Thousands hit streets in Tamil Nadu for jallikattu, camp on Marina

MADURAI/CHENNAI/COIMBATORE: Protests against the ban on jallikattu continued in Madurai, Chennai and Coimbatore on Tuesday, a day after Pongal festival got over. Thousands of young and student protesters vowed to continue their protests through the night and Wednesday.

On Tuesday morning, police evicted more than 220 youths from the Alanganallursite, near Madurai, where the event used to be staged in a big way. As the news of the eviction spread through social media and text messaging, more people from surrounding villages and Madurai poured into Alanganallur.

In Chennai, the protesters, dressed in black, shouted slogans against state and central governments. Actor Parthiban who arrived at the venue to express solidarity with the protesters was initially welcomed but when he began to give interviews to the electronic media the crowd booed him and asked him to leave.

In Chennai, the protesters gathered on Marina Beach and converged near the Vivekananda House. They had no specific demands although as the evening wore on they recalled promises to hold jallikattu that were not kept including one by chief minister O Panneerselvam. Protesters gathered on both sides of the road but they regulated the traffic to ensure it was not blocked. The protests were peaceful although riot police were stationed nearby in case of violence. Young and tech savvy , the protesters said they were concerned about hurt to Tamil pride and wanted to protect their culture.
They said the Supreme Court ban was unjust and political parties and state and central governments had failed them.
Film stars were given an enthusiastic welcome.R J Balaji was warmly greeted. Food and water was arranged so no one was hungry .

In Madurai, in a sign that the protests were spontaneous and unattached to any political party , the protesters threw footwear and water packets at Sholavandan AIADMK MLA K Manickam who tried to talk to them. DMK MLAs P Moorthy and PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan also had to retreat.
Directors Ameer and Karthik Subbaraj along with Naam Tamilar Katchi leader Seeman turned up to express solidarity . Those who had been evicted and detained at a marriage hall resorted to a hunger strike. They were released in batches but some refused to leave and continued their protest.
A group of protesters blocked the Madurai-Trichy highway at Othakadai for about 30 minutes. In many areas in the city , police tried to evict agitators by detaining them or disbursed them through force.

“Police did not know how to treat the youths.We are not criminals to be lathi-charged,” said J Manikandan, a second-year college student from Madurai city.

Madurai district superintendent of police Vijayendra S Bidari said security arrangements with around 2,500 police personnel drawn from neighbouring districts had been in place. Not even one jallikattu bull was allowed to be let loose through the `vadivaasal’, he said.

  There have been several arrests and detentions, he said.
In Coimbatore, police foiled attempts by Sular farmers to conduct jallikattu by shifting to another venue. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 youngsters gathered outside VOC park grounds supporting the protest in Alanganallur.
Late in the evening, more youths poured in and the plan was to continue to camp at the grounds on Wednesday.

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