Vaiko, supporters arrested
MDMK leader Vaiko and nearly 180 of his party functionaries were arrested after they tried to wave black flags at External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who was in Tuticorin on Saturday to lay the foundation stone for a 1,000-MW thermal power project.
They have been lodged at the Central prison in Palayamkottai, about 600-km from Tirunelveli district.
The attack comes even when Mukherjee has softened India’s stance on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, and has urged Colombo to “seize the opportunity” presented by the LTTE’s ceasefire offer to ensure a safe passage for the trapped Tamil civilians in the war-zone. Mukherjee’s remark was seen as being made with an eye on the ensuing Lok Sabha polls and to keep its key Tamil Nadu ally, the DMK in good humour.
Vaiko blamed the Centre for “failing to stop the war in Sri Lanka”. Some of his supporters, who had come with black flags, also set Mukherjee’s a portrait on fire. The protestors were remanded to a 15-day judicial custody. “The DMK government has arrested us only to please the Congress to ensure that they do not walk out of the (poll) alliance,” Vaiko said.