As protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, continued across Tamil Nadu this week, Tamil orator Nellai Kannan has been sent to judicial custody for 12 days for alleged derogatory comments on the prime minister and the home minister for the implementation of CAA. Meanwhile, several thousand residents of Gandhi Nagar in Central Chennai region are being evacuated citing encroachment in river banks but the corporate hotels enjoy government’s patronage. The sanitary workers of Greater Chennai corporation held a protest demanding payment of wages on time every month. In a major political boost, the opposition alliance led by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam won a decisive mandate in the rural local body elections. NewsClick presents a round up of this week’s happenings across Tamil Nadu.
RANGOLI PROTESTS CONTINUE
The protests against CAA continue in the state with various political parties, student organisations, civil society and Muslim organisations joining the protests. Drawing kolams (Rangoli or floor decorations), a tradition in the Tamil month of Maarkazhi became the latest form of protest. The first protest in Besant Nagar in Chennai spread across the state after the protesters were detained by the police. The Police Commissioner, Chennai, went on to accuse a protestor of having ‘links’ with Pakistan and released the details of her Facebook profile, compromising her security. The claim was criticised by People’s Watch as the protester had only submitted a thesis on the status of minorities to Bytes for All, an organisation associated with Association of All Pakistan Citizen Journalists.
Also read: Dissent Through Rangoli: From Celebration to Protest in Tamil Nadu
The Puducherry government also held a massive protest against CAA this week with huge participation. The Chief Minister has denied the implementation of any such act in the state. The Save Constitution movement also held a huge protest in Chepauk demanding the withdrawal of the Act which they termed as anti-constitutional.
MASS EVICTION IN CHENNAI
Several houses reportedly built in the river banks in Gandhi Nagar of Central Chennai region were demolished on December 29. The police brutally assaulted people who protested the evacuation drive as they have been living in the place for around 50 years. Isaiyarasu Ambedkar, a social activist and Asaithambi, a Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] activist were brutally attacked by the police and were detained. The residents, including large numbers of women, were also injured in the police action. The location was highly unaffected during the 2015 Chennai floods. The partial evacuation drive aimed at removing the socially and economically backward continues while several private hotels on river banks enjoy the privileges of the government.
AIADMK SUFFERS SETBACK IN LOCAL BODY ELECTIONS
The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) suffered a major setback in the rural local body elections held after a delay of three years. The opposition alliance led by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) won higher number of district council and taluk council wards. The DMK and allies won around 42% of union council and 40% of the district council seats. The AIADMK managed 33% and 31% seats in the councils, respectively. The breakaway faction of AIADMK, the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam won around 100 union council seats, affecting the prospects of AIADMK in many other seats.
Also read: DMK, Allies Gain Upper Hand in TN Rural Local Body Elections
The local body elections have largely favoured the ruling party, but the AIADMK suffered a major setback this time. The DMK claimed the alliance has won a decisive mandate against the ruling party, which had used the state machinery in its favour. The actor Kamal Hasan led Makkal Needhi Maiam decided against contesting the elections while the tamil nationalist party, Naam Tamilar Katchi made little progress in the elections.
SANITARY WORKERS DEMAND WAGES ON TIME
The sanitary workers of Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC), led by the Senkodi Sangam (Redflag Union) held a massive protest in front of the Tiruvottiyur regional office of GCC. The workers most of them being employed on a contract basis, demanded their wages to be paid before the 5th of every month. They also demanded the immediate disbursal of other monetary benefits which are pending for a long period of time.
TAMIL ORATOR ARRESTED FOR DEROGATORY COMMENTS
Nellai Kannan, a well known Tamil orator and Gandhian practitioner was sent to judicial custody till Januarly 13 for 12 days. He had allegedly made remarks against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in a meeting held in protest against CAA in Tirunelveli. The meeting was organised by the Social Democratic Party of India and the complaint was lodged by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
However, BJP leaders had held a protest in Marina Beach violating the Madras High Court order banning protests in the beach, for which no action has been taken yet. The BJP national secretary H Raja had also allegedly threatened college students of dire consequences for the anti-CAA protests. He was quoted as saying, “If stones are thrown from the college campuses, bombs will be thrown inside.” Former union minister, P Radhakrishnan, in a press meet said, “The families of those who draw kolams (Rangolis) (as per the advice of DMK leader M K Stalin) will be finished.” However no action has been taken against these leaders for such threatening comments.
Also read: Massive Rally in Chennai Against CAA