|Tigers received explosives, aviation gasoline from India|
Although China’s Norinco had been the Tigers’ largest single supplier of arms, including all its artillery pieces and dedicated equipment such as four barrelled 14.5 mm anti-aircraft guns (ZPU 4), the group throughout Eelam war had maintained an Indian supply line which brought in a range of warlike items.
Supplies from India had been as important as heavy armaments from China in sustaining the LTTE fighting capacity. The LTTE depended heavily on the Indian supply line, particularly during the three-year-old eelam war IV spearheaded by the then army chief General Sarath Fonseka. LTTE operatives in charge of procuring critically needed items had facilitated the transfer of supplies across the Gulf of Mannar to LTTE bases along the north-western coastline located north of Mannar up to Pooneryn. The navy, though causing severe damage on LTTE units engaged in the operation had failed to completely cut off supplies, primarily because the enemy effectively exploited the cover of Tamil Nadu fishermen. Heavy presence of Indian fishermen had seriously hindered SLN operations and on one occasion the LTTE took advantage of their presence in Sri Lankan waters to direct a suicide attack at an Inshore Patrol Craft (IPC) killing several navy men.
It was part of their strategy to discourage the navy from interfering with their operations.
It is no secret that the LTTE operated alongside the Tamil Nadu fishing fleet and in some instances used their vessels and also hired them. Once the navy captured an Indian fisherman after sinking a trawler carrying ammunition but a section of Indian officialdom played politics with the issue, thereby helping the LTTE to survive a little bit longer.
The army brought the Mannar-Pooneryn stretch under its control by last November causing the collapse of the sea supply route but by then the LTTE had smuggled in massive stocks of warlike items.
The navy caused considerable damage on the LTTE network by regularly intercepting trawlers bringing in supplies. The navy seized and destroyed altogether about a dozen trawlers between January 26, 2006 and February 16 2007 before going on to wipe out the LTTE merchant fleet on the high seas. The LTTE operatives based in Tamil Nadu had operated brazenly until the LTTE massacred a group of Indian fishermen off the Kanyakumari coast in early 2007. The Tamil Nadu government and a section of the Indian press had made abortive attempts to blame it (massacre) on a third party.
Despite stepping up of naval operations to curtail sea supply movements across the Indo-Lanka maritime boundary, the LTTE had brought in large quantities of warlike material of Indian origin. The LTTE also used to re-route armaments coming from its other suppliers through Indian waters and in support of this exercise it engaged a section of the Tamil Nadu fishing community. Had India acted swiftly and decisively, she could have destroyed the LTTE network and speeded up the Tigers’ collapse. The bottom line is that the LTTE wouldn’t have lasted even three years.