TAMIL NADU

Secure Vaiko release, Mann tells PM

CHENNAI APRIL 9. The Shironmani Akali Dal (Mann) leader, Simranjit Singh Mann, has appealed to the Prime Minister, A. B. Vajpayee, to use his good offices to secure the immediate release of the MDMK general secretary, Vaiko, now lodged in the Vellore prison.

In a letter dated April 7 (a copy of which was released to the Press here today), Mr. Mann, also an MP from Sangrur in Punjab, said ``there seems to be a conspiracy of silence to keep Mr. Vaiko behind bars as long as possible''. The Government counsel were also ``dilly-dallying'' in the Supreme Court in the case filed by the MDMK leader.

Pointing out that Mr. Vaiko had not been provided with a fan, though the mercury could soar upto 43 degree Celsius in the summer, the SAD (M) leader also raised the question of security for the MDMK chief while being taken in a ``rickety police van'' to Nagappatinam for an old case that had been fished out to ``further harass him''.

On the ban on the LTTE, Mr. Mann urged the Centre to lift it immediately in view of the ongoing talks between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tigers. ``It is ironic that the Government of India is engaging itself in peace talks with the NSCN-led Naga leaders, which is a very good development, but selectively chooses to remain silent about the major change of scenario in Sri Lanka''.