Students, lawyers, political activists and even the public took to the streets across major cities and towns in Tamil Nadu, as protests against Sri Lanka peaked on Wednesday, just a day or so ahead of a vote in the ongoing UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.
Students of at least 50 arts and science colleges joined the protest, as hundreds went on processions in Madurai and Tiruchi, among other places, demanding not merely an international probe into war crimes in Sri Lanka, but also a separate ‘Tamil Eelam’ as the ultimate solution.
Students in 60 technical institutions, including Industrial Training Institutes and polytechnics boycotted classes across Tamil Nadu.
In Coimbatore, more than 300 lawyers marched from the combined district sessions court complex and stormed into the office of the Income Tax department, breaking a police cordon. They burnt Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s effigy, and got into an office room there.
In Madurai, hundreds of students went on a procession through the main thoroughfares, raising slogans against the Sri Lankan president and Congress leaders. They condemned the draft US resolution for failing to term the mass killing of civilians in Sri Lanka, a genocide. They blamed India for abetting the crimes.
Tiruchi district saw another day of unrelenting protests, as different strata of society joined the agitation spearheaded by students.
The day was marked by fasts in over 10 places in the district by students, sections of the general public, tanker lorry drivers, cab drivers and owners, and Sri Lankan Tamil refugees besides functionaries of Naam Tamizhar Katchi and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi.
Students of engineering, law and arts and science colleges organised protests to decry the ‘genocide’ of Tamils.
They also denounced the UPA government and demanded a referendum in the northern and eastern provinces of the island nation.
Protests gathered momentum in Ramanathapuram district too, with Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, government employees, autorickshaw drivers and the disabled community organising separate agitations in support of a strong resolution at the UNHRC denouncing Sri Lanka and calling for a credible international probe into war crimes there.
About 500 refugees, including 200 women and schoolgirls, observed a day’s fast inside the Mandapam Refugee camp, expressing solidarity with the agitation across Tamil Nadu.
A federation of associations of the disabled observed a day’s fast, with members gagging their mouths with black cloth near Aramanai in Ramanathapuram.
In Namakkal, a national highway was blocked for four hours, while road blockades were reported from other towns too.