In a setback to DMK chief M Karunanidhi, city police have refused permission to the much-hyped controversial pro-Eelam TESO meet on Sri Lankan Tamils called by him in Chennai on Sunday.
The police action came hours after the Centre and the Jayalalithaa Government raised certain objections in the Madras High Court on Friday particularly to the use of the word "Eelam" (separate home land for Tamils) in the meet's title.
Police have denied permission on various grounds which cannot be divulged as the matter was sub-judice, Chennai Police Commissioner JK Tripathy told PTI on Saturday.
Putting up a brave face, the 88-year old DMK patriarch, who is trying to resuscitate the defunct Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation floated by him in the 80s, said all legal steps would be taken for holding the meet as scheduled.
Karunanidhi, who went into a huddle with his senior party colleagues to discuss the police action, said the Police Commissioner's order mentioned they had information that LTTE activists and other extremist organisations might take part in the meet but dismissed their apprehension as "totally untrue".
Eelam signifies the separate nationhood concept from Sri Lanka, the core of armed struggle by the now decimated LTTE, which is not in consonance with India's stand on the ethnic issue in Sri Lanka.
Karunanidhi had formed TESO in the wake of murderous attacks on minority Tamils in Sri Lanka in the 80s and revived it recently in the backdrop of war crime charges against the island nation during its battle against LTTE in 2009.
Controversy has hit the pro-Eelam meet with Congress, a key ally of DMK in the ruling UPA, dissociating itself from it while Karunanidhi himself had done flip-flops after first stating that the meet would adopt a resolution on Eelam only to clarify it would discuss steps for the livelihood of Tamils.
The External Affairs Ministry in a letter dated August 9, 2012 to TESO had said it had no objection to the meet from "political angle" but with a rider that the word "Eelam" may be dropped from the title of the conference, expected to be attended by several Sri Lankan Tamil leaders.
"The Ministry has no objection from political angle, for the proposed international conference, with foreign participants, with the proviso that 'Eelam' may be dropped from the title of the conference and subject to clearance of Ministry of Home Affairs and other competent authorities," the communication from R K Nagpal, Deputy Secretary (Coordination) in the Ministry said.
However, the DMK chief has denied receiving any such directive by the TESO, which had requested political clearance for the conference from the MEA.
The Centre had also told the high court that it would not allow the organisers, including DMK, to use the word 'Eelam' in the heading of the international conference, while the state government said it may deny permission for the event as the venue was not big enough to accommodate the number of people expected to attend it.
Karunanidhi said in a statement certain efforts were being made to thwart the conference despite the organisers making it clear that it was only aimed at taking up issues relating to the livelihood of Sri Lankan Tamils.
Karunanidhi said they would approach "all judicial forums" and explain their position and seek justice. TESO would take a decision based on the judicial outcome, he added.
Meanwhile, Karunanidhi found an unlikely ally in MDMK founder Vaiko, who while describing the conference as a "drama," still called for permitting it.
Charging Karunanidhi with losing the locus standi to argue for Sri Lankan Tamils' welfare as he had remained "silent," when violence was at its peak, he, however, slammed the police for denying a "democratic right."