Across the Palk Straits, the Sri Lankan army is mounting an offensive in Mullaitheevu.
In Tamil Nadu on Saturday, Sivanandan, 46, an unemployed textile worker in Chennai, became the 13th Indian Tamil to immolate himself on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue.
Siva succumbed to the 60 per cent burns he sustained Friday night when he set himself on fire. Police said he was depressed by repeated telecasts of bleeding women and children on TV channels. The Tamil press widely reported he didn’t want any political leader to visit him, as he was a apolitical person.
The anguish over the plight of Lankan Tamils runs strongly across political parties in Tamil Nadu. The family of Muthukumar, the first to immolate himself (on January 29) over the issue, refused to accept the Rs.2.5 lakhs compensation offered by the Karunanidhi government. Among those who have killed themselves is a Congress functionary from Mayiladuthurai constituency, apart from some others from the DMK and DMDK.
The “Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Movement”, among others, includes the CPI, the Vaiko-led MDMK, the PMK, the VCK, the BJP and the P. Nedumaran-led Tamils Nationalist Movement. The AIADMK-led allies’ rally in Chennai on April 16 brought the issue into limelight, increasing pressure on the DMK and Congress.
How the Centre responds will affect how Tamil Nadu and Puducherry vote for their 40 Lok Sabha seats on May 13.