George Fernandes’ support for Myanmarese rebels as well as the ltte is legion. Fresh investigations by Outlook reveal that not only are the seas off the Andamans being used in the drugs-arms trade but the deserted Landsfall Island and St Martin’s Island in the archipelago are two main transit points in the trade. The free use of the islands comes courtesy Fernandes, following his ministry’s 1998 order that the army and navy should not act against vessels passing through the Andamans.
An ltte member with an assumed name of Coffee Selvam is identified as the main coordinator for these operations. Selvam arranges for the arms and the drugs shipment and liaises with the local arms dealers based in Singapore and Thailand. The operation in a nutshell: the ltte ships that carry arms and narcotics separate at Landsfall and St Martin, with the arms going northwards towards Bangladesh on their way to Myanmar and northeast India. The drug shipments head towards Jaffna and from there to various destinations in West Asia for entry into the European and US markets. According to intelligence sources, Ranong Island off the coast of Thailand is the staging point for arms shipments that originate from Cambodia and take the sea route through the Andamans to the major receiving point at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh’s southernmost tip.