The Tamil month of Maarkazhi is celebrated with much fervour in the state of Tamil Nadu. Temples are opened at as early as 4 am for special poojas (worship) all through the month. Bhajans (devotional hymns), rangolis (floor decoration) and music festivals light up the city during this Tamil month, which extends from mid-December to January. Many women draw rangolis, small and large, as a mark of festivity. This year, Kolam [generally known as rangoli] has become means of protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).
On December 29, eight persons including five women were detained by the Chennai Police for drawing anti-CAA kolams [rangolis] near the Besant Nagar bus terminus. As per reports, the detained were released after cases were registered against them. This mode of protest, nonetheless, has gathered steam, with even a few temple administrations drawing anti-CAA rangolis near the temple entries.
BJP ACCUSES SFI OF INITIATING RANGOLI PROTEST
Various organisations including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Democratic Youth Organisation of India (DYFI), and All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) have called upon their members to carry forward the protest. The Students’ Federation of India (SFI), on its 50th founding day (December 30), also joined the rangoli protest. In addition to hoisting of flags on the founding day, the SFI members drew rangolis opposing the CAA. Even though the SFI itself had not given the call for the protest in Besant Nagar, it irked the leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A state BJP leader, in a tweet, alleged that the SFI is behind the protests.
Mariappan, state secretary of SFI said, “The SFI has been continuously protesting against the CAA, which aims at awarding citizenship with religion as the basic criteria. This is a gross violation of Indian Constitution. We are protesting using different forms; rangoli protest is one such medium. We are not worried about the accusation of the BJP. We will proudly take the protest forward and on January 3, the SFI members will take oath in all district headquarters to protect the Constitution of India, which is under threat during the BJP regime.”
HOUSES OF POLITICAL PARTY LEADERS SPORT ANTI-CAA RANGOLIS
The state has witnessed continued protests against the CAA with students’, youths’ and women’s organisations, along with Muslim organisations, holding different forms of protests. The state government, which had supported the bill in Parliament, continues to suppress the protests using police force. The house of freedom fighter and veteran Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader N Sankariah too sported an anti-CAA rangoli on Monday. The houses of DMK leaders including M K Stalin and Lok Sabha MP Kanimozhi too followed the suit.
Thol Thirumavalavan, a leader of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and Member of Parliament himself took the task of drawing a rangoli in front of their party office today morning. The members of Congress party also joined the protest today.
PROTEST RALLIES CONTINUE
The protest rallies and mass gatherings are continuing in different parts of the state. Madurai, Coimbatore, Tiruvannamalai, Alandur near Chennai saw massive gathering against the CAA from various civil society and Muslim organisations on Tuesday. The state police continue to deny permission for all forms protest activities including cultural gatherings—citing New Year's Eve as a reason in many parts of the state. The joint platform of several writers and artists’ organisation was denied permission to conduct a programme in Coimbatore.
The general secretary of Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association, Aadhavan Dheetchanya, told while speaking to NewsClick said, “When the government comes up with amendments violating the Constitution, it becomes the duty of the citizens to register their protest. If the government uses police to suppress the peaceful protests, how can we call ourselves a democratic country? The High Court has instructed the government to permit peaceful protests, but the government proceeds to do otherwise, curbing our right to dissent.”