Protesters stop rekla race

January 23, 2017 02:06 am | Updated 02:06 am IST - COIMBATORE:

Jallikattu supporters staging a protest on CODISSIA Road in the city on Sunday.-  Photo: M. Periasam

Jallikattu supporters staging a protest on CODISSIA Road in the city on Sunday.- Photo: M. Periasam

The rekla race organised by the State Government on CODISSIA Road, here, on Sunday came to an end as soon as it started, after jallikattu supporters staged a protest.

Nearly 2,000 protesters, who blocked the road in the morning, left the venue only after the temporary stage erected for the event was cleared.

The chain of events unfolded as two student protesters were picked up by the police from the rekla race venue for attempting to meet Minister for Municipal Administration and Rural Development S. P. Velumani. They were part of a group of nearly 50 protesters who wanted to submit a plea to the Minister seeking to stop the rekla race.

The Minister had flagged off the race and three teams rode their carts on the road. As the news on the detention of two youth spread via WhatsApp and Facebook, over 1,000 students, who were protesting at VOC Ground, moved to rekla race venue and blocked the road.

Though top police officials including City Police Commissioner A. Amalraj and DCP (law and order) S. Lakshmi held talks with the protesters, they continued to block the road. In order to calm down the protesters, the police released the two students picked up by the Peelamedu police and brought them to the venue.

According to the protesters, they were unhappy with the manner the event was organised with the participation of a Minister, Deputy Speaker, MLAs, MPs and local leaders of AIADMK. The District Collector and Commissioner of Police also found place on the dais.

“The ordinance permitting conduct of jallikattu was the fruit of sweat and toil by youth who protested across the State. It is a pity that the Government is claiming the credit now and conducting a rekla race for namesake. We want jallikattu to happen in the district,” said a youth from the front of the protest.

The crowd, which turned berserk, also attempted to gherao the car of Mr. Velumani who was forced to leave from the place.

Earlier, addressing the crowd, Mr. Velumani lauded the efforts of the student protesters and Chief Minister O. Paneerselvam for the promulgation of ordinance to conduct the traditional sport.

Though the crowd was pacified with the release of the two youngsters, they wanted the stage to be cleared. Police remained mere spectators as the protesters also tore a flex board of former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa kept close to the stage.

Apart from the temporary stage set up on the road, mobile toilets, food and water were kept ready at the venue for participants and crowd. Some of the agitators dumped the food, supplied at the venue, in mobile toilets alleging that authorities failed to arrange the same facilities at VOC Ground when agitation started on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the district administration on Sunday issued a press release stating that the rekla race was conducted on CODISSIA Road, under the leadership of District Collector T. N. Hariharan, on an order from the Chief Minister .

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