Thursday, January 24, 2008

Overseas militants and security concerns

G. Anand

Strife in Sri Lanka to have a bearing on State

The last part of a three-part series.

Thiruvananthapuram: The strife in Sri Lanka and the presence of Islamic terrorist groups in the Maldives have a bearing on Kerala’s security, official sources say.

Militant organisations fighting the Sri Lankan government are believed to be procuring fuel, chemicals such as ammonium nitrate (a fertilizer that could also be used for making bombs), medicines, vehicle parts, welding equipment, tools and metal balls (for possible use as projectiles in improvised explosive devices) and other articles from Kerala.

Official sources say the stuff, procured in bulk through certain business fronts, is ferried in fishing boats to militant-controlled territories in Sri Lanka. The same sea routes are used for smuggling heroin (sourced from across India’s border) to Sri Lanka. So far, there is no evidence of Kerala’s coastline being used for arms smuggling.

Maldivian links

Intelligence officials say there is the possibility of anti-Maldivian government elements, particularly operatives of Jamaat-ul-Muslimeen (a Maldives-based terrorist group) seeking refuge in Kerala or using its territory to plan operations against the island nation’s rulers.

Mooas Inas, a Maldivian national accused of triggering an explosive device in the island nation in September 2007, is suspected to have visited Thiruvananthapuram in 2005 before crossing over to Pakistan to meet leaders of a terrorist outfit. In 2005, the police arrested and deported a 30-year-old Maldivian national, Ibrahim Asif, on the charge of attempting to procure arms and explosives from Kerala.

Intelligence officials are also concerned about the possible presence of foreign terrorist elements in Kerala. In the past 10 years, 41 Pakistani nationals are reported to have gone “out of view” in Malappuram district.

Officials say a majority of them, who had come to visit their relatives, are believed to have left the country without informing the district police. However, at least a few of them could have migrated to the Gulf and other foreign countries after fraudulently procuring Indian passports.

Left extremism

The police are concerned that Left extremists fleeing the ongoing anti-naxalite action in Andhra Pradesh could seek refuge in Kerala.

The CPI (ML) Naxalbari and CPI (Maoist) have been active in Kerala for the past 10 years, allegedly through front organisations such as Porattam and Ayyankali Pada.

However, their pockets of influence are very limited and do not pose a threat to the State security as of now. Some of their activists had tried to exploit the discontent of a section of people in Vypeen island who were distressed over the lack of easy availability of drinking water. But, they could not make any inroads there.

The State police have stepped up their vigil along Kerala’s porous borders. Migrant workers in plantation areas and urban centres are being verified. Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has said the police will verify people from other regions living in Kerala without intruding into their privacy.

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