Tamil actor Rajinikanth on Saturday announced that he has decided against attending a controversial event in Sri Lanka after facing criticism from regional groups, including the Viduthalai Chriuthaigal Katchi (VCK) and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK).
“I will not participate in the event, although I disagree with the reasons given by MDMK and VCK leaders Vaiko and Thirumavalavan,” the actor said in a statement.
The actor maintained that he wanted to visit Sri Lanka to interact with Sri Lankan Tamils and participate in a charity-related project that will benefit them. “I also wanted to see the soil where Tamils shed their blood to gain self-respect and self-determination,” the popular actor, also known as Thalaivar (leader) to his fans, added.
Rajinikanth was supposed to launch a housing scheme for Tamils displaced by the Sri Lankan civil war in Jaffna on April 9. He was also slated to hand over the keys to 150 houses built by the Lyca Group’s Gnanam Foundation to beneficiaries of the project.
Thirumavalavan had warned Rajinikanth on Friday that attending the event would “anger the Tamil community”.
“I have no personal agenda against Rajinikanth. We are good friends. But I strongly oppose his decision to visit Sri Lanka and participate in an event organised by Lyca, which has business ties with the Sri Lankan government,” the VCK leader said, noting that the island nation was yet to rehabilitate Tamils displaced by the war or bring people guilty of alleged human rights violations to justice.
Though the civil war ended eight years ago, many in Tamil Nadu still harbour the ‘Tamil Eelam’ dream. Several political groups also retain a measure of anger over the war.
Rajinikanth, however, made it clear that he will not reconsider attending an event of the sort again. “I would like to say that I am not a politician, but an actor,” he said. “Making people happy is my job, and if I get an opportunity to meet Sri Lankan Tamils in the future, I would be grateful if you don’t politicise the issue.”