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Rajapaksa's visit: Karuna leads protests in Chennai

DMK chief M Karunanidhi today led a state-wide protest in Chennai against the visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to India, accusing him of making efforts to 'annihilate' the Tamils in the island republic. Rajapaksa trying to erase Tamils in Lanka: Karuna

india Updated: Feb 08, 2013 18:53 IST

DMK chief M Karunanidhi on Friday led a state-wide protest in Chennai against the visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to India, accusing him of making efforts to "annihilate" the Tamils in the island republic.

Wearing black shirt, the protesters gathered under the banner of the Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation, which Karunanidhi had revived some months ago, and shouted slogans against Rajapaksa, who is on a pilgrimage to Tirupati and Bodh Gaya.

Karunanidhi charged the Lankan President with attempting to not only to "annihilate" the Tamil population but also erase the Tamil language.

Party Treasurer MK Stalin and other senior party leaders were present.

Effigies of Rajapaksa were burnt and lawyers boycotted courts in some parts of the state, protesting the visit.

Karunanidhi had said on Thursday that the Centre should realise at least now that the island government was not keeping its promises after the Sri Lankan President had ruled out autonomy for Tamil areas.

"Now TESO was issuing a severe caution (by black flag demonstration), Rajapaksa should correct himself, and Centre also take steps to protect Tamils," Karunanidhi had said.

Addressing the 65th Independence Day celebrations on Monday, the Lankan President had ruled out greater political autonomy for Tamils, saying ethnicity-based division was "not practical" as people live together in unity and there were no racial or religious differences.

MDMK activists burn an effigy of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse against his visit to India during a protest in New Delhi. AFP PHOTO

Vaiko courts arrest in Delhi
MDMK general secretary Vaiko on Friday led a protest in the national capital against Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's India visit.

Holding placards demanding "strict action against Rajapaksa" and shouting slogans against the President, Vaiko along with several party members protested on Parliament Street in central Delhi.

The group demanded that Rajapaksa should not be allowed in India as he had ruled out autonomy for Tamil areas in the island nation.

Security on high alert in Tirupati
A thick security blanket has been thrown over this temple town in the wake of reports that some Tamil Nadu-based outfits may create trouble during the visit of Rajapaksa in Tirupati on Friday evening, police said.

MDMK leader Vaiko along with party workers during a protest against Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to India, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. PTI Photo

The Vaiko-led MDMK party, which blames Rajapaksa for the plight of Tamils in the last phase of conflict between the Lankan Army and rebel LTTE, has announced staging black flag protest at Tirupati against the leader's visit there.

Various pro-Tamil groups including DMK-led TESO have also announced protests elsewhere.

Unprecedented security arrangements have been put in place at the airport in Tirupati, across the 15 km road from the airport leading to the foot of the hills called Alipiri and the 18 km long hill route leading to Tirumala, the hill abode of Lord Venkateswara, police sources said.

Rajapaksa would offer prayers in the wee hours on Saturday, temple sources told PTI, adding, he would also take part in the 'Suprabhatha recitation ritual by priests at the sanctum sanctorum.

Rajapaksa would arrive at the airport in Tirupati on Friday evening on a 17 hour pilgrimage by a Sri Lankan special flight and immediately proceed to the hills by road, and stay overnight at the tightly guarded Sri Padmavathi guest house, the sources said.

He had last visited the shrine on April 2, 2011.

Termed a "personal visit", the president is avoiding New Delhi despite Sri Lankan concerns over how India will vote in the upcoming UN human rights meet in Geneva.

Last year, India voted for a US-sponsored resolution urging Sri Lanka to go for reconciliation and speedily rehabilitate those derailed by the long running ethnic conflict that ended in May 2009.

The Sri Lankan President has been quoted as saying that he is opposed to granting autonomy to provinces, remarks that are widely seen as going back on promises made earlier to Indian leaders.

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