Chennai: Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has gone on an indefinite fast to protest the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
The Chief Minister is protesting at the Anna Memorial in Chennai.
"Despite the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) calling for a ceasefire, the Sri Lankan government has done nothing. Rajapakse (Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse) has killed so many Tamils. Let him consider me also. I am fasting for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause," said Karunandhi after starting his protest on Monday morning.
Senior DMK leaders and Karunandhi's daughter Kanimozhi, who is a Rajya Sabha MP, have gone to meet the Chief Minister.
They say the decision to go on a fast was a spontaneous decision and Karunanidhi did not consult anyone.
DMK President and Karunanidhi's son MK Azhagiri, who is contesting Lok Sabha polls from Madurai, too went on a fast on Monday morning in Madurai and other Tamil Nadu parties too have joined in the protest.
Azhagiri said, "I am fasting for the Tamil issue in Sri Lanka in the same way as DMK leader Karunanidhi is doing."
Chief of the Dravida Kazhagam K Veeramani says Tamil Parties will continue to protest until there is a ceasefire in Sri Lanka.
"We will stop this only when there is ceasefire in Sri Lanka where innocent Tamils are being killed," he stated.
Minister of State for Statistics and Program Implementation, G K Vasan said, "The UPA Government is very concerned and is taking all necessary steps to save lives of Lankan Tamils."
Meanwhile, DMK Leader Dayanidhi Maran says the party's MPs will send a petition to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ask Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse to end hostilities against the Tamils.
"Throughout Tamil Nadu, each and every DMK cadre is fasting for the cause of Lankan Tamils. All MPs of DMK are sending a telegram to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister P Chidambaram for immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka."
However, J Jayalalithaa-led All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief (AIADMK) said the fast is a drama to gain political mileage out of the Sri Lankan Tamil issue.
"Now that the Centre's role in the Sri Lankan issue is known to everyone Karunanidhi got scared that he will loose miserably in the coming elections because he is in alliance with the Congress. I accuse him of staging this drama of fasting just to fool the people," she said.
Meanwhile, veteran journalist and Editor of Thuglak, Cho Ramaswamy says Karunanidhi's fast will not be taken seriously. "It's a fast unto death to get the kind of media attention which Jayalalithaa had got. Karunanidhi just wants attention and there is no other reason why he's doing it. He's contradicted himself always on this and no one is going to take him seriously."
However, in Delhi, Congress is worried about the fast. "We are seriously concerned about the Lankan Tamil issue and protection of the Lankan Tamils," said senior Congress leader and party spokesperson Veerappa Moily.
"I do not think Sri Lankan government can be blind against Tamil civilians. There should be a line drawn. We are concerned about Karunanidhi's health. We take these things seriously. Karunanidhi is a valuable partner of the UPA" he added.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister too has spoken to Karunanidhi and has assured him that the safety of Lankan Tamil civilians will be ensured. He says that the Indian Government will do everything it can.
On Sunday, the Sri Lankan government refused to accept the ceasefire offered by the LTTE which has been pushed into a narrow stretch of land in the northern part of the island nation due the military offensive.
But Sri Lanka’s Human Rights and Disaster Management Minister Mahindra Samarasinghe offered hope for some LTTE cadres.
"Attorney General’s department is studying the idea of granting general amnesty to the rank and file of the LTTE because we feel these people can be rehabilitated and reintegrated because they had been forced into the ranks of the LTTE. But as far as the leadership is concerned, the laws of the land will be put into place," Samarasinghe told CNN-IBN.
LTTE is reported to be holding less than eight sq km of territory.
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