Protests held in southern India over Tamil suffering in Sri Lanka

Other News Materials 30 January 2009 16:54 (UTC +04:00)

Hundreds of people Friday held protests in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu over the plight of the Tamil ethnic minority caught in the war in Sri Lanka, news reports and officials said.

A day after a protestor set himself ablaze to highlight the suffering of the Sri Lankan Tamils, there was growing tension in the state capital, Chennai, which witnessed a number of protests, reported  dpa.

Almost 5,000 students were expected to attend the funeral of the protestor, the NDTV network reported.

Because of a number of demonstrations, traffic was blocked at several intersections in Chennai as police foiled an attack on the Sri Lankan consulate in the city.

Police officials said 34 students at a law college were arrested and questioning revealed that they had planned to storm the mission.

Lawyers from the Chennai High Court also held protests and burned portraits and photographs of Indian and Sri Lankan leaders.

They did not go to work at the court and instead demanded protection for Sri Lankan Tamils and planned to launch an indefinite strike, the Times Now news channel reported.

Regional political parties also said they planned protests in the city.

Tamils in the southern Indian state, estimated to number about 60 million, have close links with Sri Lanka's Tamils, and anger has been growing in Tamil Nadu because of allegations among its people that scores of innocent Tamils have been killed by the Sri Lankan military in the name of fighting Tamil separatist rebels.

Regional political outfits are also critical of what they call the Indian government's inaction in protecting Tamils in Sri Lanka and have pressed New Delhi to monitor their plight.

Aid agencies estimated that 250,000 civilians were trapped in rebel-held areas in northern Sri Lanka, where the fighting is raging. The government said the figure might be around 150,000.

Meanwhile, a Sri Lankan Tamil youth was detained at the Chennai airport Thursday night. Local news channels reported that the man was believed to be close to the Tamil rebel leadership and was being questioned by intelligence officials.