TN: Lankan Tamils' issue again boiling

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Chennai, Oct 6: The vexed Sri Lankan Tamils issue is once again on the boil in Tamil Nadu, with the ruling DMK and other major political parties taking a strong line that the Centre should exert pressure on Sri Lanka to stop the alleged genocide of Lankan Tamils.

For the first time in several years, political parties in the state have taken the issue to the streets, as it were, after Chief Minister and DMK President M Karunanidhi exhorted people to send lakhs of telegrams to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to save the Tamils in the island.

The political parties, including the DMK, Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), sinking their differences, have strongly rallied behind the Lankan Tamils as reports suggest that the Sri Lankan armed forces were zeoring in on Kilinochi, the administrative headquarters of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The AIADMK, the main opposition party in the state and its ally, the Marumalarchi DMK (MDMK), a staunch supporter of the Tamils and LTTE are, however, toeing a separate line, taking up the Tamils' cause. The MDMK announced a protest demonstration here on October 10 and the AIADMK offered its support to the agitation.

As the situation in the Tamil areas in Sri Lanka became tense and serious, Mr Karunanidhi, after a marathon discussion with senior party leaders at the DMK headquarters here yesterday, called upon people to send lakhs of telegrams to Prime Minister ''to intervene immediately and stop the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka''.

Hours after the DMK leader made the appeal, hundreds and thousands of partymen in all parts of the state, thronged the postal and telegraph offices to send the telegrams.

Reports received from district headquarters said the otherwise dull post and telegraph offices across the state, suddenly became active with the partymen thronging them to send telegrams. Serpentine queues were seen in almost all major post offices in the city and several other parts of the state. PMK Founder leader Dr S Ramadoss and VCK leader Thol Thirumavalvan were quick to welcome Mr Karunanidhi's call for sending telegrams and directed the partymen to join the DMK cadres in sending the telegrams to the Prime Minister.

Dr Ramadoss set the tone by sending his telegrame yesterday itslef.

While the AIADMK had, predictably, not reacted to the development, MDMK General Secretary Vaiko described Mr Karunanidhi's call for telegrams, as a drama, being enacted to divert the attention of the people.

Addressing a marriage function in Bhuvanagiri in Cuddalore district, he said the Chief Minister's call was ''nothing but a fraud''.

What was the Chief Minister doing all these days when the Sri Lankan Tamils were facing all sorts of problems, he asked.

The Tamils issue holds the centre stage in TN politics after the Communist Party of India (CPI) organised a state-wide fast on Gandhi Jayanthi day on October two.

After the MDMK and AIADMK offered support to the fast,though the AIADMK later backed out, the ruling DMK announced that it would make its stand open on the issue at a public meeting to be addressed by Mr Karunaidhi here this evening.

Before CPI's fast, support for Sri Lankan Tamils was only confined to seminars and workshops, though some fringe political parties and organisations raised their voice openly.


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