Sri Lanka’s war raises Indian Tamil concern

CHENNAI, February 1, 2009 (AFP) – India’s large Tamil population is demanding that New Delhi ensure the safety of 250,000 of their brethren boxed into the battle zone in Sri Lanka’s north. Protesters have poured into the streets in Tamil Nadu state, home to 62 million Indian Tamils, in the past week to call for a ceasefire in the conflict and assurances about the safety of their fellow Tamils in the island nation.

“Our prime concern is the safety of the Tamils,” in Sri Lanka, said K. Anbazhagan, a senior leader of Tamil Nadu’s ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK) party and state finance minister.

Indian Tamils have dubbed the conflict a “race war” between Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils and the majority Sinhalese community in the tropical island, which is separated by sea from Tamil Nadu state.

The issue is a highly sensitive one in India as Sri Lanka’s Tamils share close cultural and religious links with the Tamils in Tamil Nadu, which is also home to thousands of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.

The DMK has been spearheading the campaign to ensure the estimated 250,000 Tamil civilians trapped in the war zone are protected and is pushing for a ceasefire.

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