Student protests demanding justice for war crimes in Sri Lanka gathered momentum across Tamil Nadu on Monday, with class boycotts, fasts and demonstrations being reported from various cities and towns.
The protests intensified after eight students of Loyola College here, who were on an indefinite fast since Friday, were taken into police custody in the early hours.
Students in about 25 colleges in the State abstained from classes, accusing Sri Lanka of targeting innocent Tamils during the war against the LTTE. There were reports of relay fasts in at least 14 places.
Demonstrations or processions were held to demand that India vote against Sri Lanka in the ongoing UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva. Some students belonging to government arts and law colleges burnt effigies of Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Police said they had scaled up security arrangements for Sri Lankan establishments in Chennai.
In Chennai, students said the arrest of their fasting friends was totally unanticipated as it was a non-violent protest, but the police maintained that they had to step in because the fast was creating law and order problems. Nearly 40 of their supporters were taken to a community hall in Arumbakkam and held there till Monday morning. Students from several city colleges thronged Royapettah Hospital, where protesters whose fast was aborted were administered glucose. By 5 p.m. on Monday, the students were discharged from the hospital.
“We have decided to end our protest because it has created enough awareness among other students. Now, we will look for other ways to protest against the injustice by the Sri Lankan government,” said a protester.
Groups of students also protested in Presidency College, while 15 students of Ambedkar Government Arts College started a fast on Monday evening with 200 supporters. Students from St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchi, St. Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai, Government Law College, Tirunelveli, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli, Government Arts College, Coimbatore and two youths in Tirupur began indefinite fasts. Class boycotts and other forms of protest were reported from Coimbatore, Erode, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri and Mannargudi.