Arun Lakshman/ Chennai
The Central agencies and the elite ‘Q’ branch of the Tamil Nadu police are on high alert after the NIA registered Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against three people in a fake passport case which was registered in Tamil Nadu in October 2021 by the ‘Q’ branch.
The NIA registered a case after the intelligence inputs regarding former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) trying to raise funds and to support the activities of the now-defunct movement in the state of Tamil Nadu.
A few former operatives of the banned terror outfit based out of Europe were trying to withdraw unutilized funds of the LTTE that were in several accounts in India. The ‘Q’ branch had arrested a woman Mary Francisco (51) who is a Sri Lankan national settled in Canada and who was used by the LTTE operatives based out of Denmark and Switzerland to withdraw the money in a Mumbai based bank using fake identities. The police had arrested her after a tip-off from central intelligence agencies with a fake Indian passport at Chennai airport.
The police also arrested a Sri Lankan national from Tiruchi airport and another person from Madurai airport and on questioning they tried to pass it off as regular fake passport cases. However acting on tip offs from the Central agencies, the NIA took over the case in January 2022 and registered a UAPA against the offenders as they were specifically deployed to withdraw unutilized funds of the LTTE and to try and reivve the movement in the Southern state of Tamil Nadu.
Interestingly several organisations with Tamil identity including certain NGO’s were under the watch of the central agencies after they were trying to conduct certain webinars and public programmes against the Chinese investments in Sri Lanka. Sources in the central agencies told IANS that these organisations could possibly a cover to get ground support for Tamil nationalism in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu at the expense of the Chinese expansion as the presence of a new port at Hambankotta with the support of Chinese funding in Sri Lanka becoming a matter of concern for Indian agencies.
Mary Francisco had told intelligence agencies on questioning that she was staying at Anna Nagar since the past two years and had obtained PAN card, Aadhar card, Voter Identity card and Indian passport with the help of a few agents. She had informed the interrogators that crores of rupees of unutilized funds were lying in several banks and the modus operandi was to withdraw these funds using people like her with fake identities and to transfer this money to other accounts in India and abroad under the cover of some shell companies.
Sources in the intelligence agencies told IANS that the women and two of her associates had tried to even activate the mobile number linked to an account with a nationalized bank in Fort Branch, Mumbai. However central intelligence agencies were tracking her movement and she was arrested.
Prior to this, the former intelligence operative of the LTTE, Satkunam alias Sabesan (47) was arrested by the NIA in October 2021 for alleged involvement in the smuggling of drugs and arms from Pakistan. The Tamil Nadu ‘Q’ branch police had said that Satkunam had a close relationship with the Sri Lankan don, Ankola Lokka who died in Coimbatore where he was staying undercover.
The NIA and the ‘Q’ branch had after interrogating Sabesan and his aides Chinnasuresh and Soundararajan found that the proceeds of the sale of drugs from Pakistan to Sri Lanka were routed to India through a hawala network operated by one Jayaprakash, a Tamil person based at Bengaluru. He was also arrested. The accused had informed the investigating agencies that the funds were used to finance the activities of LTTE in India.
With the LTTE setting up its network using hawala transactions and drug money, and with NGOs and some political organizations acting as a front cover, Tamil nationalism is planning a revival in Tamil Nadu with LTTE as the key focal point. This is a worrying factor for the Indian intelligence agencies as the Government of India does not want any banned organization working against a foreign government from its soil. Sources in the Indian agencies told IANS that there would be a severe crackdown against the sympathizers and supporters of the defunct LTTE and other Tamil national movements if they try to create an atmosphere of support for the cause in the Indian soil against the Sri Lankan government.