Hundreds of farmers and cadre of the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, led by its leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran, were taken into custody after they attempted to lay siege to the Tiruchi airport on Tuesday, condemning the Centre for not constituting the Cauvery Management Board. They also criticised the State government for “not exerting enough pressure” on the Centre to comply with the Supreme Court’s verdict in the water sharing dispute.
The agitation brought traffic on the busy Tiruchi-Pudukottai national highway to a grinding halt for more than an hour. The gates of the airport were shut to block entry to the agitators, with a heavy posse of police personnel deployed along the highway leading to the airport.
P. Ayyakannu, president, Desiya Thennindia Nadhigal Inaippu Vivasayigal Sangam and P.R. Pandian, leader of the Tamil Nadu All Farmers’ Federation led the agitation. Expressing solidarity with the farmers, Mr. Dhinakaran and members of his party from various districts joined the protest.
Addressing the farmers, Mr. Dhinakaran said his party stood by them, and that he was against the implementation of any scheme that was detrimental to their livelihood, be it the exploration of hydrocarbon at Neduvasal in Pudukottai or methane in the delta region.
Mr. Dhinakaran said his party, if voted to power, would ensure that the delta region was declared as a protected zone. The ruling AIADMK government was inept in handling the problems faced by the farming community and other sections of society, he said.
Mr. Ayyakannu alleged that the Centre was trying to turn Tamil Nadu into a desert by driving farmers away and bringing in corporates.
After a brief speech from his van, Mr. Dhinakaran, along with Mr. Ayyakannu, proceeded towards the airport’s entrance. Tense moments prevailed for a while when a group of people tried to force their way into the airport. The police had a tough time restraining the agitators, who tried to break the security cordon. As the agitators failed to heed repeated requests to disperse, they were arrested. Police sources said over 1,600 people were taken into custody.
Mr. Dhinakaran would visit eight districts in the western and central parts of the State, which form part of the Cauvery basin, from April 7 to 27 to highlight the issue of the formation of the Cauvery Management Board.
He would begin his tour in Dharmapuri on April 7 and cover Salem, Erode, Namakkal, Karur, Tiruchi, Thanjavur and Tiruvarur before wrapping up in Nagapattinam on April 27, a release from AMMK said.