CHENNAI: Thousands of cadre of DMK and its allies participated in a massive rally here in Chennai on Monday. The rally was led by party chief MK Stalin along with Congress leader P Chidambaram, VCK leader Thirumalavan and Congress State President KS Alagiri.
Chants of ‘‘don’t divide us based on religion’’, ‘‘India is our motherland’’, Unity and diversity’’ echoed in the air during the protests.
Cadres of DMK and other allies, holding party flags, banners and placards, marched on as the procession, taken out amid tight security and deployment of drones for monitoring, wounded its way from downtown Egmore to Rajarathinam stadium, a distance of about 2.5 km.
Speaking at the stadium, DMK President Stalin thanked all the cadre and police who helped in keeping the rally peaceful. He urged all the leaders to disperse peacefully and said that a massive rally against
the Central government would be planned after consultation with the cadres.
"Take back CAA, Don't stoke communal passions," were among the slogans raised by them against the Centre. The ruling AIADMK, which supported the law, also came in for sharp criticism from the protesters.
Stalin said the protest was not a march of party workers but a battalion determined to fight against the CAA. "I bow to the Tamil people for taking part in the rally and expressing your sentiments (against the CAA)," he said.
The DMK chief, flanked by Chidambaram and other leaders on the dais, said the opposition to CAA will not stop with today's agitation. The protests will be taken forward after consulting allies and by mobilising apolitical sections of the society till such time the Centre withdrew the "draconian," legislation, he said.
Stalin, whose party had days ago held state-wide protest against the CAA, said a "massive demonstration" will be held if the Centre did not budge from its stand. The DMK has been maintaining that the law was anti-Muslim and Sri Lankan Tamils.
Alleging that the ruling AIADMK tried to thwart the rally "by approaching the court," he said the court, however, negated it and ruled there was no bar on holding the agitation. "Thanks to the ruling party, it has stood behind us by publicising the rally," he said sarcastically, hitting out at the AIADMK.
Before Stalin's speech, the leaders jointly raised slogans against the CAA and the Centre. MDMK leader Vaiko told reporters the rally was "a success" which will make the Centre realise it has stirred a hornet's nest by amending the Citizenship Act.
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president KS Alagiri claimed the entire nation was "awed" by the rally which highlighted 'flaws' of BJP-led Centre vis-a-vis the Citizenship amendment. "It is our duty to take forward another freedom struggle and we have done that duty," Alagiri said.
State Secretaries of CPM and CPI K Balakrishnan and R Mutharasan, IUML leader KM Kader Mohideen, VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi MH Jawahirullah were among the leaders of alliance parties of the DMK who participated in the agitation.
DMK MP Kanimozhi and Stalin's son and DMK Youth Wing chief Udhayanidhi were among the prominent participants. About 5,000 personnel were deployed on security duty, police said. The DMK had christened the protest a "maaperum perani" (massive rally) and asked its cadres and those of alliance parties to participate in huge numbers.
A last minute attempt by two PIL petitioners to stop the rally failed after the Madras High Court late Sunday night said peaceful demonstration cannot be prevented in a democratic country, but directed the police to videograph the event.
It gave the interim direction on the PILs after the Tamil Nadu government informed that police denied permission for the rally as there was no firm commitment from the organisers on owning responsibility in case of any violence and damage to property.
(With inputs from PTI)