Chennai: The Madras High Court on Monday directed Tamil Nadu DGP to ensure safety of the public and pro-jallikattu protesters holding their stir peacefully even as the state government claimed that anti-social elements have infiltrated the students protests in the last few days.
Till 19 January, it was a protest by students, but after that anti-social elements had infiltrated them, state Advocate General R Muthukumarasamy said, quoting intelligence reports. He also told the court that 25 vehicles in the Ice House police station in the city vicinity were burnt and as many as 24 police personnel injured in stone pelting and hospitalised. Two sub-inspectors and four constables were severely injured, he said.
The submissions were made by the AG when petitions by two of the protesters seeking a direction to the police not to harass them came up before the court.
In his oral orders, Justice R Mahadevan directed the state DGP to ensure safety of public and pro-jallikattu protesters conducting their stir 'peacefully'. However, he said police can take action if the protesters violated the law or in the event of any untoward incident. The petitions came up for hearing hours after the police crackdown at Marina Beach, the epicentre of the agitation.
Posing questions such as why police resorted to baton charge, the judge directed the AG to instruct the DGP to ensure safety of public and protesters.
The judge also directed senior advocate R Sankarasubbu, who appeared for the petitioners, to get instructions from the protesters as to how long they will continue their agitation in the wake of the government passing an ordinance for conduct of jallikattu.
In their petitions, G Pavendhan and Senthil Kumar sought a direction to the police not to harass the protesters. Sankarasubbu claimed that police overnight unleashed force on the protesters who were peacefully protesting since 15 January last. He alleged some of the protesters 'collapsed' in the baton charge and this was not an isolated incident.
"We are only students. We may have concluded (the protest) after discussing with the legal fraternity about the ordinance passed. But the government did not have patience," he said.
Countering the charges, the AG, who traced the sequence of events leading to the promulgation of the ordinance, submitted that a number of protesting students had withdrawn their stir in view of the promulgation of the ordinance. He also said the petitions had been filed under Section 482 of CrPC and not PILs. The government was also supporting the cause of the protesters.
At 5.30 am on Monday, police made a request to the remaining agitators to leave the place and also showed them a copy of the ordinance. However, they refused to disperse and some 'unruly' among them started pelting stones, the AG said.
At this, the judge asked the petitioner's counsel how long they would continue the protest. "Who is the regulator? Get instructions, public safety is first." He also said the general public should be given safety. "The public safety comes first. If the protesters violate law it is for the police to take action."
Later, the judge adjourned the matter to Tuesday.
Some time later, senior counsel R Gandhi and advocate V Suresh made a mention before first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sundar that the police have baton charged the protesters and the whole city was paralysed. However, the judges said the single judge was seized of the matter. "We will see tomorrow."
Updated Date: Jan 23, 2017 21:17:59 IST