CHENNAI: You may call it the Tamil Nadu version of the Arab Spring, or it may even remind you of the anti-Hindi agitation in the state in the 1960s. It is happening — students and youngsters are on the roads and public places demanding the conduct of jallikattu, the traditional bull-taming sport in the state.
The youngsters are protesting against the failure of the central and state governments to enable the conduct of jallikatttu during the just concluded Pongal festival. They are protesting against animal welfare organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on whose petitions the Supreme Court banned the bull-taming sport.
The protest reached a crescendo when the thousands of youngsters assembled on the Marina Beach in Chennai on Tuesday. They continued their protest overnight. On Wednesday, the demonstrators refused to budge until chief minister O. Panneerselvam intervened.
After talks with senior police officers failed last night, the ruling AIADMK sent fisheries minister D. Jayakumar and school education minister Mafoi K Pandiarajan to speak with the protesters on behalf of the government. However, the protesters demanded that the chief minister issue a statement to clarify the state’s position on the Jallikattu issue and added that the protest will not cease until such a time.
Several college students bunked classes to be at the protest venue with numbers swelling as the day progressed. Film actor Raghava Lawrence was the latest Kollywood representative to express support when he joined the demonstration opposite the Ice House on Kamarajar Salai.
Protest continued for the third day at Alanganallur in Madurai district.
The impromptu agitation by youth on Marina Beach had its echo in Madras high court, when a lawyer brought the matter to the knowledge of the court. To this, the judges said the Supreme Court was already seized of the issue and it had not passed any orders even after a mention was made before the event last week. Noting that Marina Beach was not venue for protests, the bench said it could not do anything about the ongoing protests.