A serious threat
Nearly all terror groups have a worldwide presence,
although their primary base of operations could be a single
country. The LTTE is a prime example for a truly global terror
outfit, with activities in a number of countries.
Next to Sri Lanka, the LTTE is most active in Tamil Nadu,
given that State’s linguistic and geographical ties with the
Northern region of Sri Lanka.
It is no secret that there still are Tiger cells in Tamil
Nadu, where training camps of the group existed decades ago. The
Q Branch of the Tamil Nadu Police regularly nabs both Sri Lankan
and Indian LTTE supporters from various parts of the State.
Indian law enforcement officials are well aware that the LTTE
poses a threat to Tamil Nadu as well.
Memories of the LTTE’s assassination of former Indian Prime
Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 are still vivid in the Indian
psyche. The killing evaporated whatever sympathy the people of
Tamil Nadu had for the outfit and prompted a crackdown on the
group by the Centre. The LTTE later indirectly apologized for
the assassination, but old habits die in the LTTE. Intelligence
reports indicate that the Gandhi family still faces a threat
from the Tigers. Gandhi family members themselves have admitted
There is also evidence that the LTTE is looking beyond Tamil
Nadu in a quest to expand its terror network. A recent Indian
newspaper editorial drew attention to intelligence reports on
the possibility of LTTE elements looting a bank in the adjacent
state of Kerala and raising finances for terrorist activities.
Indian law enforcement officials should take these warnings
seriously, especially in the context of remarks made by several
openly-pro LTTE politicians in Tamil Nadu. MDMK Chief Vaiko had
warned of a ‘bloodbath’ in Tamil Nadu if LTTE leader Velupillai
Prabhakaran was harmed during the ongoing military operations.
Rahul Gandhi, Rajiv’s son, has pointed out that the law would
take its course regarding this statement.
Many in Tamil Nadu now believe that only the LTTE itself
could be blamed for its present predicament. Tamil Nadu Chief
Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi has also blamed the LTTE for the
failure to find a solution to the Sri Lankan Tamil problem so
Writing in his column in Murasoli, a Tamil newspaper owned by
the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Karunanidhi said: “A
solution to the Sri Lankan Tamils’ problem could not be found
yet because the LTTE acted in wrong ways, heeding the wrong
advice of wrong people in Tamil Nadu.” Right now, the only
advice that they should give the LTTE is to lay down arms and
surrender. In the meantime, Indian authorities should crack down
hard on LTTE activists in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere.
Protect the mangroves
The tsunami of December 26, 2004, devastated many
coastal areas in Sri Lanka. Curiously, the tsunami spared
several areas which had mangroves - dense forests of
salt-resistant trees and shrubs that grow in brackish, low-lying
coastal swamps in the tropics and subtropics.
This clearly manifested in Bangladesh, which recorded very
low casualties thanks to an extensive network of mangroves in
all coastal areas. Just four years on, we seem to have forgotten
this fact. A recent UNDP study in Pakistan has reaffirmed that
mangroves play a vital role in minimizing the damage caused by
We reported yesterday that commercial considerations are
taking a heavy toll on the mangrove swamps in Sri Lanka.
Although the tsunami is an extreme example, Mangrove plants
generally help in water flow and enhancing the possession of
sediments in the water system. Mangroves prevent sea erosion as
well and provide a livelihood to fishermen and other coastal
Protecting the mangroves is also environmentally important as
they contain very rare plant species. Evidence has also surfaced
that villages shielded by mangrove forests fare better than
other areas in cyclones and storms. A study in Orissa, India has
revealed that areas protected by mangrove forests experienced
significantly fewer deaths in a super-cyclone than did
The destruction of the mangroves, unauthorized constructions
and land reclamation in coastal areas pose a grave threat.
Discharging domestic and industrial effluents to the sea also
affects the mangroves.
Stringent laws must be passed to stop such activities if the
present laws are inadequate. Better still, the Environment
Ministry and the Coastal Conservation Department should launch
an awareness program over the electronic and print media to
highlight the importance of the mangrove forests.
Their officers should also visit the coastal areas to educate
coastal dwellers. The tsunami of 2004 was a bitter lesson that
should spur us to protect and nurture the mangroves instead of
destroying it. That should not be the responsibility of the
authorities alone. All nature loving citizens should speak up
against the destruction of the mangroves and lend a hand to stop