550 held during Eelam War memorial event in Chennai

About 550 members of various Tamil outfits including the May 17 Movement, MDMK, Tamilaga Makkal Jananayaka Katchi (TMJK), Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and others were arrested on the Marina in Chennai on Sunday when they defied the ban order and went ahead to stage a candlelight vigil for victims of the last phase of the Eelam War, the New Indian Express reported.

With an intention of paying homage to the Sri Lankan Tamils killed during the last phase of Eelam War in the island nation in 2009, about 550 members of the Tamil outfits gathered on the Bharathi Salai near the Marina Beach on Sunday evening. They marched towards the beach under the leadership of Vaiko, MDMK general secretary, Thirumurugan Gandhi, coordinator of the May 17 Movement,  and Dehlan Baqavi, SDPI Tamil Nadu unit president.

Before commencing the rally, they raised various slogans, urging the UN Human Rights Council to take steps to punish those who committed the genocide and war crimes against Sri Lankan Tamils during the civil war. The participants were holding placards through which they highlighted their demands such as international enquiry into the genocide.

Speaking  to media, Vaiko said, “Even Sri Lanka, which had allegedly committed genocide and war crimes against Tamils, has allowed paying tributes to the victims. But the Tamil Nadu government has banned the event. It is highly deplorable”.

Thirumurugan Gandhi said, “To pay tribute to the departed souls is our right and it’s a tradition of Tamils. Hence, we would continue the same kind of tribute in coming years too despite the police ban.”
Hundreds of police personnel were deployed at the Marina beach from the morning of Sunday and the visitors were grilled before the entering the beach.In the evening, the police  allowed common people, who wore black shirts, only after elaborate enquiries triggered by suspicions whether they were protesters.

Last year too, the police arrested those who came to Marina to stage a candlelight vigil. Thirumurugan Gandhi was even subsequently detained under the Goondas Act. (Colombo Gazette)