Tamil Nadu lawyers suspend month-long strike

March 20th, 2009 - 1:08 am ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Chennai, March 19 (IANS) Various organisations of lawyers jointly announced the suspension of their month-long strike after a meeting Thursday evening.
The decision came after the Madras High Court’s orders Wednesday to suspend two senior police officials, A.K. Vishwanathan (additional commissioner) and J. Rama Subramani, and an appeal by the court’s full bench to lawyers to immediately call off the agitation, according to advocates spearheading the struggle.

“The strike is withdrawn respecting the requests of the full bench, and all of us will return to work Monday onwards. Our struggle, however, will continue against illegal action by police officials, including the demand to suspend and prosecute Commissioner K. Radhakrishnan and Director General of Police K.P. Jain,” lawyer T. Mohan told IANS.

“The fact that after the distribution of over 30,000 food packets, many of those in today’s (Thursday) rally remained unfed speaks volumes of the lawyers’ unity. State intelligence officials told the local press that the protesters numbered ‘a few thousand’ to belittle us,” Mohan added.

Meanwhile, sources close to the officers whose suspension has been ordered by the court said the duo had flown to New Delhi to file an appeal before the Supreme Court Friday.

“The operative portion of the officials’ prayer includes the apex court’s taking note of the fact that Chief Justice of India (K.G.) Balakrishnan refused to bow in to the lawyers’ demands,” a source said.

Government sources were not available for comment.

Earlier in the day, lawyers’ protest march culminated in a rally opposite the state guest house. The protesters burnt effigies of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and shouted anti-centre slogans, according to eyewitnesses.

Lawyers and police personnel had violently clashed February 19 in full view of television cameras within the precincts of the Madras High Court, during which a police station inside the campus was set on fire and several vehicles were damaged.

The two sides blamed each other.

The officials’ suspension was ordered by the high court in a verdict pronounced Wednesday on the basis of an affidavit filed by Radhakrishnan that the two officers exceeded their orders.

A one-man commission headed by retired Supreme Court judge Srikrishna had blamed both sides but had upheld most contentions of the police in his interim report.

Lawyers had rejected the commission findings.

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