Home India News LTTE tells India it is not trying to regroup

LTTE tells India it is not trying to regroup

By M.R. Narayan Swamy, IANS,

New Delhi : In an obvious bid to regain legal status in India, Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers have told Home Minister P. Chidambaram that it is not trying to regroup and is also not engaged in any illegal activity in this country.

In an open letter to the minister, the vanquished Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has also described as “totally untrue” claims by Indian officials that the Tigers had links with Indian Maoists.

The letter, dated Nov 5 and reproduced by pro-LTTE websites believed to be operated from the West, has been copied to External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

The letter has been signed by “R.M. Supan, Coordinator of LTTE Head Office”. Supan is believed to be the nom de guerre of the person heading the media wing of what remains of the LTTE, which has ceased to exist in Sri Lanka but whose supporters remain active primarily in the West.

The Sri Lankan military decimated the LTTE in May 2009, killing its top leaders, including Velupillai Prabhakaran and ending one of the longest and bloodiest insurgencies in the world.

Despite the group’s annihilation, its supporters in the West still weave dreams of a Tamil homeland to be carved out of Sri Lanka’s northeast. LTTE supporters in the Tamil diaspora are, however, a divided lot.

LTTE supporters number thousands in the West. But it has virtually no fighters. Those who survived the military onslaught of 2009 are mostly in Sri Lankan custody.

The LTTE communication to Chidambaram underlined that the Tigers had not indulged in any armed activity since May 2009.

It accused the Sri Lankan government “and certain other agencies” of using “our name and some of our fighters who had surrendered” for “destructive activities”.

“These actions of the government are being manipulated by neighbouring countries and even certain foreign countries to suit their convenience,” said the letter, without elaborating which countries it was referring to.

It went on to say that the LTTE was not trying to regroup and was not involved in any illegal activity in India or any other country.

“We totally reject and strongly condemn the malicious statements linking us with foreign armed groups; the recent statements by Indian officials that we have links with Maoist groups in (India are) totally untrue.”

It said that LTTE members and supporters were being “prevented from stating their defence in India or in foreign countries.

“We request that we be given the opportunity to explain our cause… We are ready to answer all accusations against us in a court of law.”

Indian officials say the LTTE letter is an attempt to show it was alive and to influence New Delhi to lift the ban on it. India outlawed the group in 1992 and has since extended the ban every two years.

In the past, the officials say, the LTTE did have links with Indian insurgent groups including the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). It also set up a base in India to assassinate former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

“This letter has no meaning because we know the truth,” said one official. “Of course we also know that the LTTE is not regrouping for the simple reason that it cannot – as of now. Letters like this will be used to bolster the case that India’s ban on the group is unnecessary.”