The Centre on Tuesday extended the ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for another five years under sub-sections (1) and (3) of Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (37 of 1967) with immediate effect.
The UAPA is India’s primary anti-terror law — described as “an Act to provide for the more effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations, and for dealing with terrorist activities, and for matters connected therewith”.
Section 3 of the UAPA deals with the “declaration of an association as unlawful”, and specifies that notifications by the government making such a declaration “shall specify the grounds on which it is issued and such other particulars as the Central government may consider necessary”.
The notification extending the ban on the LTTE on Tuesday said, according to an official release, that the organisation’s “continued violent and disruptive activities are prejudicial to the integrity and sovereignty of India; and it continues to adopt a strong anti-India posture as also continues to pose a grave threat to the security of Indian nationals”.
Organisations banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) under Section 3 of the UAPA are listed in the First Schedule of the Act. The latest version of the list, published on the MHA website, contains 41 entries, including, apart from the LTTE, Khalistani terrorist organisations, Pakistan-based terror groups, several militant organisations of the Northeast, Kashmiri separatist organisations, Maoist groups, Islamic State or Daesh, Indian Mujahideen and the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
The LTTE was founded in 1976 by Velupillai Prabhakaran with the goal of creating an independent Tamil Eelam out of Sri Lanka. From clashes with the Sri Lankan military, the LTTE in the early 80s launched a fullscale nationalist insurgency in the north and east of the country, carrying out a string of major terrorist attacks against both military and civilian targets.
India’s relationship with the LTTE was complex — from providing support to the guerrillas initially to sending the Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka from 1987 to 1990. The LTTE pioneered suicide bombing as a weapon of terror, and in 1991, an LTTE suicide bomber killed Rajiv Gandhi in an attack on Indian soil. Among the other high-profile assassinations carried out by the Tamil Tigers was that of the Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993.
The LTTE, which freely used women and children in combat, controlled, at its peak, over three-quarters of Sri Lanka’s northern and eastern provinces. The organisation was finally crushed in a ruthless military offensive by the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2009.
The LTTE was designated as a terrorist organisation by 32 countries, including, besides India, the United States, Canada, and the European Union. The US designated the LTTE as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) in 1997. India first banned the LTTE after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi; the ban was last extended for five years in 2014.