MDMK leader Vaiko, his party functionaries and members of various organisations were arrested in Tiruchi on Friday after they staged a black flag demonstration condemning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress-led UPA government for “betraying Eelam Tamils”.

Mr. Vaiko along with party cadre and functionaries of Tamizhaga Vaazhvurimai Katchi, Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam and members of Students Federation of Tamil Nadu assembled at jail corner area, a few distance from the airport, along the Tiruchi - Pudukottai national highway where they staged the demonstration. Mr. Vaiko alleged that the Indian government was a “co-accused” in the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The black flag demonstration was organised during the visit of Dr. Singh to Tirumayam in Pudukottai district to inaugurate the power plant piping unit of the public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited.

The Prime Minister made a brief halt at Tiruchi airport upon arrival from New Delhi on Friday morning and immediately left by a helicopter to Tirumayam.

Security was beefed up at the airport and elsewhere in the city in connection with the Prime Minister's visit and for the black flag demonstration call given by the MDMK and other outfits against Dr. Singh’s visit.

Holding black flags and placards, the functionaries raised slogans along with Mr. Vaiko against the Congress-led UPA government holding it “responsible” for organising the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting at Colombo in November.

The Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi leader and ex-MLA T. Velmurugan, Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam general secretary K. Ramakrishnan, MDMK Tiruchi city secretary A. Malarmannan and others took part in the demonstration that lasted over 30 minutes.

Demanding the suspension of Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth for having committed “genocide of Eelam Tamils”, Mr. Vaiko told reporters that if the CHOGM conference were to be held at Colombo then Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa would become the head of the meet and that “justice would be buried and all our protests would go in vain”.

Mr. Vaiko claimed that Chief Justices of 27 Commonwealth nations had also expressed their opposition to holding the CHOGM meet at Colombo.

He accused the Indian government for being equally responsible along with the Sri Lankan Navy for the killings of 578 fishermen of Tamil Nadu over the years.

Moments after the black flag demonstration, the protestors tried to break the heavy security cordon and attempted to proceed towards the airport to show black flags to the Prime Minister when they were all arrested.

Barricades were put up at different spots along the Pudukottai highway and the road was closed for vehicular traffic for some time due to the black flag demonstration.

Police sources said over 500 persons headed by Mr. Vaiko were arrested at jail corner area.

A section of members of the district unit of Students Federation of Tamil Nadu were arrested at Wireless road after they tried to proceed to the airport to show black flags to the Prime Minister.

Members of Bharatha Munnetra Kazhagam were also arrested here after they tried to proceed with black flags from the Palakkarai area.