Sri Lankan minister forced to leave the city

Coimbatore: A Sri Lankan Minister was today forced to cancel his participation in a function here and leave the city based on police advice shortly before Tamil Eelam supporters staged a protest against his visit.

Sri Lankan Agriculture Minister Reginald Cooray left the city this morning for Chennai without attending the function at the Sugarcane Breeding Institute here after police advised him to move apparently getting wind of the planned protest.

Apparently unaware that Cooray had left the city, around 50 workers of MDMK, Periyar Dravida Kazhagam, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal and other outfits gathered in front of the hotel where he had checked in last night on arrival and raised slogans against him and the Sri Lankan Government over the alleged war crimes against Tamils in the island. All the activists were arrested, police said.

About an hour before the protest, police escorted Cooray to the airport from where he took a flight to Chennai, they said.

In January, Thirukumaran Nadesan, brother-in-law of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had to face protests in Rameswaram.

Citing the protests, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March last to discourage frequent visits by Sri Lankan VIPs to Tamil Nadu and allow such visits only after consulting the state government.

District and police officials refused to state whether they had prior knowledge about Cooray`s visit.