Demonstrators form chain to protest Sri Lanka developments (Lead)

October 24th, 2008 - 10:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Somnath ChatterjeeChennai, Oct 24 (IANS) Despite a heavy downpour, thousands of people formed a 60 km long human chain here Friday against the alleged killing of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu’s ruling party DMK said.State Finance Minister and DMK General Secretary K. Anbazhagan told reporters that the protest was a spontaneous expression of the state’s anger against genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

“The people of Tamil Nadu have braved inclement weather and spontaneously expressed their anger against the genocide of the ethnic Tamil minority in Sri Lanka. We hope the central government takes notice of this and ensures the cessation of hostilities in the island immediately,” Anbazhagan said.

“It is imperative that the Indian government takes note of the sentiments of people here at least now after seeing this huge protest,” said former Union IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran who also took part in the protest.

The opposition All India Anna DMK slammed the protest as “anti-national”.

“This show of strength with the forced participation of students from schools and colleges and presence of actors Seeman and Ameer whose seditious speeches (in Rameshwaram Oct 19) disgusted people with patriotic feelings betrayed this protest’s anti-national character,” a newscaster commented on Jaya TV - a channel owned by the AIADMK.

Legislators from the Congress - the main ally of the DMK that props up the state government - kept away from the protest and were also critical of Karunanidhi.

“While personalities from the film industry should control their emotional and at times illegal outbursts, we also appeal to the government to act against all those who are acting against the interests of national unity and integrity with the same alacrity displayed during the arrests of MDMK leaders - who are political opponents of the chief minister,” said Congress leader D. Pandiyan.

Sixteen Lok Sabha MPs of the DMK, including seven union ministers, have handed in post-dated resignations to Karunanidhi on the issue.

The chief minister is yet to decide on handing them over to Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

The MPs want the central government to take appropriate steps to alleviate the suffering of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Apart from Karunanidhi who surveyed the protest from his vehicle, Anbazhagan, Electricity Minister Arcot N. Veerasamy, Communist Part of India’s state secretary D. Pandian, leaders from Pattali Makkal Katchi, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and actress Raadhika Sarath Kumar took part in the protest, a DMK communiqué added.

The Congress and Communist Party of India (Marxist) have distanced themselves from DMK’s decision to resign en masse from parliament.

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