Lawyers protest attacks on Sri Lankan Tamils


Chennai : More than 5,000 lawyers across Tamil Nadu Monday staged protests denouncing Sri Lanka’s war against the Tamil Tigers which they said had caused civilian deaths and suffering.

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According to police sources, besides boycotting courts, the advocates burnt effigies of Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, organised hunger strikes and blocked rail and road traffic in many places.

While there was no official word on arrests, a senior police official told IANS that the situation in Tamil Nadu was “totally peaceful”.

Colleges and college hostels all over Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry were deserted Monday following their closure by the government to prevent the students’ further participation in the protests.

Establishments belonging to Sri Lankan nationals and its diplomatic mission were under heavy police protection for the third consecutive day, according to official sources.

The Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Movement and Tamil National Movement leader Pazha Nedumaran reiterated his group’s resolve to go ahead with the Wednesday strike in Tamil Nadu. Feb 4 is Sri Lanka’s independence day.

“Our call for a bandh is to register the anger of the Tamil people here against the inaction of the (central government). Further, the state government is compounding its errors by claiming a blanket ban on bandhs by the Supreme Court,” he said.

Nedumaran spoke in Cuddalore, 200 km south of Chennai, on the sidelines of his visit to the seaside town to meet the parents of D. Dayalan alias Neethivalavan, a 21-year-old who jumped from a telecommunication tower on Sunday over New Delhi’s inability to end the war in Sri Lanka.

MDMK leader Vaiko slammed the state and central governments. He was in Madurai, 250 km south of here, attending a condolence meeting to mourn the death of another youth who committed suicide on the same cause.

“Countries like Norway, Germany and Canada where there are virtually no Tamils have demanded an immediate halt to killings of civilians in Sri Lanka. India has not heeded the feelings of seven crore (70 million) Tamils in this state. Worse, the Tamil Nadu government is justifying the inaction,” Vaiko said.

Sri Lanka’s military offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has sparked tensions in Tamil Nadu, where the LTTE and other Tamil groups once had offices and training camps. A narrow strip of sea divides Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu.