Eelam Tamils issue rocks TN Assembly

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Chennai, Nov 11: The Eelam Tamils issue rocked the Tamil Nadu Assembly today, even as members cutting across party lines, displayed a rare unity in demanding immediate ceasefire and a halt to the killing of innocent Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Soon after Question Hour, members of various political parties, including Mr C Gnanasekaran (Congress), PMK Floor leader G K Mani and CPI leader V Sivapunniyam sought to raise the issue.

As Speaker R Avudaiyappan refused permission there were shouts and countershouts with Mr Gnanasekaran and Congress members demanding the arrest of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) leader Thol Thirumavalavan and others for their open support to the banned LTTE.

Mr Mani and his colleagues were seen shouting demanding an immediate halt to the genocide on innocent Tamils in the Emerald Isles, while Mr Sivapunniyam condemned the Lankan government for the continuing attack on Tamils and demanded an immediate halt to it.

The House witnessed noisy scenes for nearly half-an-hour.

Nothing could be heard in the din. At this stage, the Speaker said he was taking up adjournment motions given notice of by members on five important issues and asked Opposition AIADMK member K A Sengottaiyan to speak on the motions.

Members of various parties insisted that the Speaker should first hear the issues sought to be raised and then fix a date for discussion.

As the Speaker did not relent, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi intervened and said if the members of various parties specifically say that they wanted to raise such an issue, it would help the government to give its reply.

When the members were allowed to specify the issue they wanted to raise, there was a rare unanimity as everyone were equivocal in their demand for an immediate ceasefire to end the killing of Tamils. They also sought Indian government's intervention to exert pressure on Sri Lanka to stop its Military action in the wake of the LTTE's assertion that it was ready to declare a ceasefire.

Mr Gnanasekaran said while there was no second opinion for the Congress that the attacks on innocent Tamils should be stopped, he urged the Tamil Nadu government to arrest those political party leaders, Tamil organisations and film directors, who were openly supporting the LTTE and eulogising its leader V Prabhakaran, who was declared as the proclaimed offender in the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case.

He also sought to know why the Government did not arrest Mr Thirumavalavan and others for their open support to the LTTE, while arresting MDMK leaders Vaiko and Kannappan and Film Directors Seeman and Ameer for the same reason.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition and former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam (AIADMK) said the Tamils should be protected by ensuring ceasefire in the neighbouring country and appealed to the members not to divert the attention from the issue.

Referring to Mr Karunanidhi's remarks that both the parties should agree for the ceasefire to halt the killings, he said while the LTTE was prepared to declare the ceasefire, the Lankan government said a firm no to it, leading to increased attack on Tamils by the Military troops.

He urged the Chief Minister to speak to the Indian government and take steps to stop the war and create a conducive atmosphere for the Tamils to live in peace.

Congress Legislature Party Leader D Sudarsanam, who had earlier made a vain bid to prevent his party members from raising the issue, said there was no change in Congress party's stand on the need for immediate ceasefire. Recalling the Centre's decision to provide 800 tonne of relief materials and the state's move to collect funds and materials, he said while the LTTE had made clear its stand that it was ready for a ceasefire, the Lankan government turned it down.

Asserting that the Centre was taking all follow up action on the issue, Mr Sudarsanam said, ''We have to adopt a wait and watch attitude as the issue cannot be solved in two minutes''.

''Our responsibility is to ensure peaceful situation for Tamils.

The Indian and the Tamil Nadu governments will not go back on this'', he said, adding the Congress would not accept forces speaking in favour of the LTTE and demanded stringent action against them.

Mr Mani alleged that the Lankan government, by intensifying its attack, was out to destroy Eelam Tamils and appealed to Mr Karunanidhi to pass a resolution in the state Assembly urging the Centre to intervene to ensure ceasefire and prevent the killings.

He said the resolution should be drafted in such a way that it should be the voice of the people of Tamil Nadu.

Mr Sivapunniyam, who had earlier staged a walk-out after shouting slogans condemning the Lankan government for continued attack on Tamils, alleged that the Centre was adopting an indifferent attitude on the issue.

Observing that he was neither supporting terrorism nor the LTTE, he wanted to know whether the Congress, which is in power at the Centre, accepted killing of innocent Tamils in the name of LTTE.

This drew instantaneous protests from Congress members who denied the charge.

Mr Govindasamy (CPI-M) also said killing of innocent Tamils could not be accepted and wanted the Centre to exert pressure on Sri Lanka to work for a negotiated political solution within the framework of the United Sri Lanka to end the ongoing war and genocide.

UNI

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