MADURAI: Over 5,000 people, mostly students, youth and other members of the public, staged a day-long road blockade in front of Tamukkam ground here, demanding lifting of the ban on jallikattu, throwing vehicular traffic on arterial Alagarkoil Road out of gear.
Students from various colleges gathered outside Tamukkam ground responding to a protest call given over WhatsApp.
What started as a rally by a few hundred students on Tuesday evening and culminated outside Tamukkam ground got strengthened as the crowd started swelling since early morning on Wednesday. Over 40 youth continued the late evening protest by staying back on the platform outside the ground throughout the night.
While hundreds of students trickled into Alagarkoil Road since morning, several groups of students took out a procession from Teppakulam that wound through K. K. Nagar and reached Tamukkam junction. Similar processions, both on foot and on motorbikes, were taken out from Nagamalai Pudukottai and Tirupparankundram, the police said.
The swelling crowd spilled over to the road blocking the two-way traffic on Alagarkoil Road. The police had to divert vehicles on Alagarkoil Road between Periyar Statue junction and Goripalayam junction.
The students raised slogans against People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and sought its ban. They demanded the conduct of jallikattu, which, they said, was the “right and pride of Tamils”.
Most of the boys and girls were clad in black and stayed put throughout the day. Volunteers served them drinking water, biscuits and food packets.
The youth in smaller groups who took position at various spots between Tamukkam ground and Goripalayam junction raised slogans against Chief Minister O. Pannerselvam for his “silence,” AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failure to lift the ban imposed by Supreme Court on jallikattu.
They were also critical of the Supreme Court for not having taken up the jallikattu case before Pongal.
They were in no mood to let Naam Tamilar Katchi founder Seeman participate in the protest. As he was trying to wave at the crowd standing near Nehru statue, students started hurling water packets, water bottles and chappals at him, forcing him to leave the place.
A couple of students attempted self-immolation and one of them threatened to jump from the terrace of the three-storey BSNL office building.
Commissioner of Police Shailesh Kumar Yadav and Deputy Commissioners of Police A.G. Babu, and S. Selvaraj, and Superintendent of Police (Coastal Security Group) Sakthivel were present at the protest spots.