More than 1,350 people removed by the police for staging demonstrations

Detaining trains at several places, closure of shops and demonstrations in Coimbatore, Udhagamandalam, Erode, Salem and Tirupur, marked the bandh call given by outfits opposed to India’s participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka.

More than 1,350 people were removed by the police in the western region of the State comprising Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Salem Rural, Namakkal, Erode, Tirupur, Coimbatore and The Nilgiris districts. All of them were released in the evening.

In Coimbatore , agitators tried to block trains at Coimbatore Railway Junction and also burnt the flag of the Indian National Congress.

Thousands of micro and cottage industries remained closed and the workers took part in various demonstrations. Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation buses, call-taxis and autorickshaws plied as usual.

In The Nilgiris, the call for the bandh evoked a mixed response. Except drug stores, all trading outlets including hotels remained closed. Autorickshaws and taxies went off the roads. About 50 people owing allegiance to the VCK and other parties like the MDMK and PMK were arrested when they took out a procession and tried to stage a demonstration.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Gudalur, S. Thirumeni said that barring an incident in which a milk booth owner was threatened, the day passed off peacefully. In Kotagiri, majority of the shops remained closed and a procession was organised by the Kotagiri Makkal Kootani. In Coonoor, the response was poor, while in Udhagamandalam there was no impact.

In Tirupur, around 250 members of the MDMK, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, Aathithamizhar Jananayaka Peravai, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, Social Democratic Party of India and Dalit organisations, among a few others, were arrested after they blocked the Dhanbad/Tatanagar-Alleppey Express and climbed on to its engine at the railway station.

The apparel production units in Tirupur knitwear cluster functioned as usual. In the morning, only 25 per cent of the shops were closed. By afternoon, about 40 per cent of the shops downed the shutters.

In Salem, as many as 318 activists, including 19 women, owing allegiance to pro-Eelam outfits and political parties were removed by the city police after they tried to stage rail roko at Salem Railway junction.

Led by M. Chandrasekaran, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Law and Order, West Range, the police maintained vigil. As many as 105 activists of Tamilaga Valvurimai Katchi, 89 including 17 women of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, 37 of Manithaneya Makkal Katchi and 17, including a woman, of Naam Tamilar Iyakkam were removed by the police. They were lodged at a marriage hall.

In Erode, Member of Parliament A. Ganesha Moorthy of the MDMK was among 164 members of various pro-Tamil Eelam organisations arrested for attempting to block trains at the Erode Railway Station.

A police team led by Deputy Superintendent of Police Periaiah intercepted the MP and other protesting members before their entry into the railway station. Meanwhile, a group of students managed to sneak inside the railway station and squatted on the track blocking the Trivandrum-Shalimar Express train.

About 22 students were removed from the track and arrested, police sources said. Barring the railway station incident, the impact of the strike was not felt elsewhere. Buses plied normally and business establishments were kept open as usual.