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Thursday, February 05, 2009

General strike has little impact on normal life in Tamil Nadu

CHENNAI: The general strike called by the Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Movement (STPM) demanding ceasefire in Sri Lanka evoked partial response in Tamil Nadu and Puduchery. While public and private transport vehicles plied as usual, shops and eateries were shut in some areas.

Chief Secretary K.S.Sripathi told The Hindu that normal life was not affected because of the strike. Over 170 persons who tried to picket and block roads or create trouble were arrested across the State and remanded to custody. “Some shopkeepers downed their shutters on their own accord. But most of them remained open,” he said, adding that even this was confined to about “three or four districts.”

Asked what the percentage of such business establishments remained closed in these districts, he said it was insignificant. “Perhaps about 20 per cent in some pockets of these districts,” he added.

Director-General of Police K.P.Jain said the general strike was incident-free.

Government offices, banks, bus and train services and schools functioned as usual. But in a few districts stray incidents of stone pelting, closure of commercial establishments, hotels and shops and arrest of leaders and cadres of political parties were reported. Most shops and private schools remained closed in Puduchery. In Chennai, normal life was not affected, but many shops and hotels downed shutters, Twenty three advocates who indulged in violence near the Madras High Court premises were arrested and remanded to judicial custody.

According to police sources, the advocates had damaged a police vehicle and blocked traffic. Besides ransacking a cycle shop, they attacked an employee there. The advocates were also accused of misbehaving with women police personnel. Five members of the All India Students Federation who burnt an effigy of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa were also arrested.
Visible impact

The impact of the strike was felt in the northern districts, especially in Villupuram, Cuddalore, Kancheepuram, where the PMK and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) have a strong presence. Business activities in Kancheepuram district came to a halt, as shops and hotels in Kancheepuram, Mamallapuram, Chengalpattu, Madurantakam and Kalpakkam remained closed.

Buses were damaged in Coimbatore, Cuddalore, Vellore, Karur, Erode and Dindigul districts. Vellore Congress MLA C. Gnanasekaran’s office was attacked and Deva Inamudalvan of the VCK was arrested and remanded to judicial custody in connection with the incident.

Tiruthuraipoondi MLA Ulaganathan was among the 50 persons arrested for resorting to a rail rook and 99 persons who forced shopkeepers to close down and indulged in incidents of stone throwing on buses in different parts of the State were held and remanded to judicial custody.

PMK leader S.Ramadoss said all sections including traders, workers, students, advocates, small industrialists and private bus operators extended their support to the strike. “We compelled no one to participate in the strike. But the government forced transport workers to operate the buses,” he said and urged the government to release the PMK men who were arrested. MDMK general secretary Vaiko said the people of Tamil Nadu made the general strike a success despite the intimidation of the ruling party. CPI state secretary D. Pandian echoed similar views.

“The letter sent by the Chief Secretary to political parties threatening them against participating in the strike is aggressive behaviour,” Mr Vaiko said. BJP MP Su Thirunavukkarasar thanked the people for supporting the strike.


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