Though the rest of Chennai had largely come back to normal, angry voices filled the streets of Nadukuppam on Monday evening. Hundreds of people, mostly fisherfolk, were standing on the roads, staring at the charred remains of their fish market.
Residents alleged that police went from door-to-door looking for jallikattu protesters and in the arguments that ensued, the fish market was burnt down by the police.
Rajamani, a 55-year-old woman who sells fish for a living, claimed that the police action started in the morning. â€śAround 9am, college students who were protesting at Marina came running towards our village. Police came behind them and started harassing us. They also broke the doors of many houses and were abusing us. They beat our husbands and sons. Some vehicles were burnt down too,â€ť she said.
More than 600 shops were burnt in the village, alleged Nagavalli, another fish seller. â€śPolice burnt down the fish market completely. We were witnesses to it. I have lost more than Rs 50,000; all the fishes kept in my shop were expensive ones. What will we do for our livelihood?,â€ť she asked.
Some of the residents said that the problem between the police and the residents of the hamlet increased after the police refused them permission to go to the sea for fishing.
The residents also alleged that police forcefully entered their houses a second time around 3pm. Vani (27), a housewife, said, â€śAround 10 policemen entered my house, dragged out my husband and beat him up. They also broke the door of our house. Who gave them the authority to do all this?â€ť she asked.
â€śThey used their lathis. A few children who were on the street got scared and ran towards our houses. We questioned the police and they started hitting us also,â€ť said Desiya, a resident of Nadukuppam.
â€śWe make a living out of selling fishes. We do not know any other occupation. And now the police blame us for burning the market, they say we are the ones who did it. Why will we burn our livelihood?â€ť asked another resident.