Chennai

A sea of protesters on the Marina

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With colleges closed, private schools announcing a holiday and traders joining in, the crowd started to swell early in the day.

The sound of the waves crashing on the shores of the Marina was drowned out by the protestors and the sound of drums in the distance on the Marina promenade as scores of people thronged the beachfront to express their solidarity and support to the jallikattu protests. People kept joining the protestors right through the day.

A light haze hung in the air and black flags dotted sections of the sands of the Marina, but protestors were extremely clear in their demand – revoke the ban, let out the bulls for jallikattu and we will then move from the spot.

With colleges closed, many private schools announcing a holiday, and traders joining in, the crowd began to swell at Marina as early as 8 a.m. and in the course of the next hour the whole of Kamarajar Salai was a sea of protestors, most of them wearing black clothes.

Over the course of the day, Chennai saw small-scale but peaceful protests in almost every locality. While traffic was minimal across the city, Wallajah road and all roads leading to the Marina came to a standstill, forcing people to park their bikes and cars and walk the stretch to the protest venue. The MRTS was jam-packed and trains were delayed, with not even a foothold available to get on the train.

Groups of people arrived in vans and mini-vans from various parts of Chennai. Many of the owners of these vehicles decided to bring people for free, while those arriving on such vehicles brought food and water for the protestors.

On the beach opposite the Vivekanandar Illam, trained dancers as well as onlookers broke into a dance. A group dug a hole in the beach and poured the contents of a half-litre bottle of Pepsi into it: the result of misinformation that the company supports PETA.

A couple of mini-vans arrived with food and water with names of little known outfits tagged on the vehicle. “We do not know who is bringing us the food and water. Most of this is voluntary. Even if it is a from a scarcely known political outfit, we don’t ask their names. They provide us the food as support for this movement and we intend to keep it that way -- non-political,” a volunteer at the main protest venue said.

R. Pazhani, a resident of the city whose moorings are in Maravanur continuously distributed tea to protestors. "I owned a bull and participated (in the jallikatu) once; people have a misconception about how it is held. I really want the government to revoke the ban," he said.

In the evening, a transgender addressed the crowd in Marina. “Transgenders are also Tamils. We are protesting along with men, women and children. This is not a protest just for jallikattu but also for farmers.”

But protesters insisted the announcements made by the CM on Friday morning did not mean the movement will die down. "Ordinances are useful for only six months. Once the Budget session of Parliament begins, this will be forgotten. We need to somehow get it into the Constitution so that it remains out of the Supreme Court's purview. Isn't that Schedule 19?" asked V. Gomathi, who teaches at Rasi College.

"As far as I'm concerned, this is not over till a bull runs on to the ring. I want that sight of a man hanging on to its hump before I can leave Marina," said I. Prawin, a student of Pachaiyappa’s College.

(Reporting by T.K. Rohit, Sunitha Sekar, Deepu Sebastian Edmond, Udhav Naig)

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 11:38:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/A-sea-of-protesters-on-the-Marina/article17072781.ece

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