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Protests in TN continue even as DMK slams LTTE

DMK has lashed out at LTTE for not responding to the two-day ceasefire by the Lanka Govt even as protests against the Centre for not helping Lankan Tamils continue.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2009 21:40 IST

Against the backdrop of hawkish demands and street protests, the DMK-led government on Friday lashed out at the LTTE for not responding to the two-day ceasefire by the Sri Lankan government in the northern areas to enable the safe passage of ethnic Tamils caught in the conflict zone.

DMK, which has been turning the heat on the Centre to talk to Colombo to stop innocent Tamils becoming victims in the crossfire between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan security forces, said the LTTE had failed to reciprocate the 48-hour ceasefire announced by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Protesting lawyers burnt copies of newspapers carrying photographs of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse accusing them of not working in the best interests of the affected Tamils.

Work in courts came to a standstill as lawyers commenced an indefinite call to boycott courts.

The Sri Lankan Tamil issue figured prominently in the state assembly with Finance Minister and DMK General Secretary K Anbazhagan saying the LTTE had had not given any word on the safe passage of Tamils in the conflict zone.

Projecting a tough stand against LTTE, the Congress asserted in the assembly it won't relent till the Tigers' Chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, a proclaimed offender in the Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case, was arrested, extradited and prosecuted in India.

MDMK leader Vaiko, in a statement, said the ceasefire was only aimed at fooling the world.

Amid the raging debate, the external affairs minister wrote to Karunanidhi assuring him that the UPA government would continue to work towards a political settlement of the issues in Sri Lanka, including meaningful devolution of powers and early restoration of peace.

"Our concerns for the safety and security of innocent civilians in the conflict will continue to lead us to do whatever we can to ameliorate and resolve the situation", he said in the letter, copies of which were released to the media.

Mukherjee, who met Rajapaksa during his brief visit to Colombo earlier this week, said he was given to understand that the Sri Lankan government has given instructions to allow movement of civilians trapped in the conflict zone to safer areas.

The war of words intensified between the archrivals in Tamil Nadu politics with Karunanidhi refuting AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa's allegation that he was "keeping quiet when the Centre was sending arms to Sri Lanka.

Chief Minister M Karunanidhi said both the external affairs and defence ministers have denied that India provided arms to that island nation.

In a statement in Chennai, he said the Centre never consulted the state governments or even cabinet ministers on extending military aid to other countries.

"It is highly regrettable that even this simple matter is not known to a person, who was Chief Minister for ten years.

First Published: Jan 30, 2009 20:01 IST