MDMK chief Vaiko and hundreds of his supporters were stopped at Pandhurna in Chhindwara district near the MP-Maharashtra border on Wednesday.
However, what alarmed the administrative machinery was the fact that nearly half-a-dozen suspected Tamil activists appeared in Salamatpur, barely 5 km from Sanchi where Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa and several other dignitaries are to lay the foundation stone of an international Buddhist university on Friday.
Vaiko entered Madhya Pradesh from Maharashtra and was stopped at Chhindwara district at around 4 pm. He was travelling with more than 700 supporters in 27 buses, which drove all the way from Chennai.
After being stopped, the MDMK supremo, along with his supporters, sat on a dharna on NH-69, carrying black flags and placards with messages against Rajapaksa. The MDMK blames the president for the killing of Tamils in Sri Lanka during the civil war and has been vehemently opposing his presence in Sanchi.
“This is our country but we are being stopped from entering the state of Madhya Pradesh. We can’t enter Bhopal but the killers of Tamils are invited here and are free to go to Sanchi,” said Vaiko while sitting on the roadside in Pandhurna, where prohibitory orders have been imposed. “No can stop us from going to Sanchi,” he added.
Inspector-General of Police V Madhukumar, Jabalpur range, told HT: “We told them that there is a fine line regarding law and order and they shouldn’t cross it -- which they understood and sat on a dharna which is peaceful. We are holding talks with them.”
MDMK spokesperson Nanmaran told HT from Chennai that Vaiko had been speaking to government officials for permission to stage a protest at a designated spot in Sanchi. “We only want to hold a peaceful protest,” the spokesperson said.
While Vaiko has been kept confined near the border, the state police is worried about the fact that some of his supporters had reached Raisen district where Sanchi is located. Six persons were stopped at Salamatpur on suspicion, said superintendent of police IP Kulshreshtha.
Sanchi, a Unesco world heritage site, has been turned into a veritable fortress on the eve of the high-profile event. Police personnel have been posted at almost every 100 metres on either side of the road for the entire distance of 45 kms from Bhopal to Sanchi. Battalions of the special armed force (SAF) have been deployed from as far away as Chhindwara and Dhar. All of Wednesday, the police carried out mock drills. Mobile command and control centers as well as medical infrastructure have been moved in.