Tamil Nadu police warn of stern action, VCK leader calls off strike (Third Lead)

January 18th, 2009 - 11:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Jan 18 (IANS) The Tamil Nadu police Sunday warned violent protesters of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) of stringent action, including detention under the National Security Act and shoot-at-sight orders. Its leader Thol Thirumavalavan later called off his four-day-old hunger strike to protest the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils.”Those damaging government properties will be booked under the NSA. Officers have been instructed to open fire if needed to prevent miscreants setting fire to buses. The suspects arrested so far are said to be VCK workers, and have been jailed. More arrests are likely,” Director General of Police K.P. Jain told IANS.

Over 180 people have been jailed in various parts of Tamil Nadu after 54 government buses were damaged in protests since Thursday, according to a police sources.

“Though in some far-flung areas bus services have been curtailed, commuters’ interests are being taken care of. Buses are plying as convoys with adequate police protection wherever needed,” Jain added.

As Thirumavalavan has called off the strike, the violence is expected to abate, the police sources added.

Six buses were burnt in three districts since Sunday morning, including one in the capital. So far, 54 vehicles have been damaged since Thursday in Cuddalore, Madurai and Villupuram districts and in Chennai, according to police sources.

So far, no one has been hurt in the incidents.

The government vehicles were attacked mostly in areas where the VCK and the PMK - both seen as sympathisers of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) - have strong presence.

Thirumavalavan called off his “indefinite” fast Sunday evening in “deference to the wishes of his party workers who were concerned at his deteriorating health”, the party said.

The VCK is an ally of the state’s ruling DMK.

He, however, criticised Leader of Opposition Jayalalitha and the Congress.

“Jayalalitha and the Congress have been speaking against the interests of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Therefore, the Left parties-MDMK front and the DMK should exit the AIADMK front and the United Progressive Alliance respectively,” Thirumavalavan told reporters.

Those who had requested Thirumavalavan to give up his hunger strike since Saturday include state Electricity Minister Arcot N. Veerasamy, PMK founder leader S. Ramadoss and several Left leaders.

The Congress, on its part, slammed “the uncontrolled lawlessness prevailing in Tamil Nadu due to inadequate police action”.

“This uncontrolled lawlessness prevailing in Tamil Nadu is reprehensible and the police action to merely arrest and send a few to jail is woefully inadequate,” said D. Sudarsanam, the floor leader of the Congress in the state assembly.

“Those destroying public property have to be put down with an iron hand - which the state government is not at all doing, for reasons best known to it,” he added.

State Congress president K.V. Thangkabalu told reporters separately that the Sri Lankan Tamil tangle could be solved only by concerted action by parties in Tamil Nadu with the cooperation of the central government.

“India stands for the inalienable right of the Tamils in Sri Lanka to live honourably and safely. For achieving a political solution to the question, all regional parties must cooperate with the centre which alone can solve the long-pending issue,” Thangkabalu said.

Congress sources said separately that its 35 legislators would Monday deliberate on the violence in Tamil Nadu.

The discussions would be in the wake of attacks against its workers at the hands of VCK volunteers a fortnight ago, they added.

The Congress is the main ally of the ruling DMK propping up its 95-member strong minority regime with its 35 legislators in a house of 234 members.

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