Tens of thousands of DMK men courted arrest across the State on Wednesday by assembling near government offices as part of the party’s ‘fill-the-jails’ agitation against the alleged foisting of cases and arrests of senior party functionaries by the government. However, they could not fill the prisons as they planned, as they were all released in the evening.

While police sources said over 65,000 DMK workers, including 4,000 women, were taken into custody, a press release from the DMK headquarters gave district-wise figures of those who were arrested and claimed that over two lakh party cadre participated in the State-wide protest.

In Chennai alone, the protest was held in 16 centres and DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin led the agitation in his Kolathur Assembly constituency, while party Rajya Sabha member K. Kanmozhi took part in the protest near Panagal Maligai in Saidapet along with former Mayor Ma. Subramanian. Former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran and actor Kushboo participated in the protest near Chepauk.

All of them were taken into custody along with their supporters.

Even as the agitation was going ahead in various parts of the State, DMK president M. Karunanidhi told reporters at Anna Arivalayam that the participation of partymen was beyond all expectations.

“Though the government tried to discourage the participation of partymen by saying that they would be remanded to judicial custody and they could even be sent to jails in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, they have taken part in the protest with enthusiasm and gusto,” he said. Mr. Karunanidhi said these agitations would not bring any change in the attitude of the ruling party, as their true character had been exposed in the act of renting out the Anna Centenary Library auditorium for marriages and receptions.

In Kolathur, Mr. Stalin said over a lakh partymen had enlisted themselves to participate in the agitation against the vindictive politics of the AIADMK government. “The protest is also to highlight various issues including the hike in the price of milk, bus fare and electricity tariff that have seriously affected the common man,” Mr Stalin said.

Ms. Kanimozhi said the protest was the DMK’s answer to the AIADMK government’s vendetta politics. “It has been indulging in vindictive politics from day one in office and DMK leaders were being arrested without any evidence,” she said.

Asked whether agitation had also provided an opportunity for the DMK for soul searching as many DMK leaders “went too far” in their activities when the party was in power, she said it was not a moment for soul searching for her party.

“It is time for soul-searching by the press and public,” he said.