With protests against the Supreme Court’s ban on Jallikattu entering the second day on Wednesday and spreading across Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam left for Delhi in the evening for a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
A senior minister said the initial plan was to send a delegation of AIADMK MPs to meet Modi. “But following reports of more and more people joining the protest by Wednesday afternoon, it was Chinnamma (Sasikala) who suggested that the Chief Minister should go and meet the Prime Minister in person. He will demand a presidential ordinance to ensure Jallikattu events this year,” he said.
The AIADMK said a resolution would be adopted in the Assembly seeking lifting of the ban. “While recognising the sentiments of students, youth and the people of Tamil Nadu, I firmly state that we will move and unanimously adopt a resolution seeking complete lifting of the ban on Jallikattu in the ensuing Assembly session,” party chief V K Sasikala said in a statement.
“We will make legal efforts to prevent PETA, a foreign organisation, from involving in activities inimical to the cultural pride of Tamil Nadu,” she said. “The Tamil community also knows that it was the Congress-DMK rule which gave legal recognition to PETA,” she said.
Speaking to mediapersons at the airport, Panneerselvam was quoted as saying that he would apprise Modi of the “sentiments and aspirations” of the people of the state. “The (state) government is walking the path of Amma (Jayalalithaa). We will take all legal measures till we get justice in the Jallikattu issue,” he said, according to PTI. “We should not construe that the Centre is ignoring Tamil Nadu on this issue,” he added.
As the protests escalated, the government was forced to reach out to the protesters by Tuesday midnight. “The police report sent to the government late on Tuesday evening alerted about a developing law and order situation across the state. This forced the government to depute two senior ministers, including State Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, to hold talks with a group of representatives at his residence,” said a senior police officer.
But the talks failed as the protesters demanded an assurance that Jallikattu would be held this year — it is traditionally held in the second week of January. There were hurried meetings at the state secretariat on Wednesday, after protesters across the state demanded that Panneerselvam should meet them in person. Panneerselvam and his cabinet colleagues then met Sasikala to discuss the matter. In the evening, Panneerselvam said he met representatives of the protesters and heard their demands. However, his appeal for the protests to be called off was rejected. According to reports from various districts, the protests are likely to continue on Thursday.
Meanwhile, students of over 200 leading arts and science colleges as well as engineering colleges joined the protests on Wednesday. These included some of the more conservative women’s colleges in Chennai like the Women’s Christian College and SIET Women’s College. The protests were largely peaceful, with the only lathicharge being reported from outside Sathyabama Engineering College, where students tried to block the Old Mahabalipuram Road.
“The Centre’s indifferent and unjust attitude towards Tamil Nadu has a long history, since the days of the Sri Lankan conflict to Kudankulam protests to the Cauvery issue. What we are seeing now is a culmination of various elements. After demonetisation, Gujarat, Maharashtra and even leaders like Chandrababu Naidu managed to get adequate cash. But Chennai continues to struggle for cash. The DMK too is responsible for this pent-up anger, so protesters told DMK leader M K Stalin to stay away from the protests,” said Ramu Manivannan, Political Science professor at the University of Madras.