What started out as a show of solidarity with protesters in Alanganallur in Madurai district became a full-blown show of strength of jallikattu supporters across Tamil Nadu on Wednesday with youngsters, mostly college students, taking the lead.
If Alanganallur was the epicentre of the pro-jallikattu protests on Monday and Tuesday, the focus gradually turned to the Marina Beach in Chennai by Tuesday night with protesters who assembled there earlier in the day refusing to leave the venue. Their protest continued overnight, and they stayed put even when streetlights were switched off.
By Wednesday afternoon, Marina Beach became a sea of protesters with people joining the crowd minute by minute. Several college students bunked classes to be at the protest venue. The protesters refused to disperse saying they would leave only if chief minister O Panneerselvam gave them an audience and ensured the conduct of jallikattu.
However, Panneerselvam stayed away from Marina Beach. He avoided taking the Kamarajar Salai when he went to Secretariat in the morning, in a bid to avoid running into the agitated crowd. Instead, he took the Anna Salai route. The chief minister held talks with senior police officials who informed him about the gravity of the situation.
In the evening, Panneerselvam announced that he would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Thursday to persuade him to promulgate an ordinance for the conduct of the traditional bull-taming sport.
Slogans were raised against People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Modi, Panneerselvam, AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikalaa and almost anyone the protesters perceived as anti-Tamil during the course of the day.
Traffic blocks and diversions were seen on several roads in Chennai throughout the day. Kamarajar Salai that goes via Marina Beach and Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), where lots of educational institutions and IT parks are situated, were the worst affected roads.
Traffic OMR when the students of the Sathyabama University staged a pro-jallikattu protest. Later in the day, techies also held protests on the OMR.
Meanwhile, protest continued for the third day at Alanganallur in Madurai district. In Madurai city, youngsters staged a protest on Tamukkam grounds on Wednesday morning. In Kovilpatti in Tuticorin district, police arrested several protesters who attempted to take out a rally against PETA.
A student suffered injuries when he jumped off a pole during a protest at Vaniyambadi in Vellore district. K Suresh, a second year student of Priyadharshini Polytechnic College, climbed on an electric pole in front of the college around 1pm. Before jumping off the pole, he shouted slogans against PETA and demanded that the central government take steps to lift the ban on jallikattu.
He was rushed to Government Hospital in Vaniyambadi. The doctors examined him and told his friends that he sustained fractures on his right leg and left hand. He was referred to Government Vellore Medical College Hospital.
Students boycotted classes and staged protests in Trichy, Coimbatore, Salem, Krishnagiri and other parts of the state.
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