South Indian film industry employees observe hunger strike over Sri Lankan issue

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Chennai, Nov 5 : Employees of southern film industry observed hunger strike on Wednesday to show solidarity with the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The ten-hour hunger strike has been called by the 'Film Employees Federation of South India (FEFSI), in which hundreds of employees participated to lend their voice against the atrocities carried out on Tamilians in Sri Lanka.

The film fraternity has been active in staging protests in which even the renowned actors have also participated, to show solidarity with the Tamils caught in the escalating conflict in Sri Lanka.

"This is all cinema people. The one excellent thing is, so far no section has done protest or (lent) support to voice towards the suffering of the Sri Lankan people, like cinema people," said Radha Ravi, General Secretary, Film Artists' Association.

The employees said they wanted the Central government to intervene and try and resolve the matter.

"This is fourth stage of strike. First there was a protest in Rameswaram, next was the human chain by the Chief Minister, then a protest by the Film Artists' Association and now by the Film Employees Association. It's happening in a big way. Today all the people from the film fraternity have cancelled their shoots and gathered here. This hunger strike is to show our feeling of solidarity for the affected community in Sri Lanka. The Central government should intervene and try and save the Tamils there," said S.Vijayan, President, FEFSI.

The escalating war in Sri Lanka has roiled Indian politics and prompted heated diplomatic exchanges between the neighbouring countries.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi's Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party has demanded a ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a militant group that has been fighting for a separate homeland for Sri Lankan Tamils since 1983.

The DMK had earlier threatened to pull out from the Central coalition in protest against the Sri Lankan government's intensifying offensive against the LTTE.

Withdrawal of support by DMK could have forced a vote of confidence in Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's government, ahead of elections due in 2009.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has ruled out any Indian involvement in solving the conflict, which the government says must be solved through dialogue.

During last week's talks with Sri Lankan government's special envoy in New Delhi, India had sought assurance from Colombo that all humanitarian steps would be taken to protect the ethnic Tamils in the island nation during the ongoing military offensive against the LTTE.

India has pledged to provide 800 tonnes of relief material to the civilian population in conflict-hit northern Sri Lanka, where Indian origin Tamil population is predominant.

ANI

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