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India strongly condemns ‘derogatory’ article against Jaya on Sri Lanka website; TN film industry protests in Chennai

Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha witnessed two adjournments each as AIADMK members disrupted the proceedings.

Article had appeared on the Lankan Defence Ministry's website along with a graphical portrayal of Modi and Jayalalithaa. (Source: PTI) Article had appeared on the Lankan Defence Ministry’s website along with a graphical portrayal of Modi and Jayalalithaa. (Source: PTI)

India on Monday strongly condemned the “derogatory” article against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa appearing in the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry website, as the controversy rocked Parliament with an agitated AIADMK demanding a resolution to denounce it.

“The issue raised by (AIADMK leader) V Maitreyan is indeed very serious. India strongly condemns it. We will definitely summon the High Commissioner of that country and tell him about it,” External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said in Rajya Sabha after AIADMK members trooped into the Well demanding a statement from the government.

Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha witnessed two adjournments each as AIADMK members disrupted the proceedings and stormed the Well seeking a statement from the government and raising slogans denouncing the Sri Lankan President. In the Lower House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, “While matters concerning diplomatic relations are dealt with delicately, this is totally unacceptable and condemnable. There is no hesitation in condemning it.”

He also said he would convey the “strong feelings” of the members to Swaraj. But the AIADMK members were not satisfied with the reply and stormed the Well raising slogans like ‘Rajapakse down, down’ and ‘we want justice’. Raising the issue during Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha, Maitreyan said the article appearing in the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry website was “derogatory” to Jayalalithaa.

He asked whether the government would summon the Sri Lankan High Commissioner as this was “an insult” of not only the Tamil Nadu government but also the Union Government.

AIADMK leader in Lok Sabha M Thambidurai demanded that the House adopt a “strong and unanimous resolution condemning Sri Lanka” so that such incident do not recur.

In the Lok Sabha too, Swaraj shared the concern expressed by the members and said “on behalf of the government, we condemn this in the most strongest terms and assure that we will summon the High Commissioner to make him aware of the feeling of the House over the issue.”

Thambidurai earlier attacked the government for “not yet condemning” the article and to “make its stand clear” on the issue at a time when Tamil Nadu people were agitated over it. While Jayalalithaa, who is also AIADMK supremo, has written several letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issues of harassment of Tamil fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy and Kachchatheevu island, the same had been referred in the “derogatory” article as “love letters”, Thambidurai said.

He reminded the ruling NDA that it had promised during the election campaign that it would resolve the issue of Tamil Nadu fishermen who were time and again being harassed by Sri Lankan Navy. Accusing the NDA government of not doing anything to fulfil its poll promises, the AIADMK leader said, “We are Indians. But does the government feel (itself as) Indian as they seem to be more supportive of Sri Lanka? The Centre has not yet condemned this article. You should respect regional feelings also.”

Noting that the Sri Lankans are just 2.5 crore in number while there are seven crore people in Tamil Nadu, he wanted to know on whose side the government was and asked it to state what action it has taken so far in this regard. As he spoke, AIADMK members trooped into the Well raising slogans forcing Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to adjourn the House, once for about 25 minutes and later for almost two hours.

In the Rajya Sabha, as Maitreyan raised the issue, his AIADMK colleagues trooped into the Well shouting slogans, which made Chairman Hamid Ansari to observe that their behaviour was unbecoming of Members of Parliament. Earlier they had moved into the aisles displaying copies of the article on the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry website. Sri Lanka has already apologised for the article and removed it from the website.

Lanka protest

Members of the Tamil film industry today staged a protest in front of the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner’s office here over a “derogatory” article against Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on a Sri Lankan official website.

The protesters, including actor Surya, his father and veteran actor Sivakumar, Director Mano Bala and others held placards to protest in Nungambakkam, where the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner’s office is located.

Shootings of some Tamil movies were also cancelled as a mark of support to the protest call given by the film industry, industry officials said. The “derogatory” article had appeared in the Lankan Defence Ministry’s website along with a graphic image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The article triggered widespread public and political outrage in the state prompting Sri Lanka to remove it and issue an unqualified apology to the two leaders.

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