This week, Tamil Nadu witnessed a continuation of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). In Chennai, the state police brutally attacking anti-CAA protesters in Washermanpet leading to widespread protests throughout Friday night. While in Kanyakumari, anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters held a 58km long human chain in Kanyakumari demanding the withdrawal of CAA and repeal of National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).
Meanwhile, in a repeat of events, Hindu Munnani cadres reportedly ransacked shops and damaged windshields of transport buses in retaliation of the alleged burning of a vehicle owned by a local leader. The Puducherry Assembly passed a resolution against the CAA and strongly condemned the divisive policies pursued by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre. NewsClick brings a round up of the major happenings in the state this week.
POLICE BRUTALITY ON ANTI CAA PROTESTERS
The peaceful protests led by organisations including Muslim Jamaats in Washermanpet near Chennai, opposing the CAA, NRC and NRC, being termed as the Shaheen Bagh of Chennai saw severe state repression on Friday night. The state government has been highly apathetic towards the sustained protests and have tried to dilute it by various means. On Friday night, several hundred policemen unleashed a brutal attack against the protesters, as several men were beaten up by the police without any provocation. Neither did the police alert the protesters to leave the protest site. Several women also complained about the police excesses on them.
Also read: Opposition Parties Condemn TN Police Action Against Anti-CAA Protesters
The protesters have alleged that a 70-year-old man died of shock when the police resorted to manhandling. They also claimed that another man was grievously injured. As reports of the police brutality spread, many people including Muslim organisations hit the roads across the state in many places leading to traffic blocks in national highways for several hours. The state government, which on one hand continues to make promises of protecting the interests of the minorities, has continued its assault on them on the other hand, charging them with cases and beating them up.
ANTI-CAA HUMAN CHAIN IN KANYAKUMARI
The Kumari Peoples Unity Forum (KPUF) affiliated to the Tamil Nadu Platform for Peoples’ Unity (TNPPU) held a 58 km long human chain in Kanyakumari opposing the CAA, NRC and NPR on February 12. The participants demanded the withdrawal of CAA and insisted the state government to pass a resolution against the moves of the union government. The human chain was attended by more than half a lakh people cutting across political and religious beliefs. The district, which has nearly 51% minority population, is highly apprehensive of the outcomes of these laws and registers.
Also read: Human Chain in Kanyakumari to Oppose CAA, NRC and NPR
Members of various political parties, youths, students, Christian and Muslim organisations participated in the human chain. The office bearers of the KPUF claimed that the human chain was joined by large numbers of people of Hindu beliefs making it a huge success. The human chain extended from the southernmost tip of the mainland, Kanyakumari to the town bordering Kerala, Kaliyakkavilai.
SHOPS, VEHICLES ATTACKED BY HINDU MUNNANI MEMBERS IN TIRUPPUR
Meanwhile, on the same day, members of the right wing outfit, Hindu Munnani went on a rampage in Tiruppur town against a reported attack on the vehicle owned by a local leader by around 3 AM. The members, riding two-wheelers, attacked and damaged shops in the textile town. Many windshields of state-run transport buses were also destroyed by the miscreants. The first group of party members on two-wheelers were reportedly throwing stones towards the shops while another group followed and directed the shop owners to down the shutters.
Eye witnesses claimed that even though the vehicle burning incident reportedly took place early in the morning, the police arrived at the scene by as late as 11 in the morning. The attackers, however, had left by then, after causing severe damage. The Hindu Munnani and few other fringe right-wing groups have been launching such attacks time to time, with the Tamil Nadu Police acting as mute spectators in all such incidents.
PUDUCHERRY ASSEMBLY PASSES ANTI-CAA RESOLUTION
Joining the states led by opposition parties, the Congress government in Puducherry Union territory passed a resolution against the CAA. The UT went an extra mile by passing another resolution condemning the divisive policies pursued by the union government led by the BJP. The Opposition, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and three nominated members of the BJP boycotted the proceedings.
The resolution termed the CAA as discriminatory and demanded its immediate withdrawal. Meanwhile, the tussle between the chief minister and the lieutenant governor (LG) escalated with the former accusing the LG of acting against the oath of secrecy. The CM accused the LG of publicising a letter sent to her about Assembly proceedings.
Through another resolution, the government has made the Karaikal district as a Protected Special Agricultural Zone following the government of Tamil Nadu. The Puducherry government has been opposing the hydrocarbon exploration project more vigorously than their Tamil Nadu counterpart.
TRANSPORT WORKERS DEMAND WAGE REVISION
The workers affiliated to multiple trade unions held a massive protest in Chennai demanding wage revision. The 13th wage agreement valid for three years of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Workers (TNSTC) expired in August 2019 and the state government has not initiated talks on the next agreement so far. The coordination committee of the trade unions have decided to start an indefinite sit-in protest in the TNSTC headquarters from March 10 if the government fails to begin talks within the stipulated time.
Also read: Tamil Nadu: State Transport Workers Protest for Wage-Revision
The workers also demanded the strengthening of the public transport system as a measure to prevent global warming. The government is also withholding the revision of the dearness allowance for the workers for the past 14 months at a time of increasing inflation rates.
CONSULTATION ON ‘SAVE PUBLIC SECTOR’
The leaders and members of more than 35 public sector employees and workers unions conducted a national consultation on the 'Save Public Sector' mission. The organisers accused the BJP-led union government of destroying the public sector undertakings (PSU), a lifeline of Indian economy. It was alleged that the Modi 2.0 regime has accelerated the sale of shares from several profit making PSUs, with the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) being the latest victim as announced by the finance minister in the Budget.
The other trade union leaders also accused the union government of continuously favouring the corporates instead of strengthening the PSUs including the banks. Former civil servants M G Devasahayam, Sashikanth Senthil and former general secretary of All India Bank Officers Confederation Thomas Franco took part in the meeting.