Sri Lanka has denied Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s charge that it had tried to import explosives from India, clandestinely.
The Island daily on Monday quoted an unidentified Sri Lankan government official as saying that the non-electrical detonators seized in Tamil Nadu were for commercial purposes and not war.
The daily said that while it was true that it was the Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) which had placed the order for 400,000 non-electrical detonators with a Nagpur-based Indian company, the detonators were to be issued by the Commercial Explosives and Firearms Unit of the government for commercial purposes.
Inquiries reveal that explosives in Sri Lanka are stored by the Navy in its warehouses and issued to civilian users on instructions from competent government authorities.
The import of the consignment from India was a “legitimate commercial transaction,” The Island quoted an official as saying.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi had complained to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister AK Antony after the state police seized 4,000 cartons of “explosives” en route to the port of Tuticorin to be shipped to Sri Lanka.
The Central leaders denied that New Delhi had authorised the export of explosives to the Sri Lankan armed forces and promised to inquire into the possibility of clandestine exports.
Any military help to Sri Lanka is viewed with great disfavour by the political parties in Tamil Nadu, and New Delhi has had to do some tight rope walking to be in the good books of Chennai and Colombo at the same time.