Jallikattu: Tamil Nadu’s ‘Arab Spring’ set to enter third day (Roundup)

Chennai, Jan 18 (IANS) Tamil Nadu experienced a sort of ‘Arab Spring’ as thousands of youth rallied at the Marina beach here on Wednesday for the second day and were all set to continue their protest in support of Jallikattu.

They rejected Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam’s appeal to end the mass protest. He promised to personally press Prime Minister Narendra Modi to issue an ordinance to allow Jallikattu, the bull-taming sport banned by the Supreme Court.

He assured the crowds of student and youths stationed at the beach that his government will take all steps to hold the traditional sport. But the appeal fell on deaf ears.

The peaceful protestors at the Marina beach blocked the road for some time, forcing the police to do a mild baton charge to disperse them.

Protestors comprised mostly members of various social media groups though it is also said that some non-governmental organisations (NGO) are extending silent support to the protests.

The Marina turned into a sea of humanity as several thousand young men and women demanded not only an end to the ban on Jallikattu but also a ban on People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, which opposes the sport.

The common complaint among the protest leaders was that the Supreme Court had insulted the Tamil culture by disallowing the animal sport that coincides with the just-ended Pongal festival.

Support for the protesters grew, as students of SRM University here announced protest outside their institution. Similar protests have been reported at other places in Tamil Nadu.

Lawyers in Namakkal district announced a boycott of courts.

On Wednesday, Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan claimed some organisations too are involved in the protests apart from bona fide students.

Speaking to the media, some protestors voiced the demand for Jallikattu and also spoke against the central government and liberalisation of economy.

They also demanded a ban on some multinational company products.

In Jallikattu, a bull vaulter is expected to hang on to the animal’s hump for a stipulated distance or for a minimum of three jumps by the bull.

At the Marina, thousands braved hot weather conditions and initially found getting food difficult. But as appeals for food were posted on social media, food packets started arriving along with volunteers.

“I have made several trips to the beach with food packets. We serve around 2,500 idilis per trip,” a volunteer said. Supply of water too was ensured throughout the day.

Employees of information technology companies came out of their offices in solidarity with the protesters who refused to meet politicians who arrived at the beach to mollify them.

Hundreds of college students and others sat through the night at the Marina beach after talks with two state ministers failed on Tuesday night.

The demonstration began on Tuesday morning after police arrested Jallikattu supporters in Alanganallur town in Madurai district.

After police disconnected power supply to the beach, the young crowd used mobile phone lights at night.

DMK Working President and opposition leader M.K. Stalin urged Chief Minister Panneerselvam to meet the demonstrators and take immediate action for holding Jallikattu.

The protesters got a boost when popular actor Vijay lent his support.

“Law was not created to rob people of their tradition and rights but to protect it,” he said in a video message.

“Jallikattu is every Tamilian’s identity. Those who are protesting against the ban on Jallikattu are united by the feeling that they are Tamilians but not out of compulsion or political pressure.

“I bow down to each and everyone of them,” Vijay said. “I’d be really happy if those arrested are released immediately.”

Actor Suriya, in between his promotional tour for upcoming Tamil action “C3”, lashed out at animal rights advocacy group PETA, which is aggressively campaigning against Jallikattu.

Actor G.V. Prakash, singer-lyricist Arunraja Kamaraj and filmmaker Karthik Subbaraj joined the supporters on Tuesday.

While Prakash and Arunraja are observing a silent protest at Marina beach here, Karthik is leading the crowd in Madurai.

Thousands of youths who began their protest in Alanganallur on Monday were arrested a day later.

Police housed the protesters — both men and women — at wedding halls. Angered by the arrests, are villagers took to the streets.

The Supreme Court in May 2014 banned Jallikattu,saying that bulls cannot be used as performing animals either for Jallikattu events or for bullock-cart races.

Since then, people have been urging the central government to take steps to allow the sport.