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Tamil Nadu traders’ chief held for forcing shutdown

Vellaiyyan, the president of a federation of traders’ associations, was arrested in Chennai yesterday for forcing establishments to down their shutters in the state to seek the central government’s intervention to end attacks in Sri Lanka, police said.

A top police official said that the federation was forcing the closure of shops and eateries with the help of pro-LTTE political parties, leading to Vellaiyyan’s arrest.

Members of the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that the federation was forcing traders to close their shops. Vellaiyyan had however claimed before his arrest that over 5,500 of its affiliated bodies comprising 2.5 million members were voluntarily participating in the protest.

Most shops were closed not only all over Tamil Nadu but also in the neighbouring union territory of Puducherry Friday. The protest was backed by Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, an ally of the ruling DMK and several trade union federation members.

Vellaiyyan had justified the protest during an interaction with reporters Thursday, saying the shutdown was being necessitated because the ruling DMK MPs’ threat to resign from parliament lapsed without any results and the killings in Sri Lanka have continued unabated.

The Tamil Nadu government, meanwhile, said in a press release that no individual or private organisation was authorised to collect relief materials for Sri Lankan Tamils.

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