Tamil Nadu experienced a sort of 'Arab Spring' with thousands of youths massed on the Marina beach in Chennai on Wednesday for a second day and set to continue the protest in support of Jallikattu.
They rejected Chief Minister O Panneerselvam's appeal to end the mass protest. He promised to personally press Prime Minister Narendra Modi to issue an ordinance to allow Jallikattu, the bull-taming sport banned by the Supreme Court.
He assured the student and youth crowds at the beach that his government would take all steps to hold the traditional sport. But the appeal fell on deaf ears.
Following the massive uprising, several schools and colleges across Tamil Nadu will remain shut on Thursday, according to Times Now.
In Jallikattu, a bull vaulter is expected to hang on to the animal's hump for a stipulated distance or for a minimum of three jumps by the bull.
The Marina turned into a sea of people with several thousands of young men and women demanding an end to the ban on Jallikattu while insisting on a ban on Peta, which opposes Jallikattu.
The common complaint among protest leaders was that the Supreme Court had insulted Tamil culture by disallowing the animal sport that coincides with the just ended Pongal festival.
Support for the protesters grew, with students of SRM University in the coastal city announcing a protest outside their institution. Similar protests have been reported at other places in Tamil Nadu.
Lawyers in Namakkal district also announced a boycott of courts.
Employees of IT companies came out of their offices in solidarity.
Hundreds of college students and others sat through the night at the Marina Beach after talks with two state ministers failed on Tuesday night.
The demonstration began on Tuesday morning after police arrested Jallikattu supporters in Alanganallur town in Madurai district.
After police disconnected the power supply to the Marina Beach, the young crowd used mobile phone lights at night.
DMK working president and opposition leader MK Stalin urged Panneerselvam to meet the demonstrators and take immediate action for holding Jallikattu.
Meanwhile, the ruling AIADMK has said that a resolution would be adopted in the coming session of the state assembly seeking lifting of the ban on the bull taming sport.
It also vowed to initiate legal steps against "foreign" animal rights NGO Peta to prevent it from engaging in activities "inimical" to Tamil culture.
AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala also lashed out at Congress, her party's arch rival DMK, and the BJP over failure to conduct the sport, while lauding the students and youngsters for carrying out peaceful protests across the state.
The AIADMK government, she said, was making "determined" efforts for allowing the sport and had approached the Centre for removing the ban imposed by the Supreme Court in 2014 and upheld last year by it.
"Above all, 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 completely removing the ban on jallikattu in the ensuing Assembly session," Sasikala said in a statement.
The Assembly is scheduled to meet next week with the customary Governor's address on 23 January.
Meanwhile, the largely apolitical and peaceful protests across the state were like a mass movement in its own right.
The movement, that media reports are comparing with the Arab Spring, has so far remained apolitical. The protesters refused to meet politicians who came to the beach, according to IANS. The support for the movement spread through social media and word of mouth. The protest was entirely impromptu.
At the Marina, the thousands braving the heat initially found getting food difficult. But with appeals for food sent through social media, food packets started arriving along with volunteers.
Meanwhile, according to a report in The News Minute, as the trash started accumulating on the beach, volunteers from within the folds of the crowd staretd coordinating and cleaning up the beach. Garbage bags were distributed and people helped gather the garbage at one spot so that it is easier for the Chennai corporation to collect it.
The protesters got a boost when popular actor Vijay lent his support.
"Law was not created to rob people of their tradition and rights but to protect it," he said in a video message.
"Jallikattu is every Tamilian's identity. Those who are protesting against the ban on Jallikattu are united by the feeling that they are Tamilians but not out of compulsion or political pressure.
"I bow down to each and everyone of them," Vijay said. "I'd be really happy if those arrested are released immediately."
Actor Suriya, in between his promotional tour for upcoming Tamil action C3, lashed out at animal rights advocacy group Peta, which is aggressively campaigning against Jallikattu.
Actor GV Prakash, singer-lyricist Arunraja Kamaraj and filmmaker Karthik Subbaraj joined the supporters on Tuesday.
While Prakash and Arunraja are observing a silent protest at Marina beach, Karthik is leading the crowd in Madurai.
Thousands of youths who began their protest in Alanganallur on Monday against the Supreme court ban on the bull-taming sport were arrested a day later.
Police housed the protesters, men and women, in wedding halls. Angered by the arrests, villagers in the area took to the streets.
The Supreme Court in May 2014 had banned Jallikattu.
The court held that bulls cannot be used as performing animals either for Jallikattu events or for bullock-cart races in the country.
Since then, people have been urging the Central government to take steps to allow the sport.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Jan 18, 2017 22:51 PM | Updated Date: Jan 18, 2017 22:51 PM