A video aired on some local channels in Chennai shows a policeman setting fire to an auto-rickshaw, allegedly during today’s violence that marred what had been a lengthy and peaceful campaign supporting Jallikattu, the bull-taming sport. NDTV cannot verify the authenticity of the video, which is going viral.
NDTV’s Uma Sudhir showed the footage on her phone to senior police officer K Shankar, who said “Strict action will be taken against deviant elements.” However, another police officer TK Rajendran said, “Vidoes of police surfacing on social media are morphed, it’s a matter of investigation.”
The video was tweeted by actors Kamal Haasan, Arvind Swami and others.
What is this. Please explain some one pic.twitter.com/MMpFXHSOVk
– Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) January 23, 2017
Early this morning, thousands of protestors who were gathered at Chennai’s Marina Beach were ordered to vacate the area that students first moved into nearly a week ago, demanding that a ban on Jallikattu be reversed immediately. The police said that the students should allow the beach to return to normal, and enable preparations for Republic Day. Violence then broke out, with some students being hit with lathis or batons, and some policemen being targeted with stones and slippers. Hours later, police vans were set on fire. The cops said it was “outsiders” who had “infiltrated” the area to cause trouble, and that students were not to blame.
The vandalism and arson marred a mass-protest that won nationwide praise for eschewing politicians and violence.
Appeals by a cross-section of celebrities including actors Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth asked the students to end their demonstration and head home because their mission is accomplished – to allow Jallikattu, banned by the Supreme Court in 2014, Tamil Nadu today changed a law dealing with cruelty to animals to exempt the traditional harvest-time sport.
Students then said they were heading home, and that those still left on the beach confronting the cops with violence were not part of their movement.
At least 2,000 protestors are still sitting on the Marina Beach insisting that the police have tried to break their unity by announcing that the protest is over.