By P C Vinoj Kumar/ The Weekend Leader –
In an incident that has deepened suspicions about the alleged espionage activities of members of the Sri Lankan consulate in Chennai, activists of Makkal Mandram, a Kanchipuram based organization working among tribals, dalits and other downtrodden sections, have complained that a team of intelligence men from the embassy travelling in a SUV with registration plate number 6 CC 3966 tried to take unauthorized photos of their office and escaped at breakneck speed, almost running over a ten-year-old boy when questioned.
The Sri Lankan embassy is alleged to have conducted a recce to gather intelligence on the organization, whose member Senkodi immolated herself in August last year demanding commutation of the death sentence of the three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, Perarivalan, Santhan, and Murugan.
There have been baseless allegations in Sri Lanka in the recent past that LTTE cadres are being trained in Tamil Nadu.
The Kanchipuram incident, said to have taken place on Friday, is being seen as an independent operation by Sri Lankan intelligence personnel to probe if any such camp was located in the State.
According to Makkal Mandram, “on 27.04.2012, at around 9.50 am, a navy blue Scorpio bearing registration plate number 6 CC 3966 came to our office at Sengodiyur Village in Kancheepuram. There were seven persons in it including the driver. There were six men and one woman (with short hair, boy-cut style) in the vehicle.”
Makkal Mandram’s Jessy Gloria, an engineer turned activist, said the occupants had started taking pictures of their office from inside the vehicle, without lowering the glass windows.
When their members rushed towards the vehicle, the driver took off at high speed, narrowly missing a ten-year-old boy who got out of the vehicle’s way in the nick of time.
The group had then alerted two of their team members at Kanchipuram town, who managed to intercept the vehicle. “But they escaped assaulting one of our members who tried to open the door,” said Jessy.
Later, a Chennai based documentary film maker Santosh Gopal, a class mate of Jessy in college, traced the vehicle to the Sri Lankan consulate and lodged a complaint with officials at the embassy.
“I said their vehicle bearing registration number, 6 CC 3966, had hit a boy. They admitted the vehicle belonged to them and spoke to the occupants of the vehicle in Sinhalese.
“I heard words like ‘intelligence’ being used in the conversation. They asked for details of the boy. I gave them the details and returned. The Sub-Inspector on duty at the embassy is witness to the incident,” said Santosh.
The Superintendent of Police, Kanchipuram District, S Manoharan, said he was not aware about the incident.
When contacted, the secretary to the Sri Lankan deputy high commissioner denied that any such incident took place.
However, the police officer on duty at the consulate confirmed that Santosh had visited the consulate in connection with the incident.
The incident raises serious issues of misuse of diplomatic privileges by Sri Lankan officials in Chennai and calls for urgent measures from the State and Central Governments to rein in the notorious intelligence operatives in the Lankan embassy.