CHENNAI: Tens and thousands of pro-jallikattu protestors, who made the seafront of the Marina beach their home for past one week stormed the city roads on Monday after police used force to evict them.
Roads throughout the city, especially in and around Marina, were blocked and commuters suffered as the city came to a standstill. The public transport was pulled off the road. As the situation worsened by noon, several schools closed early and asked students to leave the premises putting them in a precarious situation.
Parents of school-going children had a rough day as they found it very hard to pick up their children from school. While older school children, who did not wait for their parents, were seen taking different ‘unsafe’ transport modes like dangerously hanging on to goods autos etc, others walked in groups towards their homes or joined the demonstrators on the road and strengthened the chorus.
“This is a disaster,” said K Marimuthu, whose daughter studies in a school in Thiruvanmiyur and was stuck in Neelankarai. “I support jallikattu too but this is wrong. It should not be at the cost of everyone else. My daughter is in school and I don’t have any way to reach her because of this. How is that right?”
Children from Montessori schools were also not spared.
“I have to take them to a house near Central. It is too hot and I don’t know when the protestors would yield,” said the auto driver, in which three little girls, unaware of the volatile situation, were travelling.
“I live in Injambakkam and am going to walk there with my friends,” said S Sneha, a student at a school in Thiruvanmiyur. “It will take me a long time and I will be very tired because I have not eaten anything but I will definitely reach home faster this way rather than waiting for the bus.”
The traffic on Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), East Coast Road (ECR) starting from Thiruvanmiyur, Poonamallee stretch after Sangam Theatre, Ashok Nagar, Ekattuthangal, Guindy and Saidapet were affected for several hours.
Traffic on OMR and ECR was opened after nearly eight hours as demonstrators sat on the road raising pro-jallikattu and anti-PETA slogans. The Kathipara flyover and Poonamalle road have virtually became parking bays as helpless drivers had to simply abandon their vehicles.
Passengers took to Metro and suburban train as traffic failed to move. Car owners standing on the pavement for hours complained that they had been caught in the jam from 9 am but were left waiting till the evening.
The hold-up on the Poonamalle road was caused after miscreants burned a police car which led to a lathi charge. Similarly, the Kodambakkam bridge was fully cut off to commuters for the most part of the day as protestors did not budge an inch from the Valluvar Kottam signal.
Almost all shops were shut and many of those that were not were forced to close and sit for the agitation. Bikes, tyres, and tables were all burnt at different junctions. With no public transport or private vehicles available, hundreds of people were seen walking long distances to reach home safe.
As the major chunk of the police force was stationed on the Marina, there was sparse deployment in city manning the roads. Still, police tried to put their best foot forward. For instance, the police organised an escort to take three people who were holidaying in Puducherry to the airport as they had to catch a flight to Ahmedabad. However, not all were lucky enough. Many foreigners were seen stranded.
A protestor tried to justify the anarchy. “We wanted a couple of hours more. The police refused. Now we will block the roads. Let us see how the people in secretariat return,” he said.
It was a 12-hour mayhem that finally saw an end at 8 pm.