NATIONAL

Vaiko takes up plight of Tamils with Dharam Singh

BANGALORE, MARCH 24. The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary, Vaiko, called on the Karnataka Chief Minister, Dharam Singh, here today in a bid to secure the release of 300 Tamil prisoners, many of them undertrials, from various prisons in Karnataka. They include Tamil activists, K. Nedunchezhian and Gunaseelan alias Guna, who are in the Bangalore Central Jail.

Mr. Vaiko told the media later that he had taken up the plight of the Tamils living in Karnataka for generations. Many of them were abused and attacked even if they spoke in Tamil in buses. In many instances, false cases were foisted on the Tamils now in jail and there was a need to investigate and drop such cases. He said the Chief Minister immediately contacted the Home Secretary, Brahm Dutt, and asked him to look into the ``list of prisoners submitted by us and review their cases.''

In reply to a question, Mr. Vaiko said: "I am not asking the Centre to intervene, this is a matter for the Karnataka Government to deal with... that is why I came here.''

The memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister, which was also signed by L. Ganesan, MPand former Union Minister, M. Kannappan, went into the historic background of Tamils living in areas which were once part of the Madras Presidency or under its control. The areas included Bangalore Cantonment, Bellary, Kollegal and Kodagu. About 70 lakh Tamil-speaking people are now domiciled in Karnataka. They were living in harmony with Kannadigas until the Cauvery river water dispute flared up in the early 1990s, the memorandum said.

The MDMK leader was accompanied by Ginjee N. Ramachandran, former Union Minister and MP.

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