Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Organiser less protest ; a well organised protest for saving the bull embracing sport

It was an organiser-less protest, yet it turned out to be the most well-organised stir of all time. This was what came to mind when I witnessed the mass protests being organised in public places in Chennai for lifting the ban on Jallikattu, Tamil culture's own bull embracing sport.

A group of youngsters from Tambaram, Selaiyur and Hastinapuram, neighbourhoods of the city’s suburbs, converged at various parts of Tambaram, including the railway station, bus terminal and municipality park on Tuesday (Jan 17, 2017) evening. I was taken there by one of my colleagues (Balasubramani Muniyandi In picture below holding placard) to participate in the protest. It has been two years since I took part in a protest. As I joined the media I could not take part any more and now it was for Jallikattu I have become an agitator again.

They raised slogans and held placards, demanding the lifting of the ban on holding Jallikattu. The youth also addressed the public and created awareness on the importance of jallikattu and the science behind the bull-embracing (eru thazhuvuthal) sport. There was instant reaction from the public who joined the protesting group. They joined the chorus of raising slogans and took part in the rally from Tambaram bus terminus to the park.

But these youths were not done yet. They then rode all the way to Marina beach, where all the action was taking place since the wee hours of Tuesday. I joined them too and we all reached Marina at around 9.30 pm on Tuesday.

The Marina beach stretch of Chennai, which initiated the protest State-wide a week back, had another protest that commenced Tuesday morning. Since the start of the protest, the numbers kept swelling till Wednesday. Due to the numbers, it became a mammoth task for the police to control the protesters and maintain traffic and law and order.

Not to worry - the protesters themselves volunteered to help the police personnel tackle the problems. During peak hour on Tuesday evening, the number of police personnel on the stretch was not enough to regulate the traffic. On seeing this, several youth from the protesting groups jumped on to the road and joined the police officials. 

It was not a big surprise for me as I already came across several sacks in which the protesters were collecting the garbage and empty food packets which showed the motive of the protesters to not to harm the environment. So, it would have been a surprise only if they had took care of the traffic. On the whole I should say that the protesters were so conscious that their protest should not affect the routine of Chennai.

Similarly, late in the evening, in the midst of their protest, due to some technical glitch, lights in the protesting arena went off for a while. None of the protesters let the situation became chaotic. All of a sudden, the lights on mobile phones of the protesters flashed out and the agitation continued. This was already spread across the social media highlighting on the level of safety for women and children in the crowd and I think I need not elaborate much on it.

As the protesters gathered there since the wee hours of the day, food and water were hard to come by. Initially, they found it difficult to face the minor crisis. But with more good hearted people joining the protest, there came several volunteers with parcels of food.

Among them, it was Sathish Kumar from Triplicane along with his friends who showed how they could mobilise food at short notice. In his load vehicle, he supplied free idlis to the protesters from morning at regular intervals.

When I interacted with him, Sathish told, “This is our 10th trip to Marina since morning. For every trip, we serve at least 2,000 idlis to the protesters.” The friends gang has been cooking idlis in a housing board in their area. They said they were also collecting idlis from houses that could afford to provide them. “Till now, we would have supplied at least 20,000 idlis and we will continue to do so. Our ultimate aim is to make this protest a successful one,” Sathish added.

I was almost emotionally struck on hearing this yet I managed not to show off outside. It should be surprise to neutralists for being an organiser-less, should be shock for politicians as it is not backed up by any political party and should be a factor of fear for the corporate as people have woke up from the deep sleep!!!

-Santhosh Mathevan
Chennai, January 18, 2017.

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