Get short URL
Many members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a prohibited Sri Lankan terrorist organisation, fled to other countries, including India, after the group’s defeat at the hands of Sri Lankan forces in the 2009 civil war. While New Delhi has also banned the LTTE, it has garnered some sympathy among Tamil-speakers in India.
Gaspar Raj Marian Paulian, a terrorist who used to supply arms to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a Sri Lankan Tamil terrorist group, and is wanted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has been hiding in India, Subramanian Swamy, a senor BJP leader and parliamentarian has revealed on Monday.
Swamy produced a copy of a court case against Paulian, also known as ‘Father Gaspar Raj’, in the Eastern District Court of New York.
The alleged LTTE arms supplier is facing charges under US Code 2339B (providing material support to a foreign terrorist organisation) and US Code 371 (conspiring to defraud the United States) among other section of US law, as per the case’s document.
Nine of Gaspar’s associates have also been named in the American judicial proceedings.
Swamy has alleged that not only is Gaspar hiding in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, he is also being sheltered there by an opposition parliamentarian Kanimozhi, who is from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).
The DMK, a federal and state-level partner of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), last month came to power in Tamil Nadu state after the recently-concluded state legislature elections there.
The charges against the opposition parliamentarian by the BJP lawmaker come amid a raging debate in Tamil Nadu state. The point which is being discussed is whether A.G. Perarivalan, a former LTTE operative who was convicted of being involved in the assassination for former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, should be granted mercy by Indian authorities.
Perarivalan was accused of procuring batteries for the bombs that were used in Gandhi’s assassination by the LTTE.
The LTTE was upset by the Prime Minister after India withdrew its initial support for the group’s political activity and signed the India-Sri Lanka Accords with Colombo in 1987.
The LTTE’s aim is to establish a separate Tamil state in northern and eastern Sri Lanka. It was largely disbanded after its crushing defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan military in 2009, ending a 27-year civil war.
While India extended its ban on LTTE for five more years in 2019, many Indian Tamils are known to be quite sympathetic towards the group, mostly because of the shared linguistic and cultural heritage as well as political history of cooperation between New Delhi and the insurgent outfit.
The group is also banned in the US, Canada and the European Union (EU).
The question of support for Sri Lankan Tamils, several thousands of whom live in refugee camps of India, is an emotionally and politically charged issue in Tamil Nadu’s state politics, more so since the election victories of Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Colombo in recent years.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, hailed as the architect of Colombo’s victory in the civil war with the LTTE, is currently Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister. But he is not particularly liked by many Tamils, who accuse him of turning a blind eye towards the atrocities committed by Sri Lankan forces against Tamil civilians in the final stages of the bloody conflict.
New Delhi, meanwhile, has sought to strike a balance between the political sentiments of its Tamil population and its policy towards Sri Lanka. The strategically located island nation has become another theatre of an ongoing geopolitical tug-of-war between India and the US, on one hand, and China.
Beijing’s 99-year lease of the southern port of Hambantota as well as its investments in infrastructure projects on the island have been viewed with unease in New Delhi, which has traditionally considered the island nation as within its own backyard of influence.