Chennai: Violence at an anti-CAA protest here days ago was due to instigation by vested interests and the agitation spilled over to several parts of Tamil Nadu as people were swayed by rumours, Chief Minister K Palaniswami informed the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Monday.
As the protest entered the fourth day here, Palaniswami asserted in the House that 'Amma's (late Jayalalithaa) government,' will not allow any measure that may go against the minorities in the state.
"I would like to make it clear that Amma's government will always be a fortress in protecting the interests of minorities," he said.
The protest is on at Old Washermanpet in North Chennai from February 14, and it is dubbed "Chennai's Shaheen Bagh," in the social media.
A congested neighbourhood, Muslims form a sizable chunk of population here. Two streets serve as the protest venue and volunteers have put up a huge pandal to provide shade.
A young Muslim couple, meanwhile, got married at the protest venue and the groom held a placard against the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Population Register and National Register of Citizens as the marriage was solemnised.
Amid sloganeering, leaders including CPI(M) state secretary K Balakrishnan and Congress Sivaganga MP Karti Chidambaram addressed the protesters.
Palaniswami said several anti-CAA protests have already been held in the state and all of these were peaceful barring the stir on Friday here. The government had information that the violence at North Chennai was due to "instigation by some vested interests," he informed.
The chief minister appealed to Muslims to shun false propaganda and mischief by vested interests and exhorted them to cooperate to safeguard social harmony.
Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, who hails from North Chennai, said only after a DMK held event-in which a noted Tamil orator, also a DMK speaker, participated-violence followed.
While the government's announcement of protecting Cauvery delta region and state budget has been welcomed by the people, there was a bid to bring a bad name to the government, he alleged.
Narrating the sequence of violence, Palaniswami said though Muslim leaders of North Chennai had apprised police officials that they had no plans to stage a protest that day, they went on a flash protest.
The stir, which began on Friday noon, saw water bottles, slippers and stones being hurled at police personnel by evening and it led to injuries to four cops, including a woman IPS official, he said, adding they received treatment as inpatients at a hospital.
While those involved in violence were taken in two buses, one in the afternoon and the other in the evening, they indulged in ruckus and broke the windscreens.
When a 70-year-old man died of natural causes about six streets from the protest venue, it was rumoured that he died due to baton-charge by police. "Believing the rumour, Muslims staged road roko in several places of Tamil Nadu," he pointed out.
After talks, though it was agreed that protesters would disperse, they did not even after those arrested were released. Protesters raised slogans through Friday night and the agitation continued to be on till date at the same venue, the chief minister said.
"As of today, there are 150 protesters including 75 women and adequate measures are in place to see that untoward incidents do not happen," he said.
In the Assembly, Leader of Opposition, MK Stalin, who demanded a resolution seeking withdrawal of the Citizenship Amendment Act, led a walkout of his party MLAs after Speaker P Dhanapal said the opposition party could not press the demand since he already had negated it.
When DMK members argued he had only previously said a resolution plea was under his scrutiny, the Speaker replied that a communique to Stalin days ago made it clear that the matter cannot be taken up since it was sub-judice. Petitions against the CAA were pending in the Supreme Court.
Stalin, who also made a reference to violence at the anti-CAA stir here, said there were no problems between the peaceful protesters and police and demanded to know who was behind the "instigation." He also sought withdrawal of cases against protesters.
Allies of the DMK, including the Congress and IUML, too trooped out while the ruling party's ally and Nagapattinam MLA M Thamimun Ansari (Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi) also staged a walkout over the same issue.