Feature Article

RAW aiding paramilitary recruitment in India - report

[TamilNet, Sunday, 25 June 2006, 01:15 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s Army-backed Tamil paramilitaries are seeking recruits amongst Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu, offering hefty salaries, an Indian news agency reported this week. The Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF), an India-based paramilitary group now operating in an anti-LTTE grouping under the Karuna Group, is seeking recruits from refugee camps and orphanages in southern India, an Indian website reported, citing local press reports. The recruitment is being conducted with the knowledge of India’s external intelligence agency, RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), the report added.

The ENDLF, reportedly headed by Paranthan Rajan, has been recruiting cadres for the Karuna Group (named after the renegade LTTE commander who heads it) from refugee camps in Tamil Nadu, the website quoted local press reports as saying.

New recruits were being offered Rs 10,000 on joining, with more promised when they reached Sri Lanka.

Rajan, a veteran paramilitary operating in India since 1990, has also been associated with an orphanage for Tamil refugees based in Bangalore, the website reported. One of the charges against him is that he sent some boys from the orphanage to participate in militant activities in Sri Lanka.

Rajan has contacts with several anti-LTTE groups, and he himself has been associated with several outfits, the report said.

Originally a member of the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), Rajan left it to form Three Stars, along with dissidents from two other groups — Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) and Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF).

In 1987, when the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was in Sri Lanka, Rajan came into contact with RAW officials, who created ENDLF by merging Three Stars and splinter groups of PLOTE and EPRLF. In 1990, soon after the IPKF left Sri Lanka, Rajan, along with cadres of many other pro-Indian groups, shifted base to India. Rajan operated out of Chennai and Bangalore.

Rajan came to Indian intelligence officials’ attention when he joined Karuna’s group and formed a political outfit — Tamileela Iykkia Viduthalai Munnani. Given his background, observers feel Rajan’s alliance with Karuna might be RAW’s handiwork.

“Rajan’s unusually lengthy stay in India — he first arrived in India in 1990 — and his unrestricted movement here, coupled with his anti-LTTE activities on Indian soil, are seen as concrete proof that he is a RAW agent,” the website said.

The recently defeated Jayalalithaa government had arrested Rajan in 2004 – observers feel that he misread signals following Jayalalithaa’s crackdown on pro-LTTE groups in Tamil Nadu and felt he could have a free run with his anti-LTTE propaganda.

But he was released at the behest of RAW, the report said.

And Rajan was said to be once again active in Tamil Nadu, even though he had been deported last year on the condition that he would not return to India.

Rajan landed in Bangalore a few weeks before the May 2006 Assembly elections and shifted to Tamil Nadu after the DMK came to power in May.

Police are not sure about Rajan’s present location. Asked if he might be holed up in some other Indian state like Orissa, where several pro-Indian militant leaders are believed to be hiding, an official told the website he could comment only on the situation in Tamil Nadu.

According to another Indian official, Rajan is currently in Batticaloa in Sri Lanka, which happens to be Karuna Group’s main area of operation.

The ENDLF is being used by RAW to as a rallying point of anti-LTTE groups, the report said.

Rajan’s actions could have had RAW’s blessings as it might have had an interest in promoting Karuna and neutralising LTTE leader Vellupillai Pirapaharan’s appeal in Tamil Nadu, the report said.

In the wake of the April 2004 crushing of Karuna’s rebellion against the LTTE, Sri Lanka’s military has brought a number of paramilitary groups, including the ENDLF under one grouping to wage a campaign against the LTTE and its supporters.

ENDLF cadres based in India have been rotating into Sri Lanka’s Northeast on one-year visas issued by the Sri Lankan government to bolster the ‘shadow war.’

The covert war of attrition that has now escalated into a low-intensity war between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE – which has sent over three thousand people fleeing to southern India in the past few months.

 

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