Tamil Nadu traders’ chief held for forcing shutdown


Chennai : The chief of Tamil Nadu traders’ federation was arrested here Friday for allegedly forcing establishments across the state to shut for a day to seek India’s intervention in Sri Lanka’s conflict, police said.

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Vellaiyyan was taken into custody because the federation forced closure of shops and eateries with the help of political parties sympathetic to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a police official said.

Members of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had made the compalint against Vellaiyyan, who however claimed before his arrest that the over 5,500 bodies affiliated to the federation – with a membership of 2.5 million members — voluntarily took part in the protest.

The federation is demanding India’s intervention to end the killings of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka.

Most shops were closed not only all over Tamil Nadu but also in neighbouring Puducherry Friday. The protest was backed by Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, an ally of the ruling DMK, and several trade unions.

Vellaiyyan justified the protest saying the traders’ shutdown was just because the ruling DMK MPs’ threat to resign from the Indian parliament lapsed without halting the conflict in Sri Lanka.

The Tamil Nadu government, meanwhile, said that no individual or private organisation was authorised to collect relief materials for Sri Lankan Tamils.

The government has so far collected over Rs.32 million in the last three days as relief for Sri Lankan Tamils, according to a government statement.