Jallikattu protests: It ended the same way it started, with just a bunch of people

What started off with few people last Monday morning and spiralled into a huge mass movement ended the way it had begun – with 30 odd people.​

Published: 25th January 2017 05:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th January 2017 05:51 AM   |  A+A-

Corporation workers cleaning a pile of garbage accumulated at Marina | D Sampathkumar

Express News Service

CHENNAI: What started off with few people last Monday morning and spiralled into a huge mass movement ended the way it had begun – with 30 odd people. But, the denouement on Tuesday was not without some twists and turns. After a lot of coaxing, waiting and negotiating, the last of the protesters dispersed from the Marina shoreline around 8 pm.

There were around 150 demonstrators in the morning sitting on the Marina shoreline, far from the original protest site opposite Vivekananda Cultural Centre. No police personnel was at the site where these people sat. However, all roads leading to the beach were cordoned off and there were policemen at every junction ensuring that no vehicle went through. Media too was not allowed beyond a point.

“People think we are affiliated with political parties but that is completely false,” said Madheswaran, who was among those who addressed the media before dispersing. “We are all Tamils and that is why we are here.”

The agitators wanted certain demands to be fulfilled before they left. These included the release of 25 people who were arrested without charges. They said many of them were not able to contact people in their group as their phones were switched off. They wanted to ensure they were safe. Further, they demanded that they receive a copy of the Bill signed and ratified by the President. On certain section of people calling them ‘terrorists’ and ‘criminals,’ they wanted to clear their name and go back with dignity.

As the day progressed, and after some persuasion, the first group of protesters retreated. While some felt they had emerged victorious others looked disheartened. “We have been victorious in our struggle,” said Sudha, a resident of Kanyakumari. “I came out only because I was convinced by people here that we succeeded. Once I understood that I convinced some others to join me.”

There were many others like her who felt a sense of pride that they had won the fight for their cause. However, others left disappointed. “We are being called terrorists, that is why we left,” said 45-year-old M Kasturi, who hails from Nanganallur. “I would not have left till the demands were met but because there is so many youths here and their future is at stake, I decided to leave.”

Women and children were part of the group on the beach.

“We came here once we saw what was happening on TV on Monday,” said Sujatha, a housewife. “We wanted to come and support this leaderless movement. None of us has any connection with any political party.” 

Those who came out were made to sit in buses organised by the police and sent to Central station or Koyambedu bus depot. Some of them did not have any money so some volunteers present there, provided for their bus fare.

Though a majority had left by 4.30 pm, there was a group of about 20 people who refused to leave. One of the women who helped mobilise the crowd to leave explained it was because there was an apprehension of arrest and backlash.

When the black flags were raised again with these people refusing to move, the police who had not intervened throughout, moved in speak to them.

Despite repeated attempts, they did not budge. However, by around 7.30 pm after speaking to the media and voicing their concerns to the police, they dispersed peacefully. The black flags waved throughout Marina all these days were finally put away and it seemed like the seafront had become just the beach it was.

India Matters


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