The Chennai Police on Monday morning attempted to evict pro-jallikattu protestors who have been gathered at the city’s Marina Beach since early last week. Police personnel attempted to negotiate with protestors to get them to leave, but talks appeared to fail. Vehicles were set on fire at Ice House Police Station near the beach amid resistance from protestors.
Police reportedly used force to disperse the agitators, but a state minister denied the charge. A massive number of officers were deployed at the beach and traffic routes leading to the beach were blocked to prevent more agitators from joining.
Jallikattu supporters have been gathered at the beach from last Tuesday. At first, they demanded that the ban on the bull-taming sport be lifted, but then they said they would not stop the agitation unless a the government came up with a permanent solution to the restriction. Several leaders, including state Opposition party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and celebrities like AR Rahman, had supported the demonstrations. “Using force to disperse a crowd that is fighting democratically is highly condemnable,” said DMK Working president MK Stalin.
The police are also trying to evict protestors from Coimbatore’s VOC Ground as well as from Madurai district’s Alanganallur and Tamukkam, where jallikattu events are organised. A large number of officers have been deployed at these places. More than 100 protesting students were detained near Meenakshi Hall in Coimbatore. In Alanganallur, police resorted to baton-charging after villagers began pelting stones.
Hundreds of protestors formed a human chain to avoid eviction, and sections of the crowd also sang the national anthem. Protestors have blocked railway tracks in Tamil Nadu. Three passenger trains were cancelled on Monday – Palakkad-Tiruchirappalli, Karaikudi-Tiruchirappalli and Vanchi Maniyachchi-Tuticorin – while 19 trains were cancelled on Sunday.
Bowing to public pressure, the central and state governments had passed an ordinance on Friday, revoking the ban on holding jallikattu for six months. After the ordinance came into effect on Sunday, several districts saw both regulated and unregulated jallikattu events. Two peopled died during the sport in Pudukottai, while one died fasting over the matter in Madurai. Protestors had also prevented Chief Minister O Panneerselvam from entering Madurai district, as they demanded he found a long-term solution to the problem.