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Vaiko to highlight POTA misuse in poll campaign

February 08, 2004 01:42 IST

Virtually kicking off his party's election campaign on his release from the Vellore prison where he was detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act since July 2002, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief V Gopalswamy alias Vaiko on Saturday said the alleged misuse of the anti-terror law and the political vendetta indulged in by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa would be part of his party's campaign in the impending Lok Sabha poll.

He emerged from the high-security prison, about 140 kilometres from Chennai, to deafening cheer and bursting of crackers by hundreds of party workers. Soon after he told reporters outside the prison that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's recent remark at Kanyakumari that the state had made impressive strides under the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government, was 'an atrocious lie'.

Vaiko said he had great respect for Vajpayee but took exception to the remark.

Vaiko had completed all formalities on Fridasy for his release on bail, granted to him by designated judge L Rajendran on February 3.

The Madras high court had granted bail to eight of his party men who were arrested along with him in July  2002.

All of them had been arrested under POTA for allegedly speaking in favour of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam at a public meeting in Thirumangalam in Madurai district in June 2003.

Vaiko said his party would oppose communal forces in the state along with other partners of the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance.

In keeping with the high court order of February 4, Vaiko had given an undertaking to abide by the bail conditions laid down by the designated POTA court.

The conditions include that he would be present in the trial court on all working days and fully cooperate in the day-to-day trial proceedings in the case.

He had furnished a personal bond for Rs 50,000 yesterday with two sureties for like amount, and deposited his passport with the POTA court at suburban Poonamallee.

The high court had modified the designated judge's order restraining Vaiko from leaving the city and the Poonamallee area and directing him to report on all working days. The designated judge had also told him to furnish a sworn affidavit, agreeing to all the conditions, failing which he would not be entitled to the bail.

In its modified order, the high court permitted him to leave the city after obtaining permission from the investigating officer.

Asking him to furnish an undertaking in place of the affidavit as specified by the trial court, the high court directed Vaiko to report to the IO on all working days, instead of to the designated court.

Vaiko, soon after his release from the prison, said the 20-month imprisonment had not deterred his spirits.

"It has strengthened my willpower and increased my fighting capabilities," he said about his experience in prison.

Vaiko said he never violated the prison rules which was why he became a friend to all 2500 prison inmates  irrespective of their caste, creed and political affiliations.

He claimed the Progressive Democratic Alliance, led by DMK president M Karunanidhi, would sweep all the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry as "Tamil Nadu is the land of Annadurai and Periyar E V Ramasamy and the state has never accepted the fundamentalist Hindutva principles."

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