Janata On MISA
The Janata government’s commitment to repeal MISA is absolute and unconditional, Home Minister Charan Singh said in a statement. Clarifying the government stand on the release of political prisoners, he pointed out that maintenance of law and order was the responsibility of state governments and the Centre could not force them to act. If MISA had not yet been struck off the statute book, “it is because an examination of the proposals, for strengthening of other laws and consequential matters, as promised in the President’s address, has not been completed.”
Singh issued the lengthy clarification because he thought press reports that thousands of political prisoners were still in jails created an impression that the Janata government or his Ministry was dragging its feet. He said instructions had been issued to release all persons connected with banned organisations. So far as MISA detenus were concerned, the number had come down from 6,847 on March 25 to 592 on August I8.
Curfew Across Lanka
Dusk-to-dawn curfew was reimposed throughout Sri Lanka. Army commander, Major General Sepala Attygalle, and commander of the navy, Rear Admiral Basil Gunasekera, visited Trincomalee, which is home to a mixed population of Sinhalese and Tamils, and informed the media that the situation in the eastern coastal district was “ improving”. Sporadic acts of violence against the Tamils continue to be reported in Colombo and in other Sinhala-dominated areas. Normalcy has returned to the Tamil-speaking northern peninsula. Violence erupted following clashes between the police and civilians in Jaffna 12 days ago.
TN Observes Hartal
A one-day hartal in Madras to express sympathy for and solidarity with the Tamils in Sri Lanka was near total. The hartal had been called by the DMK, the main opposition in the Tamil Nadu assembly.