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Imminent defeat of LTTE causes tension in Indian state of Tamil Nadu

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NEW DELHI, Apr 26, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The imminent defeat of Sri Lanka's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels is causing tension in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, as some politicians have expressed support to LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran or called for a separate Tamil homeland in the island nation.

Echoing Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister K Karunanidhi, who called Prabhakaran a "good friend and not terrorist" one week ago, Tamil Nadu's PMK party chief S. Ramadoss told the media Sunday that the LTTE is a "liberation organization".

"Prabhakaran is not a terrorist. He is fighting for the liberation of 50 million Sri Lankan Tamils," Ramadoss said, equating the LTTE chief with former South African President Nelson Mandela and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Karunanidhi has retraced his statement under pressure from the Indian government.

However, the leader of another Tamil Nadu party AIADMK, J. Jayalalitha, Saturday said she supported the establishment of a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka.

Jayalalitha, who was an opponent of LTTE, said she changed her mind after seeing pictures of Tamil civilians suffering in LTTE- held zone which is under attack from Sri Lankan government troops.

Indian police Saturday arrested two dozen people in Tamil Nadu for trying to burn Indian and Sri Lankan national flags to protest the killing of Tamil civilians in the on-going fighting in Sri Lanka and the failure of Indian government to pressure Colombo to stop the offensive against LTTE.

V. Gopalswarmy alias Vaiko, the leader of the MDMK party in Tamil Nadu, early this month said Tamil Nadu would witness a bloodbath "even if the slightest harm befell" Prabakaran and that the mind of the people of Tamil Nadu had reached the point of " volcano".

The Indian government sent two emissaries, National Security Advisor M. K. Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, a few days ago to Colombo and they met with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse on the humanitarian crisis in northern Sri Lanka.

While appealing for an immediate ceasefire to save thousands of civilians trapped in the fighting, India has said it will not send any peace-keeping mission to Sri Lanka, despite increasing calls by Indian Tamils on the government to intervene in the war.

India sent a peace-keeping force to Sri Lanka in the 1980s. Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who made the decision, was later assassinated by the Tamil Tigers.

"That was a different situation. Rajiv Gandhi was sincerely concerned with the rightful aspirations of the Tamil minorities. It is history now," Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma told the media last Friday.

Ethnic minority Tamils have been fighting a civil war with Sri Lankan government since 1983 for a separate Tamil homeland "Eelam", that has left some 80,000 persons dead so far.

With Sri Lankan government forces closing in at the last jungle strip held by the LTTE, the 26-year-old rebellion is believed to be on the verge of collapse.