Tamil Nadu back on track but police face flak

Chennai, Jan 24 (IANS) Life in Tamil Nadu was back to 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.

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.

Triplicane area near the beach which saw pitched battles on Monday between police and pro-Jallikattu protesters was calm.

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?”

DMK leader M.K. Stalin again 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.

Referring to the visuals of alleged police personnel setting vehicles on fire and attacking people, Stalin said the action showed the degradation of the force under AIADMK rule.

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.

A senior police official in Coimbatore advised youths to be cautious about some pro-Jallikattu protesters, saying some may be undesirable elements.

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.