A seminar in Chennai on Sri Lankan refugees in India turned ugly with a protestor flinging a footwear at former national security adviser M K Narayanan on Wednesday evening. Narayanan was coming down the dais after his speech when he was hit by the footwear on the back.
Members of the audience and police overpowered the man, later identified as Prabhakar, 35, a native of Pudukottai, and escorted Narayanan out of the hall. Following protest calls from pro-Eelam outfits against Narayanan’s visit, police had frisked every member of the audience at Music Academy, the venue. Despite the tight police security, Prabhakar had gained entry into the seminar hall, entering his name in the registry as ‘Ragavan’ of Pudukottai.
Those present in the hall said the man walked up to the dais as Narayanan was coming back to his seat on the front row, and flung the footwear at him.
A policeman, who was inside the hall, said, “Participants and visitors rushed formed a cordon around Narayanan” and police took the attacker to the Royapettah police station.
While he was being taken away, the man raised slogans that Narayanan was the reason for the massacre of 1.5 lakh Tamils in Sri Lanka and that he had been adviser to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Earlier, speaking on ‘The Future of Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees in India’, Narayanan said the Indian stand according citizenship to refugees was based on the fact that the world over countries had become liberal.
“When Hindu refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh have been assured of getting Indian citizenship, I am sure Sri Lankan citizens will not be left behind. There cannot be any compulsion. Sri Lankan refugees cannot be forced to go back home,” said the former governor of West Bengal.
He was reacting to the speech by Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OFERR) treasurer S C Chandrahasan who said “refugees will remain refugees wherever they are, and that returning homeland was the best option for them”.
When police questioned Prabhakar, he said he was not part of any group or association. May-17 Movement, an organization which had called for a protest against Narayanan’s visit, said it had nothing to do with Prabhakar.
Thirumurugan Gandhi, the state convenor of the movement formed after the annihilation of the LTTE, said, “We don’t believe in violence.”
Police had earlier rounded up Gandhi and 99 others and detained them in a corporation community hall.
The Royapettah police registered a case and arrested Prabhakar.