TN bandh evokes mixed response
While several shops and commercial establishments remained closed in Pondicherry, many others in Chennai and other parts of the state did business as usual. The Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) and Dalit Panthers of India (DPI) backed the bandh, but several other parties including MDMK led by Vaiko, PMK and the Left parties kept away from it, saying the DMK’s call was just diversionary tactic.
The ruling AIADMK remained neutral on the ‘bandh’ issue, but with the police help the state public transport buses plied on the roads, besides private auto-rickshaws and taxis. The DMK President M Karunanidhi had urged the Centre to ensure that incoming and outgoing trains and flight services be suspended during the dawn-to-dusk bandh, but its Central ally, the Congress, did not oblige.
However, thousands of DMK men and its supporters across Tamil Nadu were arrested when they attempted to block roads, to protest the ruling AIADMK’s tacit bid to foil the bandh despite expressing sympathy with the sufferings of the Sri Lankan Tamils.
In Chennai alone, a large number of them under the leadership of DMK Treasurer M K Stalin, DK leader K Veeramani and DPI chief, Thol. Thirumavalavan were arrested when they squatted on arterial ‘Mount Road’ here and disrupted traffic, shouting slogans against Sri Lankan President Rajapaksha.
In some places, Rajapaksha’s effigies were burnt and trains picketed, but intensity of the sudden wave of college students joining the protests came down on Tuesday. All those arrested were released later in the evening, police sources said.