800 people taken into custody near Tirupati for Sri Lankan president's visit

800 people taken into custody near Tirupati for Sri Lankan president's visit
Hyderabad Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse was greeted by protestors today in Bodh Gaya in Bihar, where he visited Buddhist temples. In cities that he did not tour, including Delhi and Chennai, large demonstrations were held against his two-day personal visit to India, with protestors demanding that he be held accountable for alleged atrocities against Sri Lankan Tamils, who are a minority in his country.

Mr Rajapakse will offer his prayers at the famous Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh early tomorrow morning. He has landed near Tirupati with a delegation of 62 people that includes his family. He will travel by road to the temple. 800 people in the Chittoor district, where the temple is located, just 135 kms from Chennai, have been taken into preventive custody; they were reportedly planning large protests.

Political parties in Tamil Nadu say that the Sri Lankan government repeatedly violates human rights of its Tamilian population, and is reneging on an earlier commitment for autonomy for Tamil-dominated areas.

In Chennai, DMK chief M Karuanidhi addressed a gathering of 3,000 party workers along with other A-listers from his party, including his son, MK Stalin, his daughter M Kanimozhi and former union minister A Raja. In a speech, Mr Stalin, who is the treasurer of the DMK, said that the Sri Lankan president has "blood-stained hands." (Read: Karunanidhi leads protests against Sri Lankan president's visit)

In Delhi, Vaiko, the head of the MDMK, was were today detained when he, along with supporters, tried to march towards the Prime Minister's residence in protest against Mr Rajapaskse's visit.

Last year, at the United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva, India supported a resolution, sponsored by the US, for 'promoting reconciliation and accountability' in Sri Lanka after its army won a 26-year-long civil war by defeating the rebel Tamil Tigers.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had been warned that if India did not vote against Sri Lanka, the DMK would pull out of the government. Sri Lanka's Tamils have long complained of persecution by successive governments.

Story First Published: February 08, 2013 11:39 IST

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