Several delegates perceived to be strident Eelam supporters have been denied visas to participate in the Tamil Eelam Supporters Organization ( Teso) conference on Sunday, presumably to prevent any diplomatic embarrassment. The Indian foreign ministry fears that the participation of around 15 such delegates, some of them Sinhalese, event could cause awkward moments for India, sources said.

DMK MP and party spokesperson T K S Elangovan said, “Several delegates from Sri Lanka, the United States and Canada had expressed keenness to attend the conference. But they were denied visas. Though T R Baalu (DMK’s parliamentary party leader) has taken up the issue with the external affairs ministry, it is too late for the delegates to fly down to Chennai even if their requests for visas are cleared.”

Wickramabahu Karunaratne, a Sinhalese supporter of Tamil self-determination, was to attend the conference, but has been denied vis and then allowed. He told reporters in Colombo that he would take up the issue with DMK president M Karunanidhi. Sinhala leftist leader Sirithunga Jayasuriya has also been denied a visa.

Some leaders of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Tamil National Liberation Front (TNLF) have been denied visas. Prominent among them are R Sampanthan, Maavai Senadhiaraja and Mano Ganeshan.

Sources said some leaders interested in attending the meet were held back due to a threat from a Sri Lankan minister that participants from the country are being watched closely.

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