NEW DELHI, December 5: India has asked the European Union (EU) to ban the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by branding it as a terrorist organization.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sent to the EU, through the Ministry of External Affairs, a dossier on the LTTE and three Indian terrorist outfits to be considered for a ban, according to informed sources here.
The LTTE has acquired notoriety for being one of the most lethal and well-organised terrorist groups in South Asia. India was the first country to ban the LTTE on 14 May 1992, an year after the outfit`s woman suicide-bomber Dhanu assassinated former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at an election rally on the outskirts of Chennai on the night of 21 May 1991.
The outfit has since been banned by Malaysia, Canada, Australia, the United States (in 1997), and Britain (2001).
On September 26 this year, the EU barred Tamil Tigers from visiting its 25 Member States, and declared that it is actively considering listing the LTTE as a terrorist group. Condemning their `continuous use of violence and terrorism` the EU asked the Tamil Tigers `to take immediate public steps to demonstrate their commitment to the peace process and their willingness to change.`
The EU also decided that each of its Member States will, where necessary, take `additional national measures to check and curb illegal or undesirable activities (including issues of funding and propaganda) of the LTTE, its related organizations and known individual supporters.`
Between May 1976, when Velupillai Prabhakaran floated the LTTE to wage an armed struggle for a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka`s northern and eastern provinces, and February this year, the dreaded outfit carried out 241 suicide bombings---the most by any terrorist outfit across the globe. Its high-profile victims include India`s Rajiv Gandhi, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa, Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, and a failed attempt on the life of Chandrika Kumaratunga.
The Indian dossier sent to the EU says the LTTE runs a wide network of publicity and propaganda activities through bases in at least 54 countries. Financial support comes in the form of donations, forced or otherwise, from expatriate Sri Lankan Tamils across Switzerland, Canada, Australia, the UK, the US and the Scandinavian countries.
If and when the EU formally bans the LTTE, that will freeze transfer of funds and financial assets of the outfit across all its 25 member states.
In its 29 May 2000 issue, TIME magazine estimated that the LTTE raises US$60 million annually for its `war chest` from an estimated 900,000 Sri Lankan Tamils living in 40 countries. THE ECONOMIST of London estimated in its 20 July 2002 edition that a sum of US$4 billion was being withheld from the Tamil Tigers in the wake of the ban imposed on it by various countries.
Meanwhile, the Indian outfits which New Delhi wants the EU to ban include two Kashmiri militant groups and one Sikh extremist outfit. They are: Harkat-ul-Jehadi-I-Islami (Huji), Jamiat-ul Mujahideen, and Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF).
Huji is a splinter group of the Harkat-ul Ansar, whose Bangladeshi unit was formed in 1992 with Osama bin Laden`s help. Of late, it has been active not only in Bangladesh but also in border districts of Indian states bordering that country, namely: West Bengal and Assam. The KLF, which was active during the militancy in Punjab in north India in the 1980s, claims to have several offices across Europe.
The sending of the dossier comes in the week of the EU recently including Kashmiri outfit Hizbul Mujahideen in its terror black list.