The unprecedented protests in favour of jallikattu in Tamil Nadu have seen people from across social classes participating in the movement.
There have also been instances of members from the police force taking part in the protests even as they'd been stationed at the site on duty. Images of policemen distributing food and water to the protesters have also been doing the rounds on social media.
An electrifying speech given by a policeman during the protests at Marina beach in Chennai shows how deeply emotional the issue is to the people of Tamil Nadu.
If we let the bull that has been with us for thousands of years to die, how can we say we're Tamilians? There are babies in this world who have not had mother's milk, but are there any babies in this world who have not had cow's milk? They keep saying farmer-farmer...this is an issue that's important to the farmers. Is a government who doesn't understand, is this a government at all? What is natural farming? The farmer puts water, cowdung and prepares the land. But now how do they do farming? The soil has been killed by using artificial chemicals. Next, they're going to kill the cows by stopping jallikattu.
We're going to the next state and begging for water. The farmer is dying of debt because he doesn't have water for cultivation. What answer are you going to give for all this? There are many police personnel like me in this crowd. People wearing uniforms who have the desire to speak about this like I have. There are many cops who didn't go home last night and sleep but have worn civil dress and have remained in this crowd. I have come on their behalf also. I agree that the police has so far never participated in such protests. But I've participated now because I understand the seriousness of this issue and want action to be taken."
The Times of India reports that Mathiazhagan is from Ramanathapuram and that when senior police officials heard about his speech, they rushed towards him and asked him to get back to duty. They have, however, assured the protesters that no action will be taken against him.
Another policeman in Pudhukottai who participated in the protests was interviewed by Puthiya Thalaimurai channel. He said:
"There is nobody instigating me to be part of this protest. It is my Tamil identity. It is the Tamil I studied which brought me here. It is the Tamil in my blood. The people fighting here, not caring about hunger, are fighting for their rights. I'm also a Tamilian. Why should I stay away? When my people are going hungry, why should I stay away? I should also participate.
I'm an educated youth. I work for the police force. The central government and PM Modi have to definitely permit jallikattu for the people. This is about our Tamil identity. According to Article 29(1) of our laws, no government can deny a people their cultural traditions. The PM has to do it. We have to save our bull, we have to save our Tamil identity. My blood is boiling for this."
The police has been appreciative of the crowd's peaceful and cooperative behaviour.
RJ Balaji's speech at the Marina, crediting the protesters for getting the government to pass the emergency ordinance was greeted with wild cheers. "It's not the 39 MPs we elected who have done this, it is you!" he said. He also said that revolution had happened in Egypt but that this was the first time such a thing was happening in India after the Independence movement.
Watch his emotionally charged speech here: