L. Srikrishna

Bottlenecks in getting information from Sri Lanka

MADURAI: Investigations in many cases pertaining to the LTTE smuggling offences have hit a road block, according to police officers. Though the police busted smuggling acts following their intelligence and arrested the accused, .

Reliable sources in the ‘Q’ branch told The Hindu on Thursday that during the last two to three years they had successfully busted different modules and seized properties worth several lakhs in the State.

So far, the police had registered eight cases this year on charges of smuggling and under the Indian Passports Act.

They had arrested one LTTE cadre, 17 Sri Lankan Tamils and 22 accomplices, mostly locals from different parts of Tamil Nadu.

Last year, the police registered 9 cases and arrested 10 LTTE cadres, 21 Sri Lankan Tamils and 47 locals. In 2006, six locals were arrested on charges of smuggling. During interrogations, the police found that the accused smuggled items such as from gelatine sticks, walkie-talkie handsets, aluminium ingots, ball-bearings, beedi bundles and petroleum products to Sri Lanka.

‘Hawala’ mode

According to confessions, the accused received money through ‘hawala’ mode and on receipt, the goods were clandestinely despatched through agents to Sri Lanka.

The moot point is, though the police recovered the properties, they were unable to gather information as to where and to whom the goods were actually intended to and who had been instrumental in the smuggling activities.

Even as the accused claimed that they despatched the goods to persons in Colombo and gave some names and telephone numbers, the contention of the police is that the goods were intended to the LTTE, a banned outfit, and the names were fictitious. Last year, in a major haul, the Coast Guard authorities in Chennai arrested a gang in mid-sea and seized sophisticated weapons from them.

Similarly, in Madurai, the police recovered 44 walkie-talkie handsets from a gang, including a Sri Lankan Tamil. About six months ago, a new boat built at a cost of about Rs. 50 lakh was seized in Kerala, which was intended for LTTE operations. Investigating officers said that the imbroglio in the island nation had almost hit a road block in their probe and they are unable to gather information about the counterparts of the smugglers who languished in prisons and refugee camps in the State.

A senior intelligence officer said that Sri Lanka is trying to open a forum with intelligence agencies here that would enable both sides to share inputs on wanted persons. This may not only tighten the loose ends in the laws, but also ensure stringent punishment to law offenders to a great extent, he added.