Women show up in large numbers at protest

From homemakers and college students to IT professionals, women join the chorus in support of jallikattu

Updated - February 19, 2017 09:02 am IST

Published - January 20, 2017 08:05 am IST - CHENNAI:

As is reminiscent from the various ‘Occupy’ protests across the globe where people climbed statues raising slogans, a lone young woman clad in a saree climbed up the statue of Tiruvalluvar at Marina beach.

She sat there silently holding a couple of banners in support of Jallikattu, as a few youngsters beat drums while those heading to the main protest venue were caught by surprise by a young woman peacefully protesting, right on sitting on the pedestal of a statue.

This single image defined the protests that entered the third day on Thursday, but also brought to the fore the role of women in these peaceful protests.

From homemakers to college students to IT professionals, and people with kids, several women turned up at the Marina to extend solidarity and join in the protests on Thursday.

Dhanapal and Senthil came to the Marina, each with his family. They came directly to the Marina after picking up their daughters, Thendral,7, and Abirami, 11, from their school in IIT campus. The two kids were still in their school uniform when they came to the protest site, holding pro-Jallikattu and anti-PETA banners.

“We want our children to learn about social issues, causes, and mainly culture. This is a good place to learn and we have brought them here only because there is no political branding to these protests,” Mr. Dhanapal said.

Almost all women that The Hindu spoke to said they felt safe at the protest venue, despite a key issue — lack of adequate toilets. “The lack of sanitary facilities is a problem in India. There are not adequate toilets here for women. But if anyone requires, I can help them use the toilets in the government buildings nearby,” Krishnaveni, a retired government employee, said.

“The government is playing with our sentiments and culture. If you trust politicians, nothing is going to happen. We have come here to raise our voice for our culture, tradition, and more importantly, our farmers,” Selvamani from Karur said. She had come with three other friends. All of them are civil service aspirants and are currently preparing for the IAS exams in Chennai.

Lalitha Ganesan, a cook, came to the protest venue from Madipakkam, after watching the protest on TV. “My son has been protesting from day one. He is here somewhere, though I don’t know where. I decided to come after watching these protests. Every one of us should fight for our culture and heritage,” she said.

8,000 signatures & counting

Meanwhile, Vijaya Chandran, who contested the 2016 Assembly elections as an independent candidate, was collecting signatures of those who were coming to the protests. She was helped by Shankar, an IT employee.

“This is an important initiative. We are collecting signatures, so that we can send it to PETA and to the courts, if required. It will be very easy for PETA to tell the world that those who are at the protest site came to visit the beach. But these signatures prove otherwise,” she said even as many youngsters lined up to sign and extend their support to the pro-jallikattu protests. The duo had collected more than 8,000 signatures since Wednesday, and plan to stay on as long as the protests continue.

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