Vaiko held on sedition charge, Sri Lankan mission stoned (Roundup)

October 23rd, 2008 - 9:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai/Colombo, Oct 23 (IANS) MDMK leader Vaiko was Thursday arrested and jailed for 14 days on sedition charges for supporting the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In an unrelated incident, a group of protesting students pelted stones at the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner’s office here, with Colombo saying one of its officials was hit in the incident.”Vaiko has been charged under Section 124 (A) of the Indian Penal Code (waging seditious war against the government) and under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for supporting the LTTE,” a senior official said.

Arrested from his residence in northwestern part of the city in the afternoon, Vaiko was taken to a magistrate’s court under heavy police protection by the Tamil Nadu police’s ‘Q’ Branch that deals with extremist violence.

Before being led away by police escort, Vaiko told reporters: “India has armed, aided and abetted the genocide against the minority Tamils in Sri Lanka seeking a separate homeland. We only said that our cadres should not be forced to take to arms to save the suffering minority in Sri Lanka resulting in a law and order situation in Tamil Nadu.

“I reiterate that the MDMK stands by the unity and integrity of India and that we have not violated any law.”

While Vaiko was sent to the high-security Puzhal prison, his party colleague M. Kannappan was arrested in Coimbatore district, 600 km southwest of here, around the same time and jailed for the same period.

Vaiko had asked the central government to snap diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka in retaliation for its military action against the LTTE and openly canvassed support for terrorist group.

K.V. Thangkabalu, president of the Congress party’s state unit, said on telephone from New Delhi that he welcomed the arrest of “seditious forces”, but wanted the state’s DMK government to take action against other offenders as well.

“The arrests of Vaiko and Kannappan are welcome but the situation in Tamil Nadu demands that further stringent action should be initiated against other seditious offenders from the film industry and other political parties. The unity and integrity of India and the law of the land cannot be allowed to be challenged by fissiparous forces,” Thangkabalu said.

Communist Party of India (CPI) state secretary D. Pandian appealed for calm and requested political parties to “avoid statements and acts that would divide the nation’s political will on a completely humanitarian issue”.

Elsewhere in Chennai, a group of protesting students pelted stones at the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner’s office here Thursday.

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry in a statement issued in Colombo said the attempt by an “unruly group” to attack the Sri Lanka Deputy High Commissioner’s office was “thwarted”.

“In their attempt to break in, they had damaged the mission’s security post and notice board. A stone thrown from outside and directed at the mission hit one of the officers,” the statement said.

It said the matter was brought to the notice of Indian authorities and “action was taken immediately to intensify security for the premises and personnel” in the mission.

Heavy reinforcements were rushed to the mission, situated at No. 196, TTK Road in Alwarpet, about a kilometre away from the residences of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and Leader of Opposition J. Jayalalitha, police in Chennai said.

Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner P. Amza was away in Colombo at the time, diplomatic sources said.

“The miscreants suddenly broke glass window panes at the gate and entered the main building shouting slogans. Even as we rushed for cover, the police arrived and prevented further damage. Though nobody was hurt, the experience has left us shaken,” an employee at the mission told IANS.

Six police vehicles were later positioned at the mission, situated in a quiet street in the southern part of the city.

Meanwhile, dozens of lawyers blocked traffic outside the Madras High Court shouting slogans against the Congress party which had demanded the arrest of those film directors who have called for an armed separatist rebellion in Tamil Nadu to garner support for the Tamil homeland in northern Sri Lanka.

Vidhuthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalavan and hundreds of his supporters were arrested earlier in the day for blocking rail traffic demanding India stop Sri Lanka’s military operations following the ethnic conflict in the island nation.

Thirumavalavan and his party cadres were arrested all over Tamil Nadu as a preventive measure and were later let off, officials said.

Two railway bogies were set afire in Madurai, 400 km south of here, by unidentified protesters.

“We could not put out the fire immediately as the compartments were hemmed in from both sides by high parapet walls. However, the flames have been doused now. We are on the lookout for the culprits,” N. Balakrishnan, an official, told reporters at the spot.

The state’s ruling DMK party is scheduled Friday afternoon to hold a human chain protest against alleged killings of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka by military authorities and in support of the demand of a separate homeland in the island - Eelam.

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