When the protesters sprang a nasty surprise

Chennai vs Kolkata IPL Match at M A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Tuesday. Photo: M_PRABHU   | Photo Credit: M_PRABHU

It was a protest that was announced in advance. Film director Bharathiraja and others went live on television shortly after lunch on Tuesday declaring an agitation to demand the cancellation of the IPL match between the Chennai Super Kings and the Kolkata Knight Riders on the Cauvery issue. But what caught police off guard was not just the number of protesters that swelled by the minute, but the way a mob breached the police cordon and turned unruly as dusk fell.

What actually happened, despite a specific alert on the imminent agitation? How did the protesters breach barricades and reach Kalaivanar Arangam, close to the stadium? Were political parties given permission to assemble at Anna Statue to agitate?

According to police sources, adequate manpower was deployed on all roads leading to the stadium. Two barricades with a strong posse of police personnel were established on the Wallajah Road following information that the protesters might march towards the stadium. “We were fully prepared to handle the situation. We were under the impression that the protesters would assemble at the Anna Statue, raise slogans and disperse or court arrest. But the numbers swelled as supporters of three independent MLAs and Social Democratic Party of India cadre joined the Naam Thamilar Katchi partymen and others at the venue. The first sign of trouble came when the leaders breached the first cordon at Anna Statue and marched to the stadium,” a senior police officer told The Hindu on Wednesday.

Each party was given a particular time to assemble and disperse. Members of Rajinikanth’s outfit and VCK and a few others came, protested and dispersed as expected. But some stayed on till others joined which resulted in the crowd swelling. Despite repeated appeals made by Additional Commissioner of Police (North) H.M. Jayaram, to disperse or court arrest, the mob surged forward breaching the first barricade.

Out of control

“It was an unruly mob with no leader. While police were negotiating with Seeman, Bharathiraja and others, some protesters started attacking cricket fans and the police. Nobody was listening to anybody...we had no other choice but to use force,” the officer said. When the protesters tried to breach the second barricade and run towards the stadium, police resorted to lathicharge. “We exercised utmost restraint till the last minute. It was only when the mob turned violent that we used force. Had they been allowed to cross the second barricade, they would have stormed the stadium and disrupted the match,” he said.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 7:01:07 AM |

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