Although India has overlooked previous requests for access to LTTE operatives in her custody on, what a senior official called, domestic political reasons, Sri Lanka is confident that a chance to question Jayakumar (34) alias Gowrishankar, a senior Sea Tiger in Indian custody wouldn`t be denied.
Jayakumar, believed to be one of the highest ranking LTTE operatives arrested in India after the Norwegian-arranged CFA came into operation in February, 2002, is widely believed to be a central figure in the LTTE arms procurement ring. Under interrogation, he has revealed the financial support received from the UK based LTTE organisations in support of the operations in Sri Lanka.
A resident of Valvettiturai, Jayakumar is believed to have joined Sea Tigers in 1995 and has some close relatives living at Thanjavur.
India didn`t allow SLN to question three LTTE operatives arrested along with two Indians on February 13, this year and six others, believed to be a special squad deployed for arms smuggling operations arrested by her Coast Guard on April 11. Although India signalled that it could arrange two Sri Lankan intelligence personnel to meet investigators who interrogated the suspects, it never materialised.
India also blew up the vessel seized in February, 27 nautical miles South West of point Calimere claiming that it carried about 2,000kgs of high explosives and posed a danger to Chennai port.
Eyebrows were raised when a section of the Indian officialdom claimed that the explosives laden boat was on a suicide mission on Kankesanturai port.
The Island learns that Sri Lanka has sought access to Jayakumar shortly after Indian Police revealed the arrest on Sunday.
Interrogation of the suspect taken at the parking lot of Chennai International Airport terminal on Saturday night revealed that he had received funds from a London based LTTE operative identified as Karuppiah to procure a large trawler. Investigators have recovered the boat at Mallipattinam in the coastal Thanjavur district. Jayakumar had entered India last March illegally.
An Indian identified as Ravikumar (42) and another LTTE operative James (46) alias Raja have been arrested along with Jayakumar.
The arrest was made as James was about to confirm his air ticket to return to Colombo. James, a resident of Mannar had travelled to India thrice this year on valid travel documents. Authoritative sources revealed that he had procured computer spare parts, swimming accessories (goggles and pads) and GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and had hidden them among a beedi consignment and smuggled it to the Vanni. The sources said that James had Indian Rs 478,290 to procure another trawler. The money has been confiscated. Chennai City Q Branch also recovered Sri Lankan Rs 4,140 and four cellular phones. He had last visited India in October.
An authoritative security official said that they haven`t come across a case in which an LTTE operative had acknowledged receiving money from a supporter based in the UK in support of procurement. He expressed the belief that India would give Sri Lankan intelligence services an opportunity to interrogate Jayakumar who had direct access to a top level UK based contact.
At least a section of the officialdom believes that the Central Government is sincere in its attempts to curb LTTE activity, particularly in Tamil Nadu.
The SLN attributed the attempt to purchase Indian boats to a severe shortage of large craft available for smuggling of urgently needed arms, ammunition and equipment to the Vanni and also to avoid further trouble in Tamil Nadu by seizing Indian vessel as in the case of Sri Krishna and at least three other trawlers sunk by the SLN while being commandeered by the LTTE. The Maldivian Coast Guard rescued the Indian Captain of Sri Krishna commandeered by the LTTE while the SLN, too, rescued an Indian late last year.
The SLAF has successfully targeted LTTE boat building facilities in the Vanni over the past two years.