Jallikattu chants ring loud and clear in the salty air of the Marina on Day 3. Even under the scorching heat of the 9 am sun, the crowd had begun to swell. Anyone spotted in black and walking towards the Marina was seen joining the ongoing Jallikattu protests, which were compared with Egypt’s Tahrir Square gathering and the Arab Spring revolution.
An anonymous social media message that did the rounds post Pongal celebrations is what got the crowds together, say the public gathered at the Marina to protest against the ban on the bull-taming sport.
From school-and college-going kids to IT professionals and senior citizens, there was a mixed crowd on the beach, carrying posters, screaming slogans, distributing free water and talking to the media.
Small barricades were put up by traffic cops to regulate the flow of vehicles but apart from that there was no police intervention as the swelling crowd of protestors continued to stay peaceful. Police presence was few and far between — a surprising development. Usually the police, which is controlled by the state government, is wary and watchful of any demonstrations small or large, and for which it is usually quite difficult to get permission from the City Police Commissioner.
The social-media savvy youth, who make up most of the crowd at the beach, believe however that this is a movement without any political backing. In fact, they made sure that no Tamil Nadu politician ‘hijacked’ what they believe is a people’s protest.
ALSO WATCH | In this 3-part video, we portray the sentiments, the voices, and the pulse of the city.
Part 1: Pictures talk louder- Several artists have been sketching and free-hand drawing posters for the protests.
Part 2: Slogans that echoed the sentiments of the masses and gripped the Jallikattu fever.
Part 3: Here are people from all walks of life, talking about why the ban on Jallikattu has affected them.
Many sloganeering youngsters believe this peaceful protest should fetch an outcome. Sleeping for two nights on the beach sands, spending almost 60 hours out in the open, screaming their lungs out…they say they can continue for as long as it takes — basically until January 26, Republic Day, as they have issued an ultimatum to the state government to turn things in favour of holding Jallikattu. The question arises whether the crowd took into consideration the legal and executive processes to get the ban on Jallikattu revoked and the time it would take, before they issued their ultimatum.
Some sloganeers seemed bold and brash, waiting to lash out against PETA at the drop of a hat. Some even said if an outcome is not evident soon, there would be violence. Others seemed timid and shy, believing they could mask themselves behind the crowd’s face and voice. But when one actually goes deep within the crowd, one is able to distinguish between passionate backers of the movement and those enjoying a picnic with a feel-good buzz about being associated with a cause.
The Jallikattu protests at Marina have also brought out other stories — around the women who are participating in it and how safe they felt around the men there, about the several seemingly individual efforts of charity and selflessness of volunteers, about a cooperation between the masses and the fishermen colonies living around the beach and so on.
What surprised most onlookers was the united zeal that the people — though huddled into separate groups — were displaying for a cause, at a time when a nascent government post Jayalalithaa’s demise was still negotiating their way about administration in the state.
With Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam staying back in New Delhi to work out legal means to ensure an outcome in favour of the demands of masses, it’s a wait-and-watch game for the people of Tamil Nadu.