Tamil National Retrieval Troops (TNRT)
The Tamil National Retrieval Troops (TNRT) is a fringe, Tamil secessionist group that is believed to be functioning since the late eighties in the southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu, though its exact date of founding is not known. It has been proscribed under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), 2002.
The TNRT was formed with the objective of fighting for an independent homeland for Tamils in India. Reports also held that the TNRT would seek to eventually extend the boundaries of the Tamil nation to form a greater Tamil nation including what now comprises Tamil Nadu and the areas in Sri Lanka, which the LTTE claims constitute Tamil Eelam.
Areas of Activity and Influence
The TNRT’s areas of activity include isolated pockets of Tamil Nadu, and parts of Tamil-speaking areas in neighbouring Karnataka State.
The Tamil National Retrieval Troops was founded by Ravi alias P. Ravichandran. He was an accused in the 1990-murder, in Chennai, of Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) general secretary Padmanabha and the 1991-assassination in Sriperambadur of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Ravi was sentenced for life by in October 1999 in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Since Ravi’s imprisonment, it is not known who has been providing leadership to TNRT cadres
The TNRT was initially made up of some 30 cadres, predominantly from the Vanniyar community, and was set up in the late-1980s. In the early nineties this group had a sizeable presence but its support base dwindled after the LTTE was banned in India. The LTTE’s intelligence-wing chief, Pottu Amman, is believed to have personally trained some among the TNRT’s cadres. It was discovered by official sources in May 1990 that batches of Tamilians were being sent to Sri Lanka, trained there by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and smuggled back into Tamil Nadu. It was reported that this continued through end 1990 and early 1991.
The TNRT has close ties with the LTTE. The group also has linkages with forest brigand Veerappan, which came to light when a Kannada actor, Rajkumar, was abducted by the brigand and his men for ransom in the year 2000. It is also linked to the Tamil Nadu Liberation Army (TNLA), another fringe Tamil, secessionist group.
The TNRT is involved in terrorist, secessionist and smuggling activities. In December 1998, the TNRT, in what is perhaps its best-known action, joined hands with forest brigand Veerappan, attacked a police station in Vellithirippur, Tamil Nadu, and looted weapons.