Chennai, Feb 14 (IANS) Authorities have seized two boats loaded with bomb-making materials and 100 kg of explosives off the Tamil Nadu coast and arrested seven people suspected of helping the outlawed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Two people were arrested Tuesday after Indian Navy seized a boat carrying about 100 kg of explosives, off the Rameswaram coast, about 650 km from here.
The boat, which was caught near the Fifth Island, close to Adam's Bridge, off Dhanushkodi, carried a large amount of aluminium bars, other metals, scraps, rubber spares, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), fuse wire remote control devices stashed in 92 gunny bags.
It contained about 2,860 kg of aluminium and neoprene rubber for IEDs. "We can be sure that all these are meant for some militant outfit," Commander Subroto Mukherjee, heading the naval detachment at Rameswaram told the media. He called the items seized as "contraband of war".
According to police, the arrested have admitted that LTTE agents based in Tuticorin had procured the material and paid for the transportation.
Commodore Philip E. Van Haltren, naval officer in charge of the Tamil Nadu coast said, "This is the first seizure of such military hardware from the sea".
He said this was the biggest catch so far.
In another incident Monday night Indian Coast Guard officials seized another boat, off the coast of the holy town of Velankanni, in Nagapattinam district, about 450 km south of Chennai.
Two Indians and three Sri Lankans found on the boat were arrested.
One AK-56 riffle, five grenades and 124 live rounds of ammunition were seized from them, East Coast Commander I.P. Singh told reporters.
The Tamil Nadu police Jan 23 arrested five Sri Lankans and three Indians for smuggling ball bearings. These had been brought by train from Mumbai to Chennai and were to be taken to Sri Lanka via Tuticorin, police said.
Yet another man was arrested a week ago for attempting to smuggle three bags of steel balls from the Rameswaram coast.
The Indian Navy seized three live rocket shells from the Bay of Bengal in December. These were meant for the LTTE, officials here said.
In November, the police had seized 1,500 kg of gelex boosters from a car near Madurai.
All coastal authorities including the Navy and the Coast Guard have been put on high alert following the seizure of the boats, police said.