Protest by the student community expressing solidarity with Eelam Tamils gathered pace in the central region on Thursday with agitations reported across Tiruchi and neighbouring districts. However, there were no arrests.
Even as close to 1,000 students of Bharathidasan University, including a large section of girls, commenced their two-day fast in front of the main entrance along the Tiruchi-Pudukkottai Highway, a group of students of a couple of government colleges attempted to lock the head post office and the main branch of the State Bank of India, before proceeding to the Railway Junction and detaining two trains.
About 200 boys and girls of Government Law College and Periyar EVR College marched in a procession from the race course towards the Head Post Office, raising slogans against Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, their attempt to lock the gates of the Head Post office was foiled by a strong posse of police personnel.
Later, they gate-crashed the main branch of the State Bank of India, a little distance away, and went round the premises raising slogans, before moving out. They also forced the ATMs of the bank on the premises to down the shutters.
From there, they marched towards the Railway Junction. They managed to gain entry breaking the cordon put up by the police and squatted in front of the Tiruchi – Palakkad passenger and the Tiruchi – Mayiladuthurai Express trains, which were about to leave at 1.00 p.m. As efforts by the law-enforcers to evacuate them did not fructify, Commissioner of Police, Shailesh Kumar Yadav, rushed to the scene with a striking police party and prevailed upon them to disperse peacefully. Both the trains suffered a detention of about 15 minutes due to the agitation.
Subsequently, the police also thwarted the attempt made by a group of 40 slogan-shouting students to enter the Tiruchi Airport. Later in the day, a group of students belonging to a government hostel assembled for staging demonstration at TVS Toll Gate, causing tense moments for the police. They dispersed after a while.
Elsewhere in the district, hundreds of students of Government Arts College, Tiruverumbur, and Nehru Memorial College, Puthanampatti, observed hunger fasts. Their protests were peaceful, police sources said.
In Thanjavur, students of Periyar Maniammai University, Marudupandiyar College and Annai Velankanni College undertook the fast. Eleven students of Tamil University launched an indefinite fast on Thursday in support of the demand. A group of students of Thiru-Vi.Ka.Government Arts College at Tiruvarur are already on an indefinite fast from Wednesday.
A total of 27 students of Government Arts College, Ariyalur, continued their indefinite fast for the second consecutive day. Other students of the college too observed token fast to express their solidarity.
In Pudukottai town, 16 students of H. H. The Rajah’s College continued their indefinite fast for the third day. The other students of the college, in support of the fasting students, burnt the effigy of Rajapaksa at two points.
In Karur district too, students of various colleges boycotted classes and took out rallies.