Tamil protestors held in Tirupati ahead of Rajapaksa visit
Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), Feb 8 : Scores of activists from Tamil groups were arrested and prohibitory orders imposed in this temple town as police went on high alert ahead of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit here Friday evening.
The activists, who had arrived here from neighbouring Tamil Nadu to stall Rajapaksa's visit, were arrested from Tirupati and at various places on Tamil Nadu-Andhra border.
Police arrested over 100 protestors at the railway stations and dozens of others at border points. A police officer said 26 activists of MDMK were arrested near Chittoor town when they were heading to Tirupati. A protestor demanded that the 'killer' of Tamils in the island nation should not be allowed to visit the sacred Hindu temple.
Security has been tightened across the town following intelligence reports that hundreds of protestors had already reached Tirupati in Chittoor district, about 50 km from the Tamil Nadu border and 135 km from Chennai.
Several Tamil organisations are opposing Rajapaksa's visit as he has ruled out autonomy for Tamil areas in the island nation. They alleged that the Sri Lankan government had gone back on its promise.
Prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more people have been imposed to prevent any untoward incident, an official said. A large number of security personnel have been deployed along the route from the airport to Tirumala.
Some activists were arrested when they arrived at the Tirupati railway station Friday morning. They were raising slogans against Rajapaksa's visit. Some wall posters and banners have also come up in the town.
The slogan on one of the posters read: "Chase out destroyer of 2076 Hindu temples, killer of Hindu temple priests".
The Sri Lankan president, along his family members and officials, will arrive here in a special aircraft Friday evening. After landing at Renigunta airport, about 15 km from Tirupati, they will motor up the Tirumala Hills.
Rajpaksa, who visited Bodh Gaya in Bihar in the morning, will be staying the night at Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam's Sri Padmavathi Guest House and worship Lord Venkateswara in the early hours of Saturday.
According to temple officials, he will take part in the 'Suprabhatha' Seva at 3 a.m. Saturday. He will return to Renigunta airport and take off for Colombo at 9.30 a.m.