Jallikattu Ordinance by TN Gets Centre Nod, to be Sent to President Tomorrow
The #OcuppyMarina movement, a campaign led by Twitter hashtags, had the first taste of success on Friday evening as the Centre okayed an ordinance proposed by the Tamil Nadu government that allows the holding of Jallikattu.
Students participate in a protest to lift the ban on Jallikattu at Kamarajar Salai, Marina Beach in Chennai on Friday. (PTI Photo)
Chennai: The #OcuppyMarina movement, a campaign led by Twitter hashtags, had the first taste of success on Friday evening as the Centre okayed an ordinance proposed by the Tamil Nadu government that allows the holding of Jallikattu.
The ordinance will now go to President Pranab Mukherjee for his assent, but the Supreme Court may well have the final say on the matter as the ordinance can be challenged in the apex court.
But none of this seemed to distract the thousands gathered at Marina Beach since Tuesday from erupting in joy as news trickled in of the ordinance.
For them, the last few days have all been about Tamil pride. The Marina crowd had dabbled with a variety of causes – from slain LTTE leader V Prabhakaran to boycotting MNCs – as a leaderless movement stood up to the might of the state.
It all started off with a group of 50 people who gathered at 8 am on Tuesday. Information about people gathering at the Marina Beach promenade was circulated feverishly across social media and messenger applications. Facebook Live burst onto every newsfeed that hinted at growing numbers.
By evening, the numbers had ballooned to several hundreds. Dressed in black and shouting slogans demanding action, especially from Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, the protesters kept the voices and spirits up through twilight. As the lights faded, the police, gathered in large numbers and arranged to face the protesters, looked on warily.
Just past evening, the lights were switched off. Darkness engulfed the teeming mass of people.
That is when the crowds reacted much to the amazement of the battery of journalists and the police. They fished out their phones, turned on the torchlight, and waved the lights at the police — a sign of defiance against the forces gathered opposite to them, and, of course, a sign to the media and people watching on TV that they would continue their protests notwithstanding attempts to muzzle.
On Wednesday, tens of thousands of people joined the protest. College students, working professionals, entrepreneurs, social activists, and others came out to the streets to demand that the ban on Jallikattu under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act be revoked.
Even as the crowds swelled, and even as the state appeared to have been taken aback, the whole movement still remained leaderless.
How can so many people act in concert with no visible organiser?
Protesters had demands that were not the same: some were there to raise a hand against what they call ‘foreign forces that want to wipe out native cattle breeds’. Some were there seeking some sort of a relief for the drought-hit farmers. People disenchanted with the current central and state establishments also found a protest platform. The thread that stitches all the disparate grievances is, of course, Jallikattu.
One of the protesters who had discussions with the state ministers at midnight on Tuesday told this reporter that not many were happy with that. She alleged that the state government wanted to create a rift among the protesters to ensure that the protest gets called off. The tactic, she alleged, was to make police officials tell the protesters at Marina Beach that the interlocutors who met the ministers decided to call off their protests.
Angry protesters were a problem for others at the venue, said one present at Marina. There was no leader who called the shots, managed the crowd.
Lack of leadership worked against the whole movement as protesters directed themselves in near-opposite directions. One group of protesters vowed to surrender their Aadhaar cards and other identification documents to protest against the Prime Minister's response that his hands were tied as the matter was sub-judice. Another group of protesters, who had formed a WhatsApp group called Marina Official Update, claimed that the whole movement's response to the Prime Minister's statement was to simply keep protesting.
Despite such obvious lack of coordination, the movement got bigger. More footfall; louder voices. Slowly, a sociological evolution. Mobile toilets arrived. Food and water in abundance brought in through mini-trucks. Women and children in droves. From an all-male start, it became a gender-balanced protest.
While Jallikattu was the issue for which people joined hands, there was a larger meaning to this youth movement. On Friday, a policeman, obviously enthused by all the Tamil brow-beating, picked up the mike and gave vent to an avalanche of suppressed emotions. And his speech, available freely across the social media, summed up all this protest is about: Reclamation of Tamil rights, water resources, economic protectionism and various other causes not unseen in Tamil Nadu.
Some of the groups carried banners of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran and this is when everyone realised that their problem is way beyond just one issue.
Their ardent love for Tamil also bordered on a kind of snobbery. A few national TV journalists who spoke in English were put to inconvenience that even became plain abuse.
This reporter was also shouted at for speaking in English. They screamed: "Why do you speak in English in my state? If you don’t know to speak Tamil, you have to leave the state." My colleague from Bangalore took a hit on his chest for the same as he did not speak the language they love.
It was complex to understand the reason behind this mass protest.
Notwithstanding the differences they had, they made a change. The slogans they raised targeted Chief Minister Panneerselvam, AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala and the Centre. They kept reiterating that there is no point in relying on any of the political parties. They did not allow any political party to partner them.
This protest ground is surely fertile with many who could turn into leaders. Some of the speeches by the youth conveyed deep messages that won applause. It is a historic movement that brought quick early successes.
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