Tamil Nadu back on track but police face flak (Roundup)

Chennai, Jan 24 (IANS) Life in Tamil Nadu was normal on Tuesday after a day of violence linked to Jallikattu, but police came under attack for breaking peaceful protests and for allegedly indulging in arson.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) took suo motu cognizance of media reports that police attacked, arrested and damaged private property in order to disperse a large pro-Jallikattu gathering.

The NHRC issued notices to the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police and Chennai’s Commissioner of Police.

“The visuals on news channels show that police set on fire huts, autos, motorcycles, vegetable shops and other properties in Chennai. The bleeding students ran for their life,” it said in a statement.

“Police even entered houses and started beating people indiscriminately. The police blocked the major routes leading to Marina Beach as well as Chennai city.”

A video showing women and men in police uniform setting fire to vehicles and huts and damaging two-wheelers here on Monday went viral, sending shockwaves across the state. Police said the video was a fake.

Although a small group of people remained at the Marina beach on Tuesday, life was back on track in Chennai.

“Buses as well as suburban and metro trains are operating as usual,” an official told IANS.

A large contingent of police remained at the Marina.

The railways for the first time in recent days did not cancel any train fully though partial cancellations and diversion of trains were announced.

On Monday, police invaded the sprawling beach and forcibly began removing the thousands of young men and women massed in support of the lifting of the Supreme Court ban on Jallikattu.

This triggered largescale violence in parts of Chennai, leaving some 60 people injured and leading to about 40 arrests. Violence was also reported from distant Madurai district.

On Tuesday, noted Tamil actor Kamal Haasan expressed shock over the alleged acts of arson committed by police and also criticized the police crackdown on the Marina beach.

“This whole agitation is a symbol of discontent and decades of various kinds of anger,” he told the media here. “It is not a sudden outburst. It happened because we found a reason (to protest).”

Asked if the protest should be seen as anti-national because of the anti-India slogans raised, he said: “Several political leaders in the past have demanded a separate Tamil Nadu. Were they anti-national?”

PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss sought a probe by the CBI and by a Madras High Court judge into the violence in Chennai and Madurai.

He said there was sufficient proof to prove that police and anti-social elements indulged in the violence and not protesters.

DMK leader M.K. Stalin demanded a judicial probe into the police action.

He said the police watched the protest from the sidelines for seven days and acted just when the state assembly was set to pass a bill to legalize the bull taming sport.

He condemned Chennai Police Commissioner S. George for calling the demonstrators anti-social and anti-national.

George said the police acted on Monday because “anti-national forces” had infiltrated the Marina protest.

The police booked cases against 25 persons for violence.

At Alanganallur in Madurai district, a place known for Jallikattu, the sport will be held on February 1. It took place elsewhere in the state on Sunday.