Chennai, Nov 1 (IANS) Leading names of the Tamil film industry, including superstars Rajnikant and Kamal Hasan, joined in a day-long hunger strike here Saturday to demand an immediate end to the killings of innocent ethnic minority civilians in Sri Lanka.
Rajnikant was scathing in his attack on the Sri Lankan government.
'Sri Lanka is spilling the blood of innocent women, children and the aged. It can never progress as the curses of the weak will destroy its very existence. The regime that could not put down the brave Tamils for over 25 years ought to know that dead Tamils' bodies are being sown and not buried. Immediate stoppage of the murders of the innocent Tamils ... is the need of the hour,' Rajnikant said in an emotional speech.
Kamal Haasan said: 'It is the entire sane world's responsibility to end the mass slaughter of innocent Tamils (in Sri Lanka). Freedom fighters of every nation are always referred to as terrorists till they succeed in their cause.
'When the very existence of an entire race turns into an unanswerable question, usually extremism and violence are its by unavoidable repartees,' Haasan said, apaprently alluding to the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
While most speakers kept local political issues out of their speeches, there were different views of the expression of support to the Tamils of the island nation.
Actor-turned-politician Vijaykant told reporters separately at the protest venue that the state government was using the burning issue to divert people's attention from pressing issues such as shortfall in electricity and rising prices.
'The human chain protest and MPs' threats to resign from parliament sponsored by the ruling DMK were mere sideshows to divert attention from shortfall in electricity and price rise.
'While these programmes produced zero results locally or in our neighbouring island, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa used the opportunity to send a brother (Senior Advisor Basil Rajapaksa) to India for dialogue and another to shop for arms from Pakistan,' Vijaykant said.
AIADMK legislator and actor S.Ve. Shekhar condemned violence from both the warring sides in Sri Lanka - the armed forces and the LTTE.
'Just as we fault the Sri Lankan government, we must also condemn LTTE leader Prabhakaran for the violence. Both should eschew violent confrontation and sort out the matter through peaceful negotiations,' Shekhar said.
Pro-LTTE political leaders Thol Thirumavalavan and Tamil National Movement leader P. Nedumaran arrived at the venue towards the end of the protest with three Tamil MPs from Sri Lanka in tow.
Over Rs.4.5 million was collected from over 500 participants for relief works for the affected people in Sri Lanka.
But for the sole exception of veteran actress Manorama, the meeting was dominted by actors including 'superstars' Rajnikant, Kamal Haasan, Vijaykanth and Sathya Raj. All participants were dressed in black.
The hunger strike was organised by the South Indian Artistes' Association in its premises in a quiet southern part of the city.
General public were discouraged from entering the venue by policemen and private security guards. For the benefit of fans, huge television screens were placed outside the venue and the proceedings were projected live.