Chennai US consulate suspends visa processing till Wednesday

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Chennai, Sep 18: The US consulate in Chennai has suspended visa processing till Wednesday after over 20 Muslim groups decided to hold more rallies protesting the controversial film 'Innocence of Muslims'. The protest turned violent not only in India, but in places across North Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. The Chennai consulate has asked the US citizens living here to stay cautious.

Security was also strengthened around the consulate premises after 2,000 protesters of the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam started violent activities last Thursday. Search lights had been installed while CCTV cameras, which were smashed during the demonstration, were also repaired. The area aorund the consulate was also cordoned off.

According to a newspaper report, Chief Shia Kazi Maulana Ghulam Mohammed Mehdi Khan said strong anti-Islam sentiments were sweeping across the globe and the recent controversial film made in the US, which led to a huge uproar, fuel such phobia all the more.

Chennai police authorities said they were taking guard to tackle the demonstrators and would plan their action once the protesters finalised their venue. Swift action group, rapid action force and commando force personnel were deployed around the consulate.

Eighteen people had been arrested for Thursday's violence. Police said 24 Islamic fronts and other bodies had called for protest on Tuesday. Intelligence sources sais members of Muslim bodies were travelling from remote areas to the state capital.

The consulate will remain closed till Wednesday, which is a public holiday. Other consulates will, however, remain open. The consulate officials requested visa applicants to check their official web site for updates. They have also asked US citizens to enroll heir names in the Smart Traveller Enrollment Programme. It will make it convenient for the US Embassy to contact them in case of an emergency.

Meanwhile, TMMK leader M H Jawahirulla said the attack on the consulate was an accident and was carried out by a few youngsters as an emotional outburst, said the report.

OneIndia News

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