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Cablegate: Suspected Ltte Arms Smuggling From Tamil Nadu

VZCZCXRO2439
PP RUEHBI RUEHCI
DE RUEHCG #2601/01 3460733
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 120733Z DEC 06
FM AMCONSUL CHENNAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0486
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 2125
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO PRIORITY 1285
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 0659
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 4919

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CHENNAI 002601

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PTER IN CE
SUBJECT: SUSPECTED LTTE ARMS SMUGGLING FROM TAMIL NADU


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: A chance discovery in southern Tamil Nadu of
thousands of "gelex boosters" suspected to be on their way to Sri
Lanka's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has embarrassed the
state police, who long have denied any arms movement from the state.
Separately, the Indian Navy seized three rockets from fishermen who
claimed to have scooped them out of the sea off Rameswaram. Despite
the numerous government agencies monitoring the coast, some
smuggling activity clearly goes on between India and Sri Lanka.
Some Tamil Nadu political parties meanwhile raised their voices
against the Sri Lankan Navy's alleged procurement of ammunition from
India, bringing to the fore a Tamil Nadu consensus against India
providing any military aid to the government of Sri Lanka. END
SUMMARY

AN ACCIDENTAL SEIZURE OF ARMS
-----------------------------

2. (SBU) On November 29, a private vehicle carrying thousands of
"gelex boosters," used in explosive devices to enhance power,
overturned at Manamadurai in south Tamil Nadu, spilling the contents
from 30 packets. Receiving the information from locals, Tamil Nadu
police seized the explosives and launched an investigation which so
far has led to the arrest of three persons. In a December 8 meeting
with us, Director General of Tamil Nadu Police D. Mukherjee said the
police suspect that the boosters were being smuggled to Sri Lanka
for the use of the LTTE. He added that the police have traced the
origin of the boosters to a private company named Gouthami
Explosives in Hyderabad.

3. (SBU) DGP Mukherjee said that the police were aware of ongoing
smuggling of diesel, petrol and medicines to Sri Lanka, but had no
clue about the movement of explosives. Admitting that the weapons
movement would have gone undetected but for the accident, Mukherjee
said the smuggling may not be an isolated case. He explained that
the 1076 kilometers of Tamil Nadu's coastline are monitored by 300
police of the Coastal Security Group. Recognizing the need for
better surveillance of the coast, the Center has allotted $10
million under the Coastal Security Scheme to hire and train more
police and to set up 12 more coastal police stations in Tamil Nadu,
each equipped with speed boats. The recruitment and training of
police is time consuming, the DGP said, pointing out that 10,000
vacancies exist in the TN police.

4. (SBU) Mukherjee, however, added that the LTTE's arms procurement
is mostly from Europe and South East Asian countries, managed by
Kumaran Padmanathan.

SIEZURE OF ROCKETS OFF INDIAN COAST
-----------------------------------

4. (SBU) Newspapers also reported finds of rockets off the
Rameswaram coast between India and Sri Lanka. According to the
initial report, on December 5, the Indian Navy seized from a fishing
boat a two-and-a-half foot rocket weighing 17 kilos and packed in a
wooden box. The fishermen claimed they had caught the box in their
nets. On December 10, the Navy seized two more rockets from fishing
boats, and a naval officer told the press at Rameswaram that he
could not rule out the possibility that the rockets were meant for
the LTTE. The Hindu newspaper reported the rockets will be examined
by the Naval Armament Depot at Visakhapatnam and the fishermen will
be interrogated.

SRI LANKAN NAVY PROCUREMENT RAISES HACKLES
------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu's small pro-LTTE political parties
expressed dismay at the reported procurement of detonators by the
Sri Lankan Navy from a Nagpur company. Some detonators were
transported through Tamil Nadu for shipment from Tuticorin port to
Colombo. On December 7, state police reportedly stopped a truck
carrying 400,000 detonators at Madurai, but let it go after
confirming that the transportation was legal. PMK Party founder
Ramdoss expressed concern and anguish over the incident and demanded
that the Center immediately stop all supplies of arms to Sri Lanka.
During a recent visit to New Delhi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister
Karunanidhi raised this issue with the Defense Minister.

SMUGGLING NETWORKS A CHALLENGE FOR POLICE
-----------------------------------------

6. (SBU) COMMENT: In addition to the Tamil Nadu police and its
anti-terrorist unit (Q Branch), the Indian Navy, the Coast Guard,
and the Indian intelligence agencies all are active in monitoring
the south Indian coast. There is no reason to suspect that arms are
freely flowing between India and Sri Lanka -- an impression some
media reports seem to convey. However, given the 1000-kilometer
coastline, the thousands of fishing boats swarming the sea, and the
corruption of the local police, some smuggling activity is taking

CHENNAI 00002601 002 OF 002


place. Simultaneously, a Tamil Nadu political consensus seems to
have solidified against India providing any form of military aid to
Sri Lanka, supported by the DMK sympathies for the suffering Tamils
of Sri Lanka, the high decibel propaganda of pro-LTTE parties, and
the GOI guarantees ruling out any lethal aid to Sri Lanka. END
COMMENT. HOPPER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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