Huge cache of arms, ammunition unearthed in Rameswaram

Huge cache of arms, ammunition unearthed in Rameswaram

Police display the huge consignment of ammunition and explosives recovered near Thangachimadam, in Rameswaram on Monday evening. PTI

The ghosts of 'safe haven' for Sri Lanka-based terror outfits in the 1980s have returned to haunt Tamil Nadu with the recovery of more than 50 boxes of abandoned ammunition, machine guns and detonators from a private farm in the tiny island of Rameswaram.

Recovery of the ammunition and guns, which are at least 20 to 25 years old, from the private farm of a fisherman where a septic tank was being dug has brought back the memories of the bloody civil war between Sri Lankan forces and Tamil groups, especially the once dreaded Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and their illegal activities in Tamil Nadu.

Besides ammunition, 41 light machine guns, 22 machine guns, five landmines trinitrotoluene detonators, and detonator launchers were recovered from the farmland in Thangachimadam near Rameswaram, 560 km from here, during the search that began on Monday evening and ended in the wee hours of Tuesday.

“We got information from the landowner that he has found ammunition and weapons while digging a septic tank in his farm. Our forces rushed and recovered all of them. They are at least 20 to 25 years old. Most probably, they belong to the LTTE era,” Om Prakash Meena, Superintendent of Police, Ramanathapuram district, told DH.

While a section of Tamil Nadu BJP leaders attempted to connect the ammunition recovered to the Thoothukudi violence last month, Meena said the ammunition and weapons could be decades-old since they could find roots of trees growing on the boxes when they dug out.

At the height of the civil war in Sri Lanka in the 1980s, Tamil Nadu allegedly served as safe havens for terror groups that fought the island nation's army.

Sources said the weapons could have been left by Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) or Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPLRF) – which had their base in the island – when they left India in 1990 after the IPKF fiasco.

Though LTTE was the most influential and feared group among that fought the Sri Lankan Army, the Velupillai Prabhakaran-led group had functioned mostly from Kodiyakarai in Nagapattinam district and not from Rameswaram, the sources said.