Protests turn violent in western region

Attempts to hold jallikattu were thwarted in many areas by those seeking a permanent solution

January 23, 2017 01:24 am | Updated 01:59 am IST - COIMBATORE

Protesters laid siege to Minister S.P. Velumani’s car in Coimbatore on Sunday.  — Photo: M. Periasamy

Protesters laid siege to Minister S.P. Velumani’s car in Coimbatore on Sunday. — Photo: M. Periasamy

: Minutes after he flagged off a rekla race in the city, Municipal Administration Minister S.P. Velumani had to be escorted to safety as protesters tried to lay siege to his car here on Sunday.

The rekla race at CODISSIA Road in Coimbatore had a quick end as pro-jallikattu protesters interrupted the event by staging a sit-in on the road. A group of 50 protesters wanted to submit a petition to Mr. Velumani, who had come to inaugurate the race. Two of the student protesters were picked up by the police from the venue for attempting to meet the Minister.

Immediately, a section of protesters, who were at the VOC Ground, rushed to the rekla race venue and blocked the road. The crowd, which turned violent, also attempted to lay siege to the car of Mr. Velumani, who was forced to leave the venue. In order to calm down the protesters, the police released the two students.

Around 2,000 protesters who blocked the road around 10.45 a.m. left the venue only by 3 p.m. after ensuring that the temporary stage erected for the rekla race was dismantled.

In Salem District, jallikattu was planned at Koolamedu, a village located 15 km from Attur, but was cancelled as locals resisted. Collector V. Sampth tried to negotiate with the protesters but in vain. From the morning, the villagers, including women, gathered at the jallikattu ground and stopped the officials from taking up any efforts for the conduct of the sport.

Tension prevailed for about an hour in Erode district when BJP conducted jallikattu at Veerappampalayam.

Hundreds of youth and women assembled at the venue and questioned the party’s propriety in holding the event when a permanent solution was not in sight.

The party had, till the previous night, been maintaining that a ‘Kaalai Maadu’ pooja will be conducted at the venue. The arrangements for jallikattu were in place on Sunday morning with the erection of a huge banner carrying the picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ten bulls were let out through the ‘Vadivasal’ over an hour.

The crowd barged into the arena breaking through the police cordon and uprooted flag posts minutes after the event got over. For about 15 minutes, the protesters had a free run. The police personnel initially tried to control the crowd with warnings, but subsequently exercised restraint after providing a safe passage to senior BJP leader Vanathi Srinivasan and other functionaries.

(With inputs from Syed Muthahar Saqaf in Salem and R. Krishnamoorthy in Erode).

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