It was an ironical scenario in Bhopal as a President accused of genocide arrived here on Thursday to inaugurate a ceremony on world peace. Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived in Bhopal on Thursday evening, even as MDMK general secretary Vaiko, who has accused Mr. Rajapaksa of genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils, continued to wait on the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh border after he was denied entry into the State.
Mr. Rajapaksa, along with Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigme Y. Thinley, is scheduled to lay the foundation of the Buddhist and Indic Studies University in Sanchi on Friday. Mr. Vaiko has vowed to stage a black flag protest before Mr. Rajapaksa on Friday, but the Madhya Pradesh government has strictly ruled out any such demonstration, with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan terming the event “an opportunity for world peace and not for politics.”
Mr. Rajapaksa’s visit has evoked strong reactions from Tamil rights groups. Mr. Vaiko, along with his convoy comprising 21 buses, medical vans and several cars, tried to enter Madhya Pradesh from Nagpur on Wednesday, but was stopped by the State police at Chhindwara.
“Since then, they have been sitting on the National Highway-69. They want to go Sanchi and stage a black flag protest but we have orders to stop them,” Chiindwara SP Purushottam Sharma told The Hindu. “He will be addressing the press here tomorrow [on Friday] morning and then decide on what he wants to do next,” said Mr. Sharma. The police detained some MDMK supporters near Sanchi and sent them to Bhopal.
Also, the Bhopal police have made tight security arrangements in order to prevent the protesters from reaching the venue in Sanchi.
Meanwhile, Mr. Chauhan repeated his appeal to Mr. Vaiko to call off his protest. “Sri Vaiko mere param mitra hain [Mr. Vaiko is my best friend]. We have worked together under the NDA government,” he told journalists at his residence on Thursday. “We don’t want to arrest him. I have requested him once again to call of his protest as this ceremony is about world peace and not about politics,” he said.
Asked why a peaceful protest was being repressed in his State, Mr. Chauhan said there was no question of repressing the protest. “We sent him flowers on his arrival to Madhya Pradesh. Is that repression,” he asked.