The intelligence wing of the Sri Lankan government has arrested two people, including a former member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), on allegations of illegally manufacturing firearms in the Thirukovil region of Amparai district.
Based on a tip-off received by them, the Amparai division of the intelligence wing sieged a building in Thirukovil which was reportedly a hub for manufacturing spare parts for machine guns. A 60 year old metalsmith named Kanthaiya Thavarasa was apprehended in the operation.
Subsequently 35-year old Somasundaram Gajendran was also arrested for illicit manufacturing of machine guns. The Sri Lankan security forces stated that Gajendran is a former member of the LTTE.
An intelligence officer told BBC Tamil that Gajendran received military training at the Tora Bora camp of the LTTE in Batticaloa in 2002. Known by his nom de guerre ‘Thavaroopan’ during his time at the LTTE, Gajendran had served in the motor wing of the armed group.
It is also claimed that Gajendran was not ‘rehabilitated’ by the government like other former members of the organisation were following the end of the war in 2009. Sri Lanka’s ‘rehabilitation’ process was widely slammed by several human rights group to be a cover for torture and abduction of former LTTE cadres, with no international oversight of the process.
The intelligence wing claimed to have confiscated ten firearms and handed them overalongside the arrested Tamil men to the Thirukovil police station. The police are said to be currently undertaking activities to take the accused to the Akkaraipattu Magistrate Court.
The latest arrests follow a crackdown in the North-East, which has seen a steady increase in militarisation and dozens of Tamils arrested by the Sri Lankan security forces in recent months.