Chennai

Disciplined defiance: when thousands of anti-CAA protesters hit Wallajah Road

Police and protesters work in sync to ensure rally is peaceful

The rally by the Federation of Tamil Nadu Islamic and Political Organisations, attended by thousands of protesters, including women and children, to lay siege to the Secretariat, went off peacefully on Wednesday morning.

The police and the protesters ensured that there was no violence. Though traffic was affected on arterial roads during the protest due to the sheer size of the crowd, the police along with the protesters, ensured that vehicle movement resumed quickly.

Despite a Madras High Court ban, the federation announced a long march to the Secretariat demanding that the Assembly pass a resolution against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register.

 

Following this, the entire stretch of Wallajah Road was teeming with policemen and personnel from the strike force since early on Wednesday. The road was blocked for traffic. Barricades were placed at important points on the stretch and a makeshift stage was set up near the Chepauk Guest House.

Hundreds of policemen, senior officers including Prem Anand Sinha, Additional Commissioner of police (South), and deputy commissioners were deployed to monitor the rally. City Police Commissioner A.K. Viswanathan also inspected the security arrangements multiple times. A control room was set up at the venue and feeds from five drones and over 20 CCTV cameras were monitored by the officers.

 

Around 9.30 a.m, the protesters started pouring into the venue and by 10 a.m. there were thousands of people at the venue. “I have come here to safeguard our future,” said Khader Basha, a differently abled person who had come on a wheelchair. Around 10.15 a.m, the march began slowly and it ended near the stage around 11 a.m. Political leaders addressed the gathering till 12.45 p.m and the protest ended with the national anthem. Soon after, the crowd started dispersing.

But chaos prevailed after a few protesters staged a road roko on Anna Salai near the Anna Statue demanding that the government pass a resolution. Due to this traffic was affected once again on the arterial road. The police held talks with the protesters and the leaders of the federation also persuaded them to disperse.

 

A senior police officer said that the situation could have led to a major law and order problem. “The protesters behaved responsibly. Besides, we held multiple meetings with them and gained their trust. It was all about the goodwill the Chennai police has with the people,” he said.

Police claimed that though traffic was affected, order was restored quickly. “We had earmarked parking spots in Sivananda Salai, MMC Ground and Island Grounds. The protestors left their vehicles at these spots and walked to the venue. This prevented chaos,” said an officer. Besides the protesters also helped the police in managing the crowd and vehicles.

CMRL officials estimated that about 5,000 people took the Metro in a few hours’ time. “Usually, only about 1,500 people travel through this station. Many who wanted to avoid traffic came to our station,” an official said.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 5:56:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/disciplined-defiance-when-thousands-hit-wallajah-road/article30865216.ece

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