On Wednesday, December 4, hundreds of women from various parts of Tamil Nadu who were heading towards the secretariat in Chennai demanding the rights of women have been detained by the police. Since November 25, the women protesters under the banner of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) have been marching across the villages and towns in Tamil Nadu to protest against the escalating violence against women, discrimination prevalent in many sectors, and create awareness about the ill effects of liquor and drugs, especially on youth and children.
On December 3, the marching women reached Tambaram, an area in the neighbourhood of Chennai and camped there at night. On the next day, the 10th day since the commencement of march, the protesters started marching towards the secretariat to make their voice heard in front of the government. Soon after the women started marching, they were blocked by the state police and later they were detained and have been kept in a marriage hall as of now.
“We tried to march towards the bus stand, but the authorities said that there is no permission to proceed. Actually, the assistant commissioner had given us the permission to march till Tambaram bus stand. In fact, they even approved the route through which we have to march to the bus stand. We were told that if we try to proceed after the bus stand, we will be arrested. But, when we came out of the wedding hall where we had stayed the night before, the huge police force which had been deployed there started arresting us saying that the permission to march even to the bus stand has been cancelled,” U Vasuki, one of the leaders of AIDWA, told NewsClick.
When the police tried arresting the marching women, they resisted and some continued marching and “reached DSP road and started picketing.” “Right now, around 200 women are under police detention,” Vasuki added.
While addressing the protesters on Wednesday morning soon after they were blocked by the police, K Balabharathi, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and former MLA, said, “The chief minister, who is not willing to meet the marching women, is using the police force to unleash attack on the peaceful protesters. But, the government has not arrested the man who had built the caste wall in Mettuppalayam that led to the killing of 17 people on Monday morning.”
The 400km long padayatra, which commenced on November 25, was split into two groups- one group started marching from Thiruvannamalai and other one from Vadalur in Cuddalore district- and started marching towards secretariat. The 400 km-long-march was led by S Valentina and Sugandhi of AIDWA, along with others.
The marching women have covered a number of regions including Vellore, Kancheepuram and Puducherry before reaching Tambaram. Throughout the march, the marching teams were joined by many women and public, who continued to accompany the marching women till the borders of their villages. The protesters also organised small meetings at a distance of every 10-20 km, which saw huge participation of villagers, to convey their messages.