Pro-jallikattu protests in Coimbatore end with agitation, violence

Published - January 24, 2017 07:12 am IST - COIMBATORE:

Police chase away people who took part in a road roko organised by Left parties at Gandhipuram in the city on Monday.

Police chase away people who took part in a road roko organised by Left parties at Gandhipuram in the city on Monday.

The five-day-long pro-jallikattu protest in the city culminated on Monday with a series of arrests and lathi charge. While 938 people – nearly 70 of them women - were removed from the scenes of protest, ten persons were admitted to various hospitals as police wielded the lathi to disperse protesters.

Most of them were injured in head in the police action. Coimbatore city DCP (law and order) S. Lakshmi and a policeman with armed reserve battalion were injured as protesters pelted stones at two different places.

Things started getting worse with the police taking around 50 people into custody from VOC Ground, the main protest venue, around 8.30 a.m.

“We explained them the law and they cooperated,” said City Police Commissioner A. Amalraj about the police action. Around 20 students, who resisted the police move, were also taken into custody from Avinashi Road, applying mild force.

As the 70-odd people were shifted to Meenakshi Hall near Nava India Junction, several students rushed to the spot and staged a sit-in on the road. The gate of the hall was also damaged as students turned violent. Following this, the police shifted the protesters lodged in the hall to another location. As many as 168 youths, who took part in the road roko, were also taken into custody. Around the same time, 72 people who created tension near Hotel Tamil Nadu were picked up by the police.

As the news on the arrest spread, students and other protesters staged a road roko on Avinashi Road in front of Coimbatore Institute of Technology around 10.30 a.m. With traffic choking, the cops wielded the lathi to disperse the youths. Some of the students pelted stones and pieces of bricks at the police in which a cop attached to armed reserve battalion was injured. Around 185 youths including students were taken into custody from the spot.

Tension prevailed at Gandhipuram and Dr. Nanjappa Road from 1.30 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. as a group of protesters created chaos by rashly riding their motorcycles holding placards and raising slogans. Anthony Selvom of Dindigul, who was on Dr. Nanjappa road, was beaten in his head with the lathi. Another youth named Vignesh, who resides near New Bus Stand on Mettupalayam Road, sustained injury in his head as cops allegedly pushed him on to a moving car. The police wielded the lathi on several groups that were being formed on Dr. Nanjappa Road.

As many as 152 persons, including women, were taken into custody by the police from Gandhipuram Bus Stand and nearby. “We were asked to disperse small groups that were forming in every pocket roads at Gandhipuram,” said a senior police official who was on duty.

Things were under the control of cops till 2.40 p.m. when a group of around 70 people led by leaders of CPI, CPI (M) and SFI staged a sit-in at Gandhipuram signal junction which managed to snowball participation of youths who were scattered in the series of lathi charge. Traffic at the junction was crippled for around 15 minutes as protesters did not move from the road condemning police action. Though senior leaders cooperated with the police and got into the van, a section of people remained on the road. The crowd was dispersed only after cops wielded the lathi on protesters including women. Around 100 people were removed from the place in police van.

In separate incidents, 13 from Kattoor, nine from Trichy Road near Classic Towers, and 82 people from Gowli Brown Road were also taken into custody by police. Those detained were lodged at two marriage halls at Ganapathy and Singanallur.

Sources in the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, Coimbatore, said that protesters damaged buses near a mall on Avinashi Road, Saravanampatty, Gandhipuram Town Bus Stand, Gounder Mills and Saibaba Temple. Three persons were arrested for the damage to buses.

After the protesters left the VOC ground, Jayabharathi (68) of Rasipalayam, Sulur, rushed to the venue on hearing that the police had ‘arrested’ her grandson, Santhoshkumar.

The woman, who was in tears, said that Santhoshkumar had left home on Sunday to participate in the protest. He had called her up on Monday to say that he had been arrested. The police pacified her saying that they would release Santhoshkumar by evening.

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