Tamil Nadu

March for Sri Lankan war victims stopped

Bharati Salai in Triplicane turned into a fortress on Sunday evening after it came under thick security blanket as thousands of people tried to march towards Kannagi statue and light candles in remembrance of those who died in Sri Lanka during the final stages of the war. As many as 550 people were arrested, sources said.

Since 2011 the candlelight vigil has been organised on the Marina in remembrance of the victims. However, the police denied permission last year to hold the event. Four persons, including May 17 Movement leader Thirumurugan Gandhi, were booked under the Goondas Act.

Hundreds of policemen were deployed on Wallajah Road and adjoining lanes. Bharati Salai was completely closed as layers of barricades were put up at the entrance of Kamarajar Salai and Bells Road Junction. Vehicles were diverted through Bells Road and Wallajah Road.

From 4 p.m on Sunday evening, Tamil Eelam sympathisers, including MDMK leader Vaiko, Mr. Gandhi and those belonging to fringe political parties, started trickling into Bharati Salai.

Some of the women brought their children along. They assembled near a temple some distance away from the MRTS track. They stood in a queue, comprising four members in each row. By 5 p.m, the line crossed the Victoria Hostel Road and the number touched nearly 1,000. All of them were holding placards with slogans supporting Tamil Eelam.

Around 5.30 p.m, Mr. Vaiko and Gandhi arrived at the spot. In a few minutes, thousands of people started marching towards the Kannagi statue, shouting slogans and playing the traditional music. They were stopped within hundred meters. Speaking to the media, Mr. Thirumurugan Gandhi and Mr. Vaiko condemned the State government for not granting permission to hold the candlelight vigil.

All those gathered courted arrested and were taken to Rajarathinam Stadium. They were later released in the evening.

Beach goers diverted

Meanwhile, the police restricted the general public from walking on the stretch where the protesters were planning to take the march. Traffic was affected for a while.

People were asked to take Chepauk Station Road to reach Kamarajar Road. “We were frightened to see a large number of policemen and slogan-shouting peoples. We were reminded of the situation in Kashmir,” said Ajay Singh, a tourist who had come to Chennai with his family.


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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 12:16:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/march-for-sri-lankan-war-victims-stopped/article23944996.ece

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