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'LTTE radio equipment worried India'

world Updated: Jan 08, 2011 18:09 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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India had expressed concerns after the Sri Lankan government imported radio equipment from Norway for supplying to the separatist Tamil Tigers, a new US cable leaked by Wikileaks has revealed.

The secret cable sent by the US Embassy in Colombo claimed that the United National Party (UNP), which was in power in 2002, had requested and received radio equipment which was then handed over to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) through the government departments.

The equipment was meant for LTTE's radio channel, Voice of the Tigers (VoT), broadcast out of areas under control of the rebels.

"The equipment in question was brought into Colombo harbor last month in a shipping container. Because the consignment was for the Norwegian Embassy, no duty was paid. The Norwegian Embassy has confirmed that it turned the consignment over to the GSL's (government of Sri Lanka) Peace Secretariat, which then passed the items over to the LTTE with the assistance of the Defense Ministry," the cable - leaked to the Oslo-based Aftenposten newspaper, explained.

The incident had worried India because New Delhi was apprehensive that the radio broadcast could reach Tamil Nadu and other parts of South India.

"The Indian government reportedly has expressed concerns to the GSL that the equipment will allow LTTE broadcasts to reach Tamil Nadu. It is not clear what range the new equipment will allow the VoT to have," the cable said, adding "the station has broadcast some pretty bloodcurdling stuff in the past, including salutes to the LTTE´s terrorist acts."

Colombo defended the move, saying that by helping the LTTE in getting advance radio equipment, it was successful in bringing the VoT under government regulations and that the rebels would have anyway smuggled the equipment into the country.

Norway tried to deflect the controversy by saying that it was helping the peace process.

However the Government of Norway "(GoN) only agreed to help if the equipment was provided to the (Sri Lankan) Peace Secretariat -- and not directly to the LTTE," the cable added.