Day 2 saw better security but traffic near US Consulate blocked for hours
Traffic on the entire stretch of Anna Salai came to halt on Saturday afternoon for close to two hours after over 1,000 representatives of Thowheed Jamath staged an agitation near the United States Consulate here protesting against the controversial film, Innocence of Muslims. Apart from motorists, two ambulances also got held up in the bottleneck.
Around 11.30 a.m., the protesters, including women and children, gathered outside the New College in Royapettah and marched towards the US Consulate on Anna Salai. Armed with anti-US posters and placards, the large group raised slogans against the US government, and women threw footwear at photographs of US President Barack Obama. The agitators demanded immediate action against the movie makers and removal of the controversial movie clips from the internet.
Following Friday evening’s attack on the US Consulate by members of Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, the premises were fortified with police deploying a riot-control vehicle. A large police party, including senior officers, intercepted the group near the Thousand Lights mosque itself and prevented them from entering Anna Salai. However, a section of the protestors managed to march on to Anna Salai bypassing police but only to be stopped 100 metres before the Consulate building by another police party.
By noon, traffic on Anna Flyover and its connecting roads came to a standstill due to the agitation. Motorists were struck on Anna Salai for nearly two hours and adjoining roads also witnessed bottlenecks.
Two ambulances, one rushing to Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital and the other to Apollo Hospital in Teynampet, were caught in the chaos. After over 30 minutes of manoeuvring through traffic, the ambulances managed to move ahead with assistance from police personnel and some motorists.
Police managed to disperse the agitators within two hours after senior officers pacified them. They were taken to the New College campus and later released. Traffic slowly returned to normal around 2 p.m.
Over 200 members of the Tamil Nadu Sunnath Jamath also staged a protest outside the Consulate around 4.30 p.m. on Saturday. They were arrested and released shortly afterwards, police sources said.
Royapettah police on Saturday arrested 17 persons attached to the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam following the attack on the US Consulate on Friday evening. Over 1,500 people, protesting against the film, damaged property outside the Consulate.