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Rajinikanth cancels trip to Sri Lanka after protests 

The actor was scheduled to hand over 150 homes to Tamils displaced in the Sri Lankan war on 9 April. 

Manigandan KR

There are some issues even Rajinikanth backs away from. The actor has now cancelled his trip to Sri Lanka after protests by Tamil fringe groups. The actor was to hand over 150 homes to Sri Lankan Tamils displaced in the Sri Lankan war on 9 April. 

The houses were built by Gnanam Foundation, named after the mother of Lyca Productions Chairman Subaskaran Allirajah, cost Rs 22crore. 

Rajinikanth had agreed to visit Jaffna for the event after expressing a wish to visit the place that was at the centre of the Tamil struggle. 

In a letter released to the press, the actor said, "Though I disagree with the reasons given by VCK chief Thirumavalacan and MDMK chief Vaiko, I will not participate in the event." 

The actor wrote, "Subhashakaran is a loving, merciful person. He had invited me to the function in which the houses were to be given away to the poor. Around three to four lakh people are expected to participate in the event, which is scheduled to be held on April 9. Apart from me, Malaysian Senate member Vikkeswaran, UK MP James Berry and Northern Province Chief Minister Vigneshwaran were among those who were supposed to participate in this function. I was to present the keys of the homes to beneficiaries in this event, and then present a Research Building Fund to the Jaffna University."

The actor also mentioned that he was scheduled to visit places like Mullai Theevu, Kilinochchi, and Pudhu Kudiyiruppu to meet residents of these townships.

Rajinikanth wrote, " I had chosen to participate in this function for two reasons. I have, for long, wanted to pay my salutations to that soil in which lie buried lakhs of brave Tamils who spilled their blood and gave up their lives for the land they have been living on for ages, for their community, for their rights and for their self respect. I wanted to see the places those brave people had lived and moved about. I wanted to breathe the same air that those brave people had breathed.

He also added,"Not just that, I also wished to request time for a meeting with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. During my meeting with him, I had hoped to draw his attention to the fact that I am pained when I learn about fishing boats being seized regularly and my fishermen brothers, who venture into the sea for their livelihood as they do not know any other trade, being killed. I had hoped to place a request to find an amicable solution to this problem."

Giving his reasons for cancelling the trip, the actor wrote, "However, my respected friend Thol Thirumavalavan, through the media, lovingly requested me not to participate in this function. Respected leader Vai Ko too made a similar request to me through the phone. Vel Murugan made such a request through friends. Several political reasons were cited for this request of theirs. Although I cannot whole heartedly accept the reasons they have cited for requesting me to refrain from attending this function, I have decided not to attend this event."

However, Rajinikanth added, "At this juncture, I wish to point out something. I am not a politician. I am an artiste. Just as my brother Thirumavalavan has pointed out, my duty is to please the people. In future, if I am fortunate to get an opportunity to go to Lanka and meet the Tamils there and make them happy and also see the place, I would request you not to politicise it and prevent me from going there. I make this rightful request lovingly,

Several Tamil fringe groups had objected to the actor's decision to go to Sri Lanka. Thol Thirumalavan, founder of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, was quoted by reports saying, "The governments of India and Sri Lanka want to create the impression that they are doing something for the welfare of the Tamils. There is a political motive behind inviting Rajinikanth." 

The actor is currently preparing for the release of Shankar's 2.0, where he will be seen opposite Akshay Kumar and Amy Jackson. 2.0 is produced by Lyca Productions, and is scheduled for theatrical release on 18 October.