Nedumaran among 250 arrested

CHENNAI, MAY 7. About 250 LTTE sympathisers, including the Tamil Desiya Iyakkam leader, Mr. P. Nedumaran, were arrested in Chidamabaram today on a charge of attempting to hold a pro-LTTE conference defying ban orders. They were later released on bail.

Mr. Nedumaran, who heads the Tamil Eelam Liberation Supporters Coordination Committee, and about 100 others were arrested near the town bus stand, when they were about to take out a procession to the venue of the proposed `Tamil Eelam support revival conference' this morning, police said. About 100 people, who had assembled near the conference venue, were also picked up.

An official press release here said the conference had been banned under Section 144 of the CrPC on the grounds that it would disrupt public peace. The Cuddalore district administration had also clamped prohibitory orders for two weeks in the Chidambaram town on Saturday night in view of the proposed conference.

Police pickets were posted in several places in the town this morning and the members of the Eelam Supporters Committee, who came in batches to the town till the evening, were also arrested.

In a press statement, Mr. Nedumaran said he would move the High Court against the ban on the meeting. He claimed that the regulatory order would neither stall the ``victory favouring the Tamil Eelam liberation movement'' nor suppress the wave in support of the Eelam cause.

The Eelam Supporters Coordination Committee had held similar meetings in the past weeks in Tiruvarur, Nagercoil and other places. But the Chidambaram meeting raised brows as the Eelam supporters had reportedly planned to hail the LTTE `victories' in Sri Lanka at the conference. The Opposition TMC too, in the Assembly, cautioned the Government about such pro- LTTE propaganda.

The Government generally ignores such `pin pricks' from the pro- LTTE groups in the form of posters and the so-called conferences in praise of the Tigers lest it should lend comfort to their publicity gimmicks. But sometimes, there is needless embarrassment seeking to portray the Government in a different colour, which prompts it to order a crackdown.

The Government's perception, according to official sources, has been that the people of Tamil Nadu, in general, do not have much sympathy for the LTTE, notwithstanding the desperate and periodic campaign of Tamil chauvinistic groups and some political parties to glorify the Tigers.

However, last year when the groups attempted to organise a strident `campaign against death penalty' in different parts of the State after the Supreme Court turned down the appeals against the Special Court's order pronouncing death sentence on four accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Government was forced to ban such meetings.

Recently the State Government recommended to the Centre to continue the ban on the LTTE for a further two-year period from May 14. The first ban on LTTE was imposed on May 14, 1992.

The Government, the sources said, had also taken stringent action to contain the activities of the banned LTTE, including smuggling of medicine and fuel out of Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, the City police removed all posters and arrested 10 persons, including the printer.