[HCDX] India expresses concern over broadcasting facility for Tigers
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[HCDX] India expresses concern over broadcasting facility for Tigers

India expresses concern over broadcasting facility for Tigers

India has expressed its serious "concern" to Sri Lanka over the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam acquiring modern equipment for its clandestine Voice
of Tigers broadcasting station via Norwegian diplomatic channels, the Sunday
Times newspaper reported yesterday.

Quoting diplomatic sources, the newspaper said that India's Foreign Secretary
Kanwal Sibal, who was on an official visit to Colombo last week, raised the
matter during a meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Despite Sri Lankan government claims that the radio station had only a
limited range, India's "concern" has been heightened by the distinct
possibility of the equipment being upgraded to reach areas in the southern
Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Exacerbating these "concerns" of the government of India, the newspaper said
was the apparent cloak of high secrecy over the transfer of six tons of
broadcasting equipment.

Although one of the Sri Lankan government's peace negotiators, Minister
Milinda Moragoda, regularly visited the Indian capital before and after every
round of peace talks with the rebels in recent months, no mention had been
made of the transfer of the broadcasting equipment.

India had learnt of the move for the first time only from the opposition
party in Sri Lanka. This was after Parliamentarian Anura Bandaranaike, who
was a member of a three-member People's Alliance delegation, briefed Indian
leaders late last month.

The Sunday Times stated that the questions on how the broadcasting equipment,
said to be worth millions of rupees, was procured and handed over to the LTTE
without payment of any import duty have become a subject of concern not only
for the government of India, but also the opposition.

Several questions are being raised. Who raised the funds to procure the
broadcasting equipment? Were diplomatic norms and procedures not violated
when an embassy in Colombo imports such equipment, clears it without duty
and hands it over to a private organisation?

Since diplomatic cargo is not subject to Customs inspection, was the
container with the broadcasting equipment examined? These were among the many
questions that are being asked, the newspaper said in its front-page story.

LTTE's FM radio station

Sri Lanka has issued a license to LTTE to set up a broadcasting station in
the northern town of Kilinochchi and assigned an FM frequency, a weekly
newspaper said today.

The license was issued to the rebel group's 'Peace Secretariat' "to maintain
and operate a private broadcasting station for which equipment worth more
than $100,000 was imported by the LTTE last month, the Sunday Leader said.

The newspaper said the Tigers were keen to legalise their clandestine 'Voice
of Tigers' and had sought a license to "disseminate news to Tamil people on
the ongoing peace process."

In a communication to LTTE 'peace secretariat', which was reproduced in the
weekly, the Mass Communications Ministry secretary has said the "licensee
shall provide broadcasting programmes in accordance with the norms, standards
and code of ethics followed by the state-owned Sri Lanka
Broadcasting Corporation.

The import of the equipment had raised concerns in India as to whether the
group, outlawed in India, would use it to broadcast propaganda in Tamil Nadu
to gain support for itself.

However, India has taken the view that it will not be unduly worried as long
as the broadcasting facilities were only for FM transmission, which are only
specified frequencies with limited range.

An LTTE cultural wing functionary had recently said the rebel radio had
expansion plans to cover South India and Singapore. (PTI)