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Lanka blinks, Karuna ends fast

world Updated: Apr 28, 2009 00:35 IST
M.R. Venkatesh
M.R. Venkatesh
Hindustan Times
LTTE

DMK president and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi called off a dramatic fast within six hours after Sri Lanka said it had stopped combat operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on Monday.

“As a result of the initiatives taken by the UPA government at the Centre, the Sri Lankan government’s security council has come forward to halt the hostilities against the Tamils there and assured that they would take up rehabilitation of the affected Tamils,” Karunanidhi announced.

“Hence, I withdraw my fast,” the 85-year-old patriarch declared around 12.30 pm. The chief minister was roundly cheered by party cadres as he sipped some lime juice offered at the venue by state Electricity Minister Arcot Veerasamy.

Earlier in the day, Karunanidhi, an early riser, stunned his friends and political foes alike, when he quietly left his home at 5 am under the pretext of going to the party office — where he usually goes for his morning walks. Instead, he went straight to Annadurai’s memorial and suddenly began an indefinite fast on his wheel chair for the Tamil cause.

Quickly, a ‘shamiana’ was put up at the venue and a wooden cot, two air coolers were rushed to Karunanidhi, who had undergone a high-risk spinal surgery in February. His personal physician, Dr Gopal, was by his side soon, checking his blood pressure and other parameters every hour.

Pro-AIADMK television channel Jaya TV dubbed the fast as “yet another drama that ended” and highlighted the forced closure of shops and stoppage of public transport buses in different parts of the state allegedly by DMK men.