CHENNAI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have avoided the sight of black flags while heli-hopping across Chennai on Thursday but with #GoBackModi trending on social media, the message may have been hard to miss. On the ground, the opposition to the visit, as part of the Cauvery protests, was complete. On Thursday, opposition parties and others carried out black flag protests across the state, with as many as 3,080, including DMK’s Kanimozhi and MDMK’s Vaiko, being arrested in Chennai alone. Chennai protestors released black balloons in the air while members of a fringe outfit climbed an advertisement hoarding across from the Chennai airport and waved black flags.
On a day when DMK working president M K Stalin refused to accept Sirkazhi Police’s summons and continued his Cauvery Rights Retrieval March from Vaitheeswarankoil in Nagapattinam to Cuddalore, clad in black shirt as part of the black flag stir against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his party colleagues in Chennai spilled onto the streets and arterial roads. They registered opposition in a resounding manner by waving black flags, blocking roads, taking out processions and setting balloons in the air.
With a view to avoiding the protesters, who had threatened to welcome him with black flags, Prime Minister Narendra Modi preferred an aerial route to reach the two venues, Thiruvidanthai and Cancer Institute in Adyar here. Protesters too took the aerial route to register their opposition to Prime Minister’s visit by setting thousands of balloons in the air with slogans of ‘Go back Modi’.
Stalin’s sister and DMK women’s wing leader Kanimozhi led the partymen at Saidapet in waving black flags at Modi. Amid sloganeering and waving of black flags by cadre clad in black, Kanimozhi led a procession before breaching the barricades near Kalaignar Arch in Saidapet, to keep moving towards the Cancer Institute where Modi was to address an event. Police, deployed in large numbers, detained her along with party many MLAs.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi should realise the sentiments of the Tamil people and proceed further to ensure setting up of the Cauvery Management Board,” she said, before courting arrest.
At Guindy, the DMK cadre staged a spirited protest as a volley of leaders led by MLAs M Subramanian and P K Sekar Babu tried to move towards the venue of Modi’s function to show him black flags and were subsequently detained. Another MLA ‘Madhavaram’ S Sudarsanam led the ‘Go Back Modi’ protest near the Saidapet court before courting arrest. Earlier, several DMK men led by former minister T M Anbarasan attempted to lay a siege to the airport as soon as Modi landed.
DMK’s Chennai South district secretary and former city mayor M Subramanian used the strategy of using balloons deftly as he set a big one marked with the slogan of ‘Go back Modi’, from the terrace of his residence at Saidapet. Later, thousands of black balloons were also let off when he led black flag protest at Guindy.
Scores of DMK cadre holding balloons took out a short rally in Saidapet. In other places too, they flew black balloons. Other organisations too adopted a similar strategy of setting off balloons.
In Chennai and its suburbs alone, 3080 people, including 353 women, were arrested for protests on roads. Besides, police estimated around 3,340 people protesting across the city, but were not arrested.
Karunanidhi too in black attire
Despite being confined indoors at his Gopalapuram residence, DMK president and former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi joined the ‘Go back Modi’ stir by wearing black dress on Thursday. A video showing him clad in black dress was circulated by the party that caught attention of the social networking groups. This apart, black flags were hoisted at Karunanidhi’s Gopalapuram residence and at the party headquarters, Anna Arivalayam. Similar flags were also hoisted at residences of DMK leader M K Stalin at Chittaranjan Salai and Kanimozhi at CIT Colony.
Five-year-old cynosure of eyes
Nila, a five-year-old child seen holding a black flag along with her mother, caught the attention of the protesters at Saidapet. Her mother had taken her along with their relatives to the protest venue to be part of the agitation against Modi for the delay in forming the CMB and CWRC.