The Jallikattu protest that remained peaceful for a week in Tamil Nadu turned violent with demonstrators throwing stones at police following eviction action against them at the Marina beach in Chennai. In a street in Triplicane area near Marina beach, protesters in large numbers threw stones at police which later retaliated with a baton charge.
The police used teargas shells to disperse the protesters who assembled at several roads leading to Marina and started throwing stones. All routes to Marina Beach have been cordoned off. The eviction began after week-long protests across the state. The protesters demand a “permanent” solution by amending the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in the Assembly.
Jallikattu is a popular bull-taming sport of Tamil Nadu. The police action came as the state assembly met here on Monday for the first time in 2017 with Governor C.H. Vidyasagar Rao’s address.
The police physically pulled out the demonstrators sitting at the protest venue. The scene reminded of a ‘tug-of-war’ game but without ropes as protesters held back the colleagues who were being pulled out by the police. In Coimbatore, the police pounced on a protester who stood up with a kerosene canister and threatened to self-immolate. They were successful in taking away the inflammable liquid.
The protesters in Madurai remained adamant and the police were trying to convince them to disperse. The state government on Sunday organised Jallikattu in several places following the promulgation of an ordinance enabling the same. But the protesters demand the central government take out bulls from the list of performing animals.
The police has asked protesters in other parts of the state to disperse. Agreeing to the request, demonstrators in Tirunelveli district have decided to call off the protests.
However, the protesters have decided to continue their agitations in Madurai. Although, talks are still on between them and the police. After the promulgation of the ordinance, P. Rajasekhar, President of the Jallikattu Pathukaapu Peravai, appealed the protesters to call off their agitation. ‘Hip-Hop Tamizha’ Adhi, a rap musician whose song support of Jallikattu attracted the protesters, also distanced himself as the demonstrations were progressing in a different direction, he said.
While the protesters anger is severe against the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), in most of the protest venues there were slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam. Some of the placards held by few protesters were vulgar and indecent and there were also signs demanding separate Tamil land.
Further, thousands of regular commuters have been facing inconvenience due to cancellation of trains and termination ahead of destination owing to protests on rail tracks.
The Southern Railway on Monday announced cancellation of 16 trains. “Around 40,000 passengers are affected daily due to disruption in train services. Many passengers may be travelling to attend interviews, join duty or even for health reasons,” a senior Southern Railway official preferring anonymity told IANS.
Meanwhile, DMK’s Working President and Leader of the Opposition in Tamil Nadu assembly, M.K. Stalin, condemned the police action as authoritarian. PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss said the party was withdrawing its plans to hold Jallikattu protest on January 26 as the state government has passed an ordinance that permits the sport.