Hundreds of students taking part in anti-Lanka protests were arrested in Chennai today when they tried to lay siege on the Raj Bhavan. They are demanding that India move a resolution against Sri Lanka -- for alleged war crimes against its Tamil population -- at the UN's human rights body meet in Geneva. They also want India to seek amendments to a resolution being sponsored against Colombo by the US to make it tougher. The UN Human Rights Council is slated to vote on this resolution on March 22.
State-wide student protests over the issue have escalated today even as the Congress-led UPA government tries to hammer out a political consensus with its major ally, the DMK.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today wrote to the Prime Minister, saying that "India should move amendments to strengthen the US resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC," and that it must "take a historic, strong, and courageous stand on the issue".
Union ministers AK Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and P Chidambaram are likely to discuss the issue with DMK chief M Karunanidhi today. Last week, Mr Karunanidhi had threatened to snap ties with the Union government saying he felt "let down" by it on the issue. He wants the Centre to amend the proposed UN resolution to incorporate the demand for an international probe and time-bound action against those who may be found guilty of war crimes in Sri Lanka, put on record that genocide of Tamils took place in Sri Lanka, and seek a referendum in Tamil-populated areas of that country.
The government has so far been non-committal over its stand on the Lankan Tamils issue.
With 18 MPs, DMK is the second biggest constituent of the Congress-led UPA, providing crucial support to a government that has, of late, been tested vigorously by several coalition partners.
The US-sponsored motion against Sri Lanka puts the island nation in the dock over alleged war crimes and rights violations against Tamil civilians during the final phase of the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Last year, India had supported a similar resolution following pressure from political parties in Tamil Nadu.