A sea of protesters massed on Chennai’s Marina on Thursday for a third day, demanding that the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government take legal steps to hold jallikattu.
The State prepared itself for a shutdown on Friday as trade unions, traders, hoteliers and others in the service sector announced a dawn-to-dusk bandh in support.
Film industry icon A.R. Rahman said he would go on fast in solidarity with the ‘spirit of Tamil Nadu’ and chess wizard Viswanathan Anand voiced his support for the bull-taming sport.
Some District Collectors announced a holiday for schools in south Tamil Nadu, and in Chennai, individual schools said they would remain closed.
Colleges are already shut in the capital.
Frustration among the demonstrating youth boiled over as there was no solution from the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam on Thursday.
In the city of scorching summers, it appeared a bit early for spring, but thousands of people, predominantly students pressed on with their strong uprising against the Centre to redeem ‘Tamil identity and culture.’ The State government is under fire for failing to uphold Tamil rights. What started as a social media protest for jallikattu turned into a massive movement — peaceful, self-regulated and leaderless.
Women, children also join
On Thursday, families, women and children joined the students on the Marina in a rare show of solidarity reminiscent of the anti-Hindi agitation in the 1960s, also fuelled by students.
Protest meetings were held at every entry point into the Marina.
The protesters occupied every inch of the beach, listening to assorted speakers on Tamil race, identity, culture and jallikattu.
The crowds got bigger, but were in control. Volunteers distributed food and water. The protesters vented their ire on Mr. Modi and Mr. Panneerselvam for their failure.
Anti-establishment slogans were loud and clear. The protesters kept politicians at a distance, fearing they would gain mileage out of the spontaneous protests that were driven by media, social media in particular.