Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M. Karunanidhi on Friday led a street demonstration here against the visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to India, accusing him of seeking to destroy Tamil culture, tradition and language in the island nation.
The demonstration was organised by the students’ wing of the DMK and the Tamil Eelam Supporters’ Organisation, a forum floated by Mr. Karunanidhi. The party cadre, wearing black shirts, gathered in large numbers near Valluvar Kottam at Nungambakkam. This was among the many protests held all over Tamil Nadu.
Mr. Karunanidhi said several Tamil names of places in Sri Lanka were being replaced with Sinhala ones. Citing examples, he said Aanai-iravu (Elephant Pass), Kilinochchi, Mullaiteevu, Mankulam and Kovil Kudiyiruppu had been given Sinhala names. Temples and dwelling places of Tamils were being destroyed. “Mr. Rajapaksa is out to destroy all that characterised Tamil culture, tradition, literature and language,” the DMK leader said.
“Mr. Rajapaksa says he is creating conditions for peace. Is this the kind of peace he wants to create?”
Mr. Karunanidhi said: “I appreciate the feelings of people who organised similar protests in different parts of the country against the visit of Mr. Rajapaksa. I thank them all. If we all unite and fight together, victory is assured.”
DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin said the 20th century had seen several dictators such as Adolf Hitler (Germany) Mussolini (Italy), Idi Amin (Uganda), Qadhafi (Libya), Ferdinand Marcos (the Philippines) and Pol Pot (Cambodia) but Mr. Rajapaksa outdid them all.
K. Veeramani of the Dravidar Kazhagam said both Malaysia and the United Kingdom refused Mr. Mr. Rajapaksa visa. In the U.K. though a university had offered to confer an honorary doctorate on him, the government still refused him a visa. But in India, the Central government accorded him a red carpet reception, the DK leader pointed out.
Thol Thirumavalavan of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi said that following protests from various quarters, the Sri Lankan President, instead of landing in New Delhi, went straight to Bodh Gaya in Bihar.
Pointing out that Mr. Rajapaksa had, at a recent meeting, ruled out any political autonomy to the Tamils, Mr. Thirumavalavan said the Union government should take action in this regard.