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Tamil Nadu coast under high alert

The Tamil Nadu coast, off Ramanathapuram close to Northern Sri Lanka, has been put on high alert, as the Sri Lankan military stepped up offensive against the Tamil Tigers two days after taking Kilinochchi, the LTTE's political headquarters. MR Venkatesh reports.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2009 17:09 IST
MR Venkatesh

The Tamil Nadu coast, particularly off Ramanathapuram in the South close to Northern Sri Lanka, has been put on high alert, as the Sri Lankan military stepped up offensive against the Tamil Tigers two days after taking Kilinochchi, the LTTE's political headquarters.

However, there has been no immediate jump in the arrival of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, fleeing for safety from the war-torn areas there to landing points near Rameshwaram, which is close to Mannar in North-Western Sri Lanka, in the last two days.

This is an indication of the rebels there being pushed towards Mullaitivu on the Island's East coast. Any attempts by Tamil civilians or militants to cross over by sea was apparently impeded by heavy firing by the Sri Lankan Navy, top Police sources in Ramanathapuram told HT today over telephone.

Refugees' arrival by nocturnal boats in recent days has virtually sopped and since Dec 26 last only five Sri Lankan Tamil refugees including two women have managed to land near Rameshwaram, the sources said.

But yesterday, strangely, six Sri Lankan fishermen who strayed across the International maritime boundary near Katchatheevu, some 12 miles off Rameshwaram coast, were apprehended by the Police, sources said. "They are in our custody and we will soon deport them," they added.

"We had already put coastal security on a high alert when the President, Mrs. Prathiba Patil visited Rameshwaram Temple last week. That was a few days before the Lankan Army entered Kilinochchi. With the Lankan army offensive there intensified, we are persisting with the high security alert here," a senior Police official said. The Indian Coast Guard and the Navy were also complementing their efforts with continuous sorties, he added.

The fall of Kilinochchi for the Tigers and the Lankan Military now targeting the port town of Mullaitivu on the East, said to be the LTTE's only remaining major base and other Tiger strongholds in the North, has drawn angry reactions against the Centre by opposition parties in Tamil Nadu.

The sharpest attack yet against the Government of India unheeding repeated requests from Tamil Nadu to warn the Sri Lankan Government to stop the war and end the killings of Tamils there, has come from the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) leader, Dr. S. Ramadoss, also an UPA ally in Delhi.

"Is the war-obsessed Sinhalese establishment in Colombo perpetuating genocide and all kinds of atrocities on the Tamil minorities there, more important than the suffering Tamil people in Northern Sri Lanka to the uncaring foreign policy makers in New Delhi?" Dr. Ramadoss posed in a letter he has written to the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh.

While the MDMK leader, Mr. Vaiko termed the Sri Lankan military's onward march in Northern Sri Lanka as being "only a temporary setback for the LTTE," the Tamils Nationalist Movement leader, Mr. P. Nedurman has threatened to show black flags when Dr. Manmohan Singh arrived here on Jan 7 for inaugurating the 3-day 'Bharatiya Pravasi Divas' in Chennai.

The BJP's attack on the 'Janus-faced attitude' of both the UPA Government at the Centre and the DMK regime in Tamil Nadu in responding to the Tamils' humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka has been equally significant. It was time for India to "warn Sri Lanka" to immediately stop the war and renew the peace talks, the BJP's Tamil Nadu unit said in a strongly worded resolution condemning the "State genocide by Colombo".