In an early morning crackdown, Indian police in Chennai, Tamil Nadu forcibly removed scores of protesters, who had been demonstrating at the Marina beach for the past one week, demanding a permanent solution for holding Jallikattu.
Jallikattu is a Tamil ancient sport where youths muscle to tame bulls.
Following an advisory, the crackdown comes on a day when the state Assembly is expected to discuss the matter after the customary governor’s address.
TV visuals showed men and women in khaki physically removing the protesters, most of them clad in black, from the sands of the famous beach in Chennai, signalling the end of the week-long protests that had been backed by political parties including ruling AIADMK and DMK.
In retaliation, protesters allegedly burnt down the Ice house police station in Chennai and set vehicles on fire after being forcefully evicted from Marina beach and other sites of protest.
In Coimbatore, students and other protesters were forcibly evicted from VOC Park Ground where they were protesting for the last six days.
Police were bodily lifting and shifting them outside the ground but they were immediately returning and occupying the earlier place.
As they were being lifted the students were chanting ‘Vande Mataram’ in chorus.
In an immediate reaction, Tamil movie superstar Kamal Haasan has condemned the police action against protesters and terms aggressive police action as a “mistake” which won’t really bear “good results”.
The actor also said that violence was unworkable and students should refrain from indulging in any form of violent protests.
A large posse of cops was deployed at Marina.
The protesters, mostly students and youth, had not bought the government decision to issue an ordinance for holding Jallikattu, which was done on Saturday, and the bull taming sport held in some parts of the state.
They had vowed to carry on with their protest till a permanent solution was found to ensure the sport was held annually without any hindrance.
Senior police officials could not be reached.
The protesters criticised the police crackdown at the beach.
The police action, however, came following an early morning ‘advisory’ asking the agitators to end their ‘disciplined and peaceful’ protest as their “purpose has been fully achieve.”
The advisory, released to the media, said that tens of thousands of youth, students and general public had been protesting in Marina since January 17 urging to lift the ban on the conduct of Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and that it had been “staged in a disciplined and peaceful manner without causing inconvenience to the general public and hindrance to the traffic.”
“In fact the participants have been assisting the police throughout and have cooperated well in the maintenance of Law and Order and regulation of traffic.
“The government of Tamil Nadu has taken every initiative and has conducted Jallikattu yesterday at various places all over Tamil Nadu to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Tamil Nadu,” it said.
“Through an exemplary display of unity and discipline, the purpose of the protest has been fully achieved. Hence the participants are requested to leave the Marina in the same peaceful and disciplined manner and co-operate with the Chennai City Police,” it said.
After the governor’s address to the Assembly on Monday, the AIADMK government is set to move a bill to replace the ordinance for the conduct of the bull taming sport in the Tamil Nadu assembly.
The bill is expected to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.
Tamil Nadu Govt Ordinance copy pointers:
- In ordinance to amend the prevention of cruelty to animals act, 1960 so as to preserve the cultural heritage of the state of Tamil Nadu and to ensure the survival and wellbeing of the native breed of bulls.
- The government of Tamil Nadu has decided to exempt the conduct of “Jallikattu” from the provision of the said Central Act 59 of 1960.
- Accordingly the government has decided to amend the said Central Act 59 of 1960 in its application to the state of Tamil NAdu. 28-A.
- Saving in respect of Jallikattu, nothing contain in this act shall apply to Jallikattu conducted to follow and promote tradition and culture and such conduct of Jallikattu shall not be an offence under this act.