, 2007, 27 nautical miles north-west of Point Calimere by the Indian Coast Guard took an unexpected turn when a section of the Indian media alleged that it was on a suicide mission against a key Sri Lankan military target. The Hindu speculated that the explosives -laden vessel was perhaps on its way to blow up the Kankesanthurai harbour. The newspaper quoted well informed sources as having said that among the five persons-three Sri Lankans and two Indians detained along with the boat were a Sea Tiger cadre and Black Tiger operative. The navy dismissed The Hindu report. The navy believed that the 34-foot multi-day fishing craft, with a maximum speed of about 10 knots wouldn’t have been allowed near the KKS harbour, under any circumstances. India never gave the SLN access to those in their custody. India also claimed that several explosives-laden LTTE vessels operated in the seas between India and Sri Lanka, posing a grave danger. India asserted that these boats were on suicide missions targeting SLN vessels as well the Colombo harbour. But the navy dismissed the Indian claims. The navy pointed out that slow moving trawlers had never been used in suicide missions. The navy alleged that some interested party wanted to identify the vessel seized on February 13 and subsequently blasted by Indian authorities as one of the boats deployed on a mass suicide mission (Lanka rejects Indian claims of LTTE ‘suicide-pack’ in Indo-Lanka waters with strap line reiterates call for joint naval patrols - ‘The Island’ February 24, 2007).

Initially, the Indian Coast Guard claimed that the vessel was on its way to Tamil Nadu. The Coast Guard asserted that a suicide belt recovered from the boat, along with 2,000 kgs of explosives was to be used in an attack on a major temple festival. The Indian media quoted the then Coast Guard regional director, Rajendra Singh as having said that the CG had succeeded in thwarting a terrorist attack on a major temple festival.

In the wake of the unsubstantiated claim of ‘suicide-pack’ operating in Indo-Lanka waters, The Island came across information regarding a hitherto unreported attack on an Indian tug positioned south of Point Calimere in June 2006. The ill-fated vessel was believed to have been deployed alongside a dredger assigned for the controversial Sethusamudram project. The LTTE was alleged to used a limpet mine to blast the tug (Sea Tigers blast Indian tug deployed for Suthu project - ‘The Island’ February 18, 2007).

‘The Island’ also discussed the possibility of some of the weapons that were being moved to the Vanni with the help of Tamil Nadu being procured from China by North Korea on behalf of the LTTE. The recovery of 152 mm and 130 mm artillery rounds as well as 120 mm mortars following the sinking of an LTTE ship identified as ‘MV Kiyoi’ south of Dondra on February 28, 2007 further reinforced the assertion that the LTTE was receiving armaments of Chinese origin. The navy trapped ‘MV Kiyoi’ 365 nautical miles (675 km) south of Dondra. The LTTE lost 18 cadres, including five self styled Lieutenant Colonels. The seizure of the 22-feet long fibre lass dinghy, mounted with a 14.5 mm single barrel anti-aircraft weapon and a multi-purpose machine gun of Chinese origin off Battalangunduwa in early 2007 highlighted the urgent need to block the weapons supply line (Tigers’ North Korean link bared? - ‘The Island’ March 5, 2007).

Close on the heels of The Island report, the North Korean embassy in New Delhi assured the Sri Lankan High Commission also in the Indian capital, that North Korea wouldn’t support the LTTE. North Korea alleged that there was an attempt to bring the country into disrepute (Lanka targets Tigers’ overseas arms procurement network-The Island March 21, 2007).

The DMK facilitated the LTTE project. The DMK leadership continuously accused the navy of targeting the Tamil Nadu fishing fleet. It was part of the DMK/LTTE strategy to discourage the navy from challenging the Tamil Nadu fishing fleet. The LTTE planned to exploit the situation to smuggle in as much as possible weapons to the Vanni, using the Tamil Nadu fishing fleet. The DMK repeatedly demanded the Centre to halt the Sri Lankan offensive against the LTTE. Having organized a series of protests against the navy, a top DMK delegation met the then Deputy Sri Lankan High Commissioner based in Chennai, Hamza to discuss what the Tamil Nadu media called attacks on innocent Indian fishermen. The then State Electricity Minister, N. Veerasamy, met DHC Hamza on March 12, 2007 in Chennai. Following that meeting, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi claimed that Hamza had conveyed Sri Lanka’s readiness to allow Indian military personnel on-board SLN vessels to ensure that there wouldn’t be further attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen. Navy headquarters promptly dismissed Karunanidhi’s claim. The then SLN chief, Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda asserted that foreign personnel couldn’t have been allowed on vessels deployed under any circumstances (Lanka won’t accept Indians on SLN vessels - ‘The Island’ March 14, 2007).

The then navy media spokesperson, Captain DKP Dassanayake played a pivotal role in countering a high profile propaganda campaign targeting Sri Lanka’s efforts to thwart LTTE arms smuggling operations. Had it not been for Dassanayake’s insight, the propaganda campaign could have had a destabilizing effort on the naval strategy. The navy media acted swiftly and decisively to counter propaganda.

A section of the Indian media propagated that the SLN was indiscriminately attacking the Tamil Nadu fishing fleet. Instead of discouraging Tamil Nadu fishermen from crossing the Indo-Lanka maritime boundary, the DMK stepped up pressure on the navy. The DMK relentlessly attacked the navy. It was acting on behalf of the LTTE. The LTTE dealt directly with Tamil Nadu administration as well as the Opposition AIADMK. At that time, the Tamil Diaspora wasn’t a factor. The LTTE ran the show. The LTTE prevented the formation of Tamil outfits. Prabhakaran would have never have allowed the formation of a grouping like the UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) to campaign on its behalf. They Tamil Nadu based political parties to the hilt. In fact, Tamil Nadu was nothing but a tool, cleverly used by Prabhakaran to undermine India. The Centre always struggled to cope up with Tamil Nadu. The collapse of the BJP government in 1999 following Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK quitting the BJP-led coalition government is a case in point. The AIADMK move stunned India. However, the BJP-led coalition won the election and ruled India until May 2004. Having defeated the BJP in May 2004, the Congress remained in power until May this year. Now, after having regained power, the BJP led coalition, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), is exploring the possibility of reaching an alliance with Jayalalitha. Although newly elected premier Narendra Modi’s government doesn’t require Jayalalitha’s muscle for survival, Sri Lanka should be wary of a new partnership between the Centre and the AIADMK now in power in Tamil Nadu. The outfit consolidated its power in Tamil Nadu at the recently concluded parliamentary polls by securing 37 out of 39 electorates. The remaining two ended-up with two regional allies of the BJP. The bottom line is that a Modi-Jayalalitha agreement will give the entire Tamil Nadu state to the NDA.