Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko on Monday evening left from Chennai for Sanchi in a convoy of buses to hold what he calls a “peaceful demonstration” against the presence of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the world heritage site.
Rajapaksa would be in Sanchi to lay the foundation stone of the proposed Buddhist studies center on September 21. The MDMK and other parties based in Tamil Nadu are opposed to the Sri Lankan president’s visit as they hold him responsible for the death of thousands of Tamils in Sri Lanka towards the final stages of the civil war.
Vaiko, along with nearly 2,000 MDMK party workers is slated to reach Bhopal on September 19-20 after traveling nearly 1,500 km by road via Hyderabad and Nagpur. He had earlier written to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan asking him to not let Rajapaksa lay the foundation stone of the proposed study centre. Chouhan on Saturday replied to Vaiko urging him to give up his opposition saying that the proposed study centre is an attempt at forging peaceful relations between various countries in Asia.
Speaking to HT, MDMK spokesperson Nand Maran said that Vaiko had received the chief minister’s reply but added, “we cannot compromise on the issue.”
“We express strong opposition to the foundation stone laying ceremony by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. We will hold a peaceful black-flag demonstration at Sanchi through democratic traditions,” he said. Vaiko’s convoy started from the Annadurai memorial at Marina beach in Chennai. Other leaders and workers of the MDMK would join the agitation from Delhi and Mumbai also.
Senior police officials in Bhopal said that they were monitoring the situation and the response to Vaiko would be worked out by Tuesday. “He may be stopped at the border or allowed in depending on inputs from other security agencies,” said a police officer.