The political divide in Tamil Nadu over the Lankan Tamil crisis widened on Tuesday on the eve of an opposition-sponsored shutdown. The ruling DMK pulled up its socks to counter anarchy and at the same time pressure the Centre to help end the war.
As reports of Lankan troops advancing into Mullaitivu in the north came in, DMK president and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi urged the United Nations to resolve the crisis.
But MDMK chief Vaiko, the most vocal of the the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) supporters, said the “LTTE cannot be defeated”.
CPI state secretary D. Pandian said, “February 4 has been chosen for the shutdown, as it also happens to be Sri Lanka’s independence day to drive home that Tamils there also deserve their freedom.”
The government said the shutdown call by the opposition-backed Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Movement (STPM) was illegal, citing a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, when the DMK called for a shutdown on the Sethusamudram issue.
The STPM mainly comprises the MDMK, PMK, veteran Tamil Nationalist Movement leader P. Nedumaran, the CPI and Dalit Panthers of India leader Thol Thirumavalavan. Surprisingly, the BJP is the group’s latest member.
Observers say the STPM may contain the seeds of a new front for the Lok Sabha polls, despite the absence of the main opposition party, the AIADMK, and the CPM.
Meanwhile, all colleges have been closed indefinitely to stop students from getting involved in street protests. After three suicides — by K. Muthukumar in Chennai, B. Ravi in Dindigul district and 21-yer-old Deenadayalan in Cuddalore district, three other students in Theni district consumed some toxic seeds on Tuesday.
R. Thirumalai, state secretary of the All India Students Federation, told HT over the phone that students — particularly in the law college — are still defiant. But medical and other professional college students have not yet jumped into action.