Chennai: Protests opposing the visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to India threw traffic in the city out of gear for over three hours on Friday. The protests come at a time when the city was recovering from the traffic snarls caused by protests against the alleged anti-Islam movie ‘Innocence of the Muslims’, made by an American. Sources said more than 200 members of the Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK) led by Thol Thirumavalavan attempted to enter Sterling Road where the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission (SLDHC) was located. Their attempts were foiled as the road was closed on both sides not just with barricades but with barbed wire fences as well.
Though traffic was regulated at Sterling Road, temporary diversions were made across the city and vehicles piled up on Haddows Road, Valluvarkottam High Road, Tank Bund Road, Greams Road, Nelson Manickam Road, Kodambakkam High Road, GN Chetty Road, Venkatanarayana Road, South Usman Road, North Usman Road and Sir Thiyagaraya Road. The cascading effect was felt in Aminjikarai and on Anna Salai as well.
Meanwhile, Thirumavalavan, who attempted to ‘besiege’ the SLDHC after an agitation, was arrested along with 225 VCK cadre at 10.30 am. Some of the cadre lay down on the road obstructing traffic and were removed by force. Simultaneously, a group of Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam members attempted to besiege the BJP office on Vaidyaraman Street affecting traffic further in T Nagar area. The protestors were removed from the spot as the situation turned tense when enraged BJP members hurled stones at protestors who raised slogans against the BJP for entertaining Rajapaksa.
A motorcyclist on Sterling Road was roughed up by protesting members of the VCK after he reportedly spoke about the travails of motorists due to an agitation by the political party, to a television channel. As he was attacked, he lost footing and fell on the ground with his motorcycle bringing down a few other motorcyclists as well.
Police intervened and advised him not to invite the wrath of the protestors. The VCK members were attempting to lay a siege on the Lankan Consulate on Sterling Road. Police identified the victim as Kumar from Villivakkam. He was among the motorists stranded for nearly three hours due to the protest by the VCK cadre. He was even branded as a supporter of Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa by the protestors.