The News Minute | December 30, 2014 | 09.15 am IST
An exclusive 30 minute interview of a Chennai-based TV channel with Sri Lankan President Mahinde Rajapaksa was met with protests in Chennai against the TV channel's office after MDMK leader Vaiko called for the cancellation of the telecast.
As President Rajapaksa readies himself for the presidential elections in January 2015, the interview itself has been aired at a time of growing hostility against him from some parties in Tamil Nadu over the fishermen issue, reported The Times of India.
MDMK leader Vaiko on Monday called for a cancellation of the interview saying that it was a propaganda mechanism to paint a positive picture of Rajapaksa ahead of the impending elections. Even VCK chief Thol. Thirumavalavan appealed to the Thanthi TV office to call off the telecast, reported The Hindu.
Following this, nearly 150 protesters assembled outside the Daily Thanthi office in Chennai. Stones and tube lights were hurled at the office, after which some protesters were arrested, said the report.
The protest did not go down well with media with the Reporter's Guild releasing a statement against both leaders, Vaiko and Thirumavalavan, "The statements issued by these two leaders are a direct affront to the concept of freedom of the press, and a crude attempt to muzzle and choke the press, even threatening physical attacks against the office and crew of Thanthi TV.
"Media organisations have even carried interviews of organisations like the LTTE which is banned in India. In this case, Rajapaksa's organisation is not even banned. Press organisations are entitled to carry his views through interviews or press statements. Many media organisations have carried or telecast Rajapakse's election campaign as well," it said.
Rajapaksa said that he and the Indian Prime Minister had spoken many times. He also said that opening up Indiaâ€™s foreign policy had enabled him to come to a decision to allow the release of five Indian fishermen who had been sentenced to death by a Lankan court on drug-related charges.
Denying allegations of attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen, he said,â€ť We have nothing to do with any attacks. We donâ€™t do it. We have given clear instruction that we must not attack anybody,â€ť said the report.
China and Sri Lanka
Rajapaksa touched upon the issue of Chinese ships being allowed to dock at Lanka ports. He said that every time Chinese warships entered the area, they would inform the Indian high commissioner in Colombo.
When asked if he was anti-Tamil, he dismissed the idea as he gave examples of relatives within his own family married to Tamils. I canâ€™t be taking sides thinking about religion, caste and race, he said according to the report.
The entire interview by Thanthi TV with Sri Lankan President Mahinde Rajapaksa