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Updated: January 23, 2011 02:32 IST

Vaiko meets Manmohan, takes up attacks on fishermen

New Delhi Bureau
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A file photo of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Vaiko.
A file photo of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Vaiko.

Seeks Prime Minister's intervention in stopping the frequent attacks and firing by Sri Lankan Navy

It was a meeting with a difference for Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko on Saturday. He met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence here on Saturday, after nearly 30 years.

According to Mr. Vaiko, Dr. Singh received him at the entrance and hugged him. The MDMK leader's immediate response was: “I love and respect Dr. Manmohanji. At the same time, I strongly criticise the Prime Minister of India.” Dr. Singh, with his characteristic smile, said: “Mr. Vaiko, I appreciate your stand.”

Talking to The Hindu, the MDMK leader said he told the Prime Minister about the frequent attacks and firing on Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy in the last 30 years, killing over 500 fishermen and injuring many others. “Our Navy and the Coast Guard either remain mute spectators to these killings or indirectly support them.”

When National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, who too was present, said the firing could be because of Indian fishermen crossing the territorial waters, Mr. Vaiko shot back: “Even if they cross the territorial waters, there was no reason for killing.”

He told Dr. Singh: “Our young boys [fishermen] sometimes get a feeling whether they live in India or elsewhere.”

When Dr. Singh drew the analogy of Gujarati fishermen being captured by the Pakistan Navy for crossing territorial waters, Mr. Vaiko said: “There was no instance of Gujarati fishermen being killed by the Pakistan Navy.”

The MDMK leader said the United Progressive Alliance government's foreign policy on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, the “unjustifiable” help given to Colombo and the “utter failure” of the Indian Navy to act had caused “unbearable resentment” among the people in Tamil Nadu.

The Prime Minister assured him that India would take up the issue with Sri Lanka seriously to ensure that such attacks were not repeated.  

Mr. Vaiko also impressed on Dr. Singh the need to protect the existing Mullaperiyar dam, which was the lifeline of Tamil Nadu's southern districts. The Centre should intervene.

The MDMK leader thanked the Prime Minister for his efforts in the release of Chennai lawyer Kayalvizhi, who was detained by the Lankan Army at Omanthai when she was on a visit to the island nation. Dr. Singh asked him whether she had reached Chennai safely, Mr. Vaiko said.

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