Despite heavy police security, a group of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supporters sneaked into Bhopal through rail and air routes on Tuesday night to protest the visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is arriving in the state capital, police said.
"A group of Tamils including some leaders associated with MDMK have entered Bhopal. We are verifying their credentials and have not detained or apprehended them," Bhopal (north) SP Arvind Saxena told PTI, adding that the protesters have been held back to prevent them from going to Sanchi.
The protesters raised slogans against Rajapaksa demanding that he should go back from India immediately. MDMK has been against his visit as they hold him responsible for the alleged atrocities on Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Rajapaksa is arriving on Friday to lay the foundation stone of an International Buddhist University at Sanchi, about 45 km from Bhopal.
Meanwhile, MDMK General Secretary Vaiko continued his protest with large number of supporters at Gadchicholi village near Pandhurna on Madhya Pradesh-Maharashtra border and would announce his further plans later in the day. Rajapaksa will be going to Sanchi via Bhopal, sources said.
Over a dozen people from Tamil Nadu, including MDMK workers, were taken in preventive custody from Vidisha and Salamatpur near Sanchi in the last two days, police said.
While seven suspects were held late on Thursday night when they arrived at Vidisha railway station in the view of Rajapaksa's visit, nearly half a dozen MDMK supporters were detained on Wednesday at Salamatpur near Sanchi as a precautionary measure, police said.
To ensure that no Tamil protesters reached the venue, security measures have been tightened on all the entry points to Sanchi. Also, security agencies have asked railway authorities not to halt 11 trains anywhere between Bhopal and Vidisha on September 21 to prevent entry of those who may try to cause trouble in the programme.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had appealed to Vaiko to give up the protest as the programme was totally apolitical in nature and aimed at strengthening mutual ties between the Asian nations.
Image: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa