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Marina protesters call off stir after day-long clashes with police, Bill passage

Updated by admin on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 01:31 PM IST

Chennai: Tamil Nadu was rocked by violence by Jalikattu protesters in several parts of the State, affecting normalcy, even as the State Assembly unanimously adopted the Bill to replace the Ordinance paving the way for holding the Jallikattu events. The ruling AIADMK members were supported by the opposition parties including DMK, Congress among others. However, all through the day, incidents of arson were reported in several places in Chennai during road roko agitations. Offices and factories closed early as the city was tense following reports of widespread arson asa stones and bottles were thrown at the police, leading to police lathi charge in some places. 
 
Over 100 persons, including agitators and police personnel sustained injuries in the scuffles, and underwent treatment at various hospitals in the State, police sources said.

Late on Monday night, the isolated Marina protesters, reduced to just a fraction of the size of Sunday crowd, had to call off their protest as the main protesters, farmers in Madurai district, had not only called off the stir but also announced the date of Jallikattu event to be held on February 1. The number of the Marina protesters, which reached 50,000 to 1 lakh two days, came down to just 5,000 on Monday morning as most of the protesters stayed away following the promulgation of the ordinance and the Chief Minister's statement that the Bill would be passed on Monday. By evening, this had been reduced to just 2,000. The protesters had to admit defeat and call off the protest.

On Monday evening, a group of lawyers and a retired High Court Judge Hariparanthaman explained the nuances of the Jallikattu ordinance and also conveyed the passage of the Bill, to protesters on the Marina Beach. 
 
Throughout the day, assurances that the Bill for the purpose would be introduced in the Assembly on Monday and would be passed immediately fell on deaf ears. Attempts by the police to evict the protesters from road roko and rail roko venues in various parts of the State met with stiff resistance. Late on Monday night, police managed to convince organisers of rail roko at Sellur to give up the protest and disperse peacefully. Train services were restored in this area after five days.
 
The Vivekananda House police station was set on fire and 15 vehicles parked there were damaged. Also, near the Marina a number of huts were razed to the ground.

Madurai also witnessed incidents of arson as rail roko continued for the fourth day on Monday, and train services in several parts of Tamil Nadu were affected. Protests were held on the Vaigai river bed. A train had been stopped on the Vaigai river bridge five days ago, and it continued to be stationary there due to the protests.

At Alanganallur in Madurai, a key centre of the annual Jallikattu event, protesters refused to vacate the venue, leading to scuffles with the police in the morning. The Tamukkam ground in Madurai witnessed scuffles with the police right through the day as police attempted to disperse the crowd.

Incidents of stone-throwing took place in Chennai, particularly near the Marina, the Old Mamallapuram Road and East Coast Road, where a large number of IT companies are located.

The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly on Monday evening unanimously passed a Bill that will replace the Jallikattu ordinance. The Bill was proposed by Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, and supported by all the parties.

Even as schools and colleges re-opened in Tamil Nadu after a gap of four days, violence erupted at several places near colleges in Chennai. 

In some parts of the State, the agitation was called off after police took steps to disperse them. In a few areas, the police also arrested several agitators.

Protests were eventually called off in Ramanathapuram, Madurai's Tamukkam Grounds, Coimbatore VOC Park and Tiruchi's Anna Nagar link road.

At Erode in western Tamil Nadu, a state transport corporation windshield was smashed, and a van carrying soft drinks was attacked. Police resorted to a lathi charge to disperse the arsonists.

A group of protesters who assembled inside the district court in Trichy called off their sit-in after police personnel held talks with them.

Late on Monday, retired High Court Judge Hariparanthaman explained the nuances of the Jallikattu ordinance and the Bill to protesters on the Marina Beach, in a bid to convince them to call off their protest.

The irony of the situation on Sunday was that last week, the Jallikattu organisers wanted the event to be held around Pongal day but criticised the government for not allowing it. Armed with the ordinance issued two days ago, the State Government tried to hold the Jallikattu event, supervised by more than a dozen ministers in various parts of the State, but the Jallikattu organisers would not allow the Jallikattu event, on the ground that they wanted a permanent solution and not the ordinance! CM Panneerselvam was insulted and forced to leave Madurai for Chennai on Sunday. 


The difference between Sunday and Morning was clearly the crackdown by the police in various parts of the State, especially in the crucial Madurai district at Alanganallur and Tamukkam ground. In the morning, police had to face rounds of scuffles to disperse the protesters. The modus operandi was to remove women from the venues. Later, they tackled the other protesters, including arrests and use of force to clear the areas. This action had the desired effect as the Jallikattu organisers announced that the protests would end and that Alanganallur would hold Jallikattu on Feb 1. 

Other areas in the State quickly followed with announcements of the event on Feb 2 and so on.

The isolated Marina agitators should have called off their stir at the high point of the ordinance being promulgated, and the CM's announcement that the Bill would be brought before the Assembly on Monday itself. 

The Marina protesters, who are distinct from farmer-led Jallikattu organisers, realised late on Monday that they couldn't continue the stir, but privately believe that they would resume their agitation once the issue again came to the Supreme Court. Has the last word been said? 

It is only a question of time before a fresh challenge emerges in the Supreme Court from animal lovers. Issues relating to cruelty to Jallikattu bulls remain as covered under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Two deaths occurred during a Jallikattu event at Pudukottai on Sunday, as the bull gored them. 82 others were injured in the same event. Issues like this may crop up in the Supreme Court, which is yet to give its judgment on a clutch of petitions on the Jallikattu ban. The SC stay order is still in force. The question is will the Supreme Court stick to its consistent views against cruelty to animals or will it bow to the pressure of an agitation in Tamil Nadu.

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