Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa's Visit Sparks Protest in Tamil Nadu

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By ambrosia sabrina | February 8, 2013 7:25 PM EST

Several protests broke out in Chennai on Friday against Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to India.

Rajapaksa arrived on Friday on a two-day visit during which he would offer prayers at Tirupathi and Bodh Gaya. He is not expected to meet Indian officials, dismissing reports that his visit was intended to seek India's support on a US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka regarding its war crimes at the UN Human Rights Council sessions in March.

Many Tamil groups including the DMK-supported Tamil Ealam Supporters' Organisation took to the streets demanding Rajapaksa's return to Sri Lanka over his government's failure to grant political autonomy to the Tamils.

Protests were also held at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi by the MDMK. Party chief Vaiko was arrested along with several supporters during the protest, reported IBN Live.  

In his 65th Independence Day speech on Monday, Rajapaksa said he was opposed to dividing the population based on ethnicity when there were no racial or religious differences.

Rajapaksa's statement sparked outrage among pro-Tamil groups accusing him of dishonouring a commitment he made at the UN Human Rights Council sessions in 2009 to empower the minority with greater autonomy as part of the nation's peace-making process.

Criticising the Sri Lankan president for not acting out on his long-stalled promise, DMK chief M Karunanidhi, who spearheaded the protests in Chennai said, "Central Government should realise at least now that the island government is not keeping its promises after the Sri Lankan President ruled out autonomy for Tamil areas," reported ANI.

On Thursday, the Human Rights Watch condemned the island state for continuing its assault on society and failing to take accountability for crimes during the conflict with Tamil rebels in 2009. The group also urged India to pressurise Sri Lanka into a peace-making process with the Tamils.  

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