Tamil Nadu lawyers indulge in fresh violence (Roundup)

February 20th, 2009 - 9:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Feb 20 (IANS) Angry lawyers set fire to vehicles and stoned government offices in several cities across Tamil Nadu Friday to protest a police cane charge on lawyers in the state high court a day ago while over 200 lawyers were arrested for Thursday’s clashes.
The lawyers were protesting against “police repression against the hurt sentiments of lawyers expressing their feelings for their Tamil brethren in Sri Lanka” and also demanded action against policemen who had “brutally assaulted their innocent colleagues” in the high court a day ago.

Several bodies of lawyers demanded the suspension of police officials, including Chennai commissioner K. Radhakrishnan, “for authorising official violence against innocent lawyers”.

“The police brutally assaulted innocent lawyers for expressing their feelings in a democratic manner,” S. Prabhakaran, president Madras High Court Advocates’ Association, said.

Most courts, including the high court, remained closed due to the protest Friday.

Police cane charged protesting lawyers at four places in the state.

Cases of attempted murder and arson have been registered against 200 lawyers all over the state, a police press statement said.

Police officials said tough action was being initiated to contain “lawlessness on the part of the lawyers”.

According to a police statement, 150 injured personnel were being treated in hospitals after Thursday’s clashes. One of them was operated upon to remove a piece of stone from his head and is now stable, a source said.

Over 20 lawyers and activists owing allegiance to a fringe separatist political group were arrested. The group was attempting to “shut down” a central government office to demonstrate anger over India’s openly aiding Sri Lanka’s military establishment in the civil war.

Earlier, the state assembly witnessed chaotic scenes, with opposition members being evicted over the clashes between advocates and policemen here on Thursday.

Law Minister S. Durai Murugan read out a statement under Rule 110 of the assembly that prohibits debate, blaming both the lawyers and policemen for the “unfortunate turn of events”.

The incident was a fallout of what had happened in the Madras High Court Tuesday when some lawyers hurled rotten eggs at Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy for his opposition to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka.

Legislators of the AIADMK, Communist Party of India, PMK and MDMK were evicted from the house following their slogan shouting and insistence on a debate.

In a separate development, three Tamil Nadu leaders, including MDMK chief Vaiko, Friday handed over a petition to the US consulate here seeking US intervention “to save the lives of innocent Tamil civilians” in Sri Lanka.

Besides Vaiko, the others were Tamil Eelam Protection Movement leader P. Nedumaran and VCK head Thol Thirumavalavan.

“Peaceful protests do not seem to be working as the government is converting the democratic right to dissent into a motivated offence on the part of lawyers and prosecuting them. We now have to seek international assistance,” Nedumaran told reporters, flanked by Vaiko and Thirumavalavan.

Actor-turned-politician Vijaykanth led a huge rally in the city and exhorted all political parties to boycott the ensuing parliamentary elections in support of the Tamils of Sri Lanka.

He also condemned the police action on the protesting lawyers.

In a statement, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi alleged that the AIADMK-led opposition was politicising the lawyers’ issue.

“The Central Bureau of Investigation probe ordered by (the DMK) government will establish the identity and motives of the real culprits (behind the lawyers’ action) in the High Court premises,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Puducherry police team arrested movie director Seeman Friday as he attempted to surrender in a court in Tirunelveli, 600 km south of here, on charges of inciting violence in support of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, officials said.

Seeman was remanded to judicial custody by a local court later.

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