Following a day of protests, detentions and arrests of jallikattu supporters, tension continued to prevail in Alanganallur on Tuesday, with a large contingent of local residents joining the protesters in voicing their demand for lifting the ban on the controversial bull-taming sport.
The agitation intensified in the wake of the detention of over 200 protesters, predominantly youngsters, who had camped overnight at the jallikattu arena and refused to leave until an ordinance was promulgated to allow the conduct of the sport.
Soon after the detentions were carried out at the crack of dawn, hundreds of residents from Alanganallur and nearby villages resorted to a road-roko, although their numbers dwindled as the day passed. Roads were blocked throughout the day in some nearby villages as well, with people voluntarily participating in the protests which seemed devoid of any leadership. “We were discouraged yesterday (Monday) by the police from joining the protest and even distributing food and water (to protesters). However, seeing them suffer for a common cause, we did not want to remain silent,” said S. Seethalakshmi, a homemaker from Alanganallur.
As the protest began to gain momentum in the morning with more and more people joining in, the police, in a bid to defuse tension, announced that they were releasing all the protesters kept under detention in different places.
Though some of the detainees dispersed following their release, more than 100 people detained at a marriage hall in Vadipatti refused to leave until their demands on jallikattu were met.
Meanwhile, people from Madurai and surrounding regions repeatedly returned to the protest site to express their solidarity. Many brought boxes of water sachets and snacks for distribution. A perceived sense of Tamil Nadu being a victim of injustices meted out by the Union government and neighbouring States dominated the mood of the protesters. R. Ramesh, a businessman from Madurai who participated in the protest, said, “Tamils have always been law-abiding citizens. But they are being taken for granted, be it Cauvery or the fishermen issue. Now, we are saying that we will not take it any more.”
Hostility to politicians
Politicians who came to express their support were treated with hostility by large sections of the crowd. K. Manickam, AIADMK MLA from Sholavandan constituency, to which Alanganallur belongs, had to leave without addressing the protesters.
Though the slogan “We don’t need politics” was raised by a section of the crowd when DMK MLAs P. Moorthy and P.T.R.P. Thiagarajan reached the venue, they sat for a few hours with the support of some locals.
The crowd objected to the waving of the Naam Tamilar Katchi flag when its president Seeman, accompanied by film director Ameer, arrived at the venue. Seeman remained at the venue for a while before proceeding to meet the protesters in Vadipatti. Samathuva Makkal Katchi president and actor R. Sarathkumar and his supporters also received a hostile reception. He was even roughed up by a few locals.
Slogans condemning the Union and State governments dominated the protest, with many denouncing the ‘silence’ of the State government.