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Police crackdown on Mullivaikkal Memorial

Chennai, Nov 14 (): Police in an early dawn swoop, got the State Highways department to demolish the compound wall of the newly inaugurated Mullivaikkal  Memorial in Vilar near Thanjavur.

Police have booked 83 members of the Ulaga Thamizhar Peravai (World Tamils Federation) for causing damage to public property and intimidating officials yesterday when they were clearing encroachments at the Mullivaikkal Ninaivu Muttram that blocked the highway.

The official explanation is that the memorial’s compound wall and the park had encroached into the wide portion of the highway and posed problems to road expansion work which the State Highway authorities cleared in an early morning operation yesterday. This move was objected to by the activists of Ulaga Thamizhar Peravai.

The Memorial is in memory of the Tamils killed in the battle with the Sri Lankan army. Police registered cases under various sections of IPC and investigation is on. The officials claimed that the wall was built on government land belonging to the Highways Department. After demolition they also erected a fence around the cleared area and put up a board saying it was Government property. It was removed by P Nedumaran and the supporters of the World Tamil Forum, who was arrested along with 31 others.

The highway authorities started demolition of the compound wall of the Mullivaikkal memorial around 5am yesterday using earth movers and JCB equipments. The authorities claimed that 24,000 square feet of land, which has a park constructed by the memorial trust is the property of the Highways Department.

The Highway authorities allowed the trust to develop the park through an agreement signed on August 25, 2011 with a rider that the agreement should be renewed every year and the park maintenance should be by the trust. Later the agreement was revoked by the department on December 26, 2011, the officials said. While the demolition of the compound wall was carried out, a group of 15 persons resorted to road blockade and were detained by the police.

By 9.30 am, the highway officials finished removing the compound wall and put a fence around the cleared area and two boards displaying the ownership of the land were erected. The granite fountains, a high mast lamp post put up by the World Tamils Confederation were also removed from the land. After the officials left, a group of villagers removed the fence and the board put up by the highways officials.

P Nedumaran, who stays inside the memorial, came out and pacified the crowd. Addressing them, he said the issue would be handled legally and admonished the supporters for removing the fence and board erected by the highways department. Later, he too was arrested with 31 others. Police have arrested 120 persons so far, who protested against the demolition from various parts in the district.

Mullivaikkal Memorial for the martyrs in Eelam war was unveiled recently despite hurdles posed from the state government. Now, the supporters behind the monument are facing problems with the law.

Thanjavur Taluk police arrested three persons on the second day of the inauguration for creating nuisance through loud speakers.They were booked for using the loudspeaker after 10pm and charged under various IPC sections.

This is the second case against the organisers of the memorial. On day one, police registered a case against Pazha Nedumaran, and a few others for putting up posters and hoardings for the function without getting permission from police and municipal authorities.

Yet another case for displaying the pictures of slain LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran in posters and hoardings, the police reasoned. The Government had moved the court to get a stay order on the inauguration of the memorial but it could not.

The police action coming soon after the government passing a second resolution in the Assembly advocating equality for Tamils in Sri Lanka has been described as double standards. Nedumaran behind the memorial and Vaiko (MDMK) supporting him along with 20 pro-Tamil outfits is seen as a threat to AIADMK.