Monday, January 23, 2017

Jallikattu crackdown: Protesters turn violent; police station, vehicles set on fire

During eviction on Marina Beach, Jallikattu protesters threaten to commit suicide; police use tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Jallikattu protesters attack Ice House police station near Chennai’s Marina Beach and set vehicles on fire. (Photo: DC)

Chennai: The week-long pro-Jallikattu protest at Chennai’s Marina Beach turned violent on Monday after early morning crackdown by the police on scores of protesters, demanding a permanent solution for holding of the bull taming sport.

Police restored to baton-charge and fired tear gas to forcefully disperse demonstrators. The police action at Marina Beach led to clashes and violent protesters pelted stones at Ice House police station and set the police station and several vehicles on fire.

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.

DMK staged a walkout as soon as the Tamil Nadu Governor began his address in the state Assembly on Monday.

DMK Working President MK Stalin criticised the police action on protesters at Marina beach demanding lifting of the ban on Jallikattu and a permanent solution for holding it.

"It is condemnable that instead of holding talks with peaceful protesters, it has been attempted to end protests using police with an authoritarian mindset," Stalin, opposition leader in the state assembly, said in a statement.

He also dubbed the action as "anti-democratic."

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.

Some protesters lined up at the seashore forming a human chain and a group entered the water refusing to heed police requests to disperse. Some others staged a sit-in on the sands while others regrouped in nearby areas, shouting slogans and allegedly throwing stones on policemen.

Police burst teargas shells and reportedly baton-charged to chase away a section of protesters who had regrouped at Triplicane near Marina beach and allegedly started throwing stones at police personnel.

TV visuals showed men and women in khaki physically removing protesters from the beach.

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.

Several protestors were also seen threatening the police, saying they will commit suicide at the beach if forcefully removed from the site.

At Coimbatore, police forcibly evicted the protesters from VOC Park Grounds here where they were agitating for the last six days.

As the appeal made by senior officials to clear the grounds failed, police in large numbers started to bodily lift the protestors and shift them out of the venue.

Women police personnel were seen taking women agitators, some elderly and some with babies in their arms, out of the grounds, despite them appealing with folded hands not to disturb the peaceful agitation.

Even as some protestors were seen leaving the venue voluntarily, police removed nearly 300 protesters from there, police said.

Protesting against the police action, some youths formed a human chain on the main Avanashi chain and police made a 'mild' cane charge to disperse them, police said.

A section of protestors were raising slogans in support of their demand for a permanent act for conducting Jallikattu and against PETA and police, near the Central Jail, some 200 metres from the venue, prompting the police to take into custody nearly 300 people, they said.

Police said they had cleared the ground, venue for the Republic Day function, and it is under control of the district administration and police.

Protests are reportedly continuing in Madurai with demonstrators allegedly throwing stones at police in Alanganallur even as officials are trying to persuade the agitators to disperse.

After the Governor's address to the Assembly today, the government is expected to move a bill to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

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