The Government of India, under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, has proscribed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as an ‘Unlawful Association’. 

The declaration of LTTE as an ‘Unlawful Association’ has been extended for a further period of five years with effect from May 14, 2014.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam commonly known as theLTTE or the Tamil Tigers  militant organisation that was based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in May 1976 byVelupillai Prabhakaran, it waged a secessionist nationalist campaign to create an independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka for Tamil people. This campaign evolved into the Sri Lankan Civil War, which ran from 1983 until 2009, when the LTTE was defeated by the Sri Lankan Military. 

At the height of its power, the LTTE possessed a well-developed militia and carried out many high-profile attacks, including theassassinations of several high-ranking Sri Lankan and Indian politicians. The LTTE was the only militant group to assassinate two world leaders:  Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993 and former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, were integral parts of its pursuit to create a monoethnic Tamil Eelam. 

The LTTE invented the suicide belts and pioneered the use of women in suicide attacks, It was the first militant group to acquire air power and used light aircraft in some of its attacks. As a result of its tactics, it is currently proscribed as a terrorist organisation by 32 countries, including India, but has support amongst some Tamils in Tamil Nadu in India.[14] University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) alleges that the LTTE has killed at least 8,000 fellow Tamils they accused of being traitors. LTTE founder Velupillai Prabhakaran headed the organisation from its inception until his death in 2009.


Historical inter ethnic imbalances between majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil populations created the background for the origin of the LTTE. Post independent Sri Lankan governments attempts to rectify the disproportionate favoring and empowerment of Tamil minority by the colonial rulers, led to exclusivist ethnic policies,[10] including the ″Sinhala only act″ and gave rise to separatist ideologies among many Tamil leaders. By the 1970s, initial non violent political struggle for an independent monoethnic Tamil state, gave away to a violent secessionist campaign led by the LTTE. Over the course of the conflict, the Tamil Tigers frequently exchanged control of territory in north-east Sri Lanka with the Sri Lankan military, with the two sides engaging in fierce military confrontations. It was involved in four unsuccessful rounds of peace talks with the Sri Lankan government over the course of the conflict. At its peak in 2000, the LTTE was in control of 76% of the landmass in the Northern and EasternProvinces of Sri Lanka.


At the start of the final round of peace talks in 2002, the Tamil Tigers, with control of 15,000 km2 area, ran a virtual mini-state. After the breakdown of the peace process in 2006, the Sri Lankan military launched a major offensive against the Tigers, defeating the LTTE militarily and bringing the entire country under its control. Victory over the Tigers was declared by Sri Lankan PresidentMahinda Rajapaksa on 16 May 2009,and the LTTE admitted defeat on 17 May 2009.  Prabhakaran was killed by government forces on 19 May 2009. Selvarasa Pathmanathan succeeded Prabhakaran as leader of the LTTE; he was arrested in Malaysia and handed over to the Sri Lankan government in August 2009.

Proscription as a terrorist group

32 countries have listed the LTTE as a terrorist organisation. As of January 2009, these include:

  •  India (since 1992)
  •  United States (designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the Department of State since 8 October 1997. Named as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist(SDGT) since 2 November 2001)
  •  United Kingdom (designated a Proscribed Terrorist Group under the Terrorism Act 2000 by the Home Secretary since 2000)[151]
  •  European Union (since 2006; 27 countries)
  •  Canada (since 2006) Canada does not grant residency to LTTE members on the grounds that they have participated in crimes against humanity.
  •  Sri Lanka (from January 1998 to 4 September 2002, and again from 7 January 2009)

The first country to ban the LTTE was its former ally, India. The Indian change of policy came gradually, starting with the IPKF-LTTE conflict, and culminating with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. India opposes the new state Tamil Eelam that LTTE wants to establish, saying that it would lead to Tamil Nadu’s separation from India though the leaders of Tamil Nadu are opposing it. Sri Lanka itself lifted the ban on the LTTE before signing the ceasefire agreement in 2002. This was a prerequisite set by the LTTE for the signing of the agreement. Indian Government extended the ban on LTTE considering their strong anti-India posture and threat to the security to Indian nationals.

The European Union banned LTTE as a terrorist organisation on 17 May 2006. In a statement, the European Parliament said that the LTTE did not represent all the Tamils and called on it to “allow for political pluralism and alternate democratic voices in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka”.