Tamil Guerrilla Raids





Intro: The leaders of Sri Lankan guerrilla groups have harshly criticized the police raids Saturday at their headquarters and residences in the South Indian state of Tamilnadu. VOA Correspondent Don Weaver in New Delhi reports the operation was larger than first indicated and was approved by the Indian government.

Text: The Tamil militant leaders expressed bitterness over the police action, dubbed Operation Tiger. The leaders say their people have been humiliated in public. A spokesman for the Tamil Eelam Liberation Front said India was treating the guerrillas like criminals.

Indian news agencies say the central and state governments coordinated the raids to discipline the rebels. The operation occurred while Tamilnadu Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi were conferring here in New Delhi on clipping the wings of the insurgent. Some of them have been stirring up trouble with armed attacks on Indians.

The large-scale police operation came a week after gunmen of the insurgent group opened fire on Indian Tamils with automatic weapons in a Madras dispute. Sixty rounds were fired. One Indian died and two others were wounded. Other guerrilla actions have caused deaths, injuries and property damage in Tamilnadu.

The outlaw antics of a small percentage of the insurgents have resulted in shock and resentment on the part of the Indian Tamils. They have a close ethnic and cultural affinity with the Sri Lankan Tamils. The bloodshed in the Madras incident last weekend apparently convinced New Delhi it was time to act.

In the well-coordinated crackdown, Press Trust of India reports Tamilnadu police arrested about one thousand Tamil insurgents in a dozen districts. The rebels were disarmed, taken to various police stations and later released.

The pre-dawn raids netted a large amount of arms, including ground-to-air missiles and mortars. Although it is believed many more weapons went undetected in anticipation of the action, New Delhi press reports said there was a frantic effort to ferry armaments to insurgent bases in Northern Sri Lanka, a stronghold of the rebels. The Jaffna Peninsula is only a short distance by sea from Tamilnadu.

According to Indian press reports, police released the guerrillas after they pledged to avoid terrorist activities in India. Indian has given sanctuary to one hundred thirty thousand Sri Lankan Tamils since ethnic strife escalated in mid-nineteen eighty-three.

The press accounts say the police crackdown against the insurgents might also be related to the summit conference to take place in Indian during the next week. The leaders of the seven countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC, are to convene in Bangalore, Karnataka. That state borders on Tamilnadu.

The reports say President Junius Jayawardene was uneasy about the security situation, following the rebel attack on South Indian Tamils a week ago. He was said to be thinking about sending the prime minister to take his place. To reassure all leaders attending the summit, authorities in Bangalore are taking elaborate security precautions.

In addition to SAARC business, President Jayawardene and Prime Minister Gandhi are expected to have bilateral talks on the ethnic dispute. Negotiations on the president's plan to restore peace in Sri Lanka have run into heavy weather. The guerrillas reject it as far short of Tamil demands on virtually every count.