`India was concerned over LTTE radio equipment`
Colombo: India had expressed concern to the Sri Lankan government on allowing the Tamil Tigers to import radio equipment amid fears that it would equip the LTTE "broadcasts to reach Tamil Nadu," a secret cable from the US embassy here has revealed.
The diplomatic cable leaked by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks said the government, headed by the prime minister Ranil Wickremasinghe in 2002, had requested assistance of the Royal Norwegian government, the facilitator of the troubled peace process, to import radio equipment for the LTTE`s radio "Voice of Tigers" during the ceasefire period.
A worried India had expressed concern to the government over the issue.
"The Indian government reportedly has expressed concerns to the GSL that the equipment will allow LTTE broadcasts to reach Tamil Nadu," the cable said.
It was believed that the equipment were to allow the VOT radio to upgrade its FM capability.
"At this time, the Voice of the Tigers had very limited FM and short-wave capabilities, allowing the station to be dimly heard in parts of the north and east...Some press reports state that the FM-upgrade equipment cost about USD 90,000 and that the equipment was bought in Singapore.
It is not clear what range the new equipment will allow the ` Voice of the Tigers` to have," the secret American document said.
"The equipment in question was brought into Colombo harbor last month in a shipping container. Because the consignment was for the Norwegian Embassy, no duty was paid," according to the cables published in the media.
The whistleblower website said the "Norwegian Embassy has confirmed that it turned the consignment over to the GSL’s Peace Secretariat, which then passed the items over to the LTTE with the assistance of the Defense Ministry".
At some point in this process, the LTTE’s radio station, the "Voice of the Tigers" was legalized by the GSL as a private entity and given permission to broadcast," the cable said.
Wickremesinghe`s government was targeted by the opposition groups for allowing the radio equipment as a demonstration of the then prime minister`s appeasement of the rebel group.
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