Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami justified the police action against anti-CAA protesters in Chennai on Saturday, saying that they had indulged in violence and damaged public property. The police department in the state was slammed for beating up protesters who had gathered to dissent against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act in Chennai’s Old Washermenpet area. On Saturday, soon after visuals of the police action went viral, hundreds of people from Muslim groups across the city and the state launched protests condemning the police.
Speaking in the state Assembly on Monday, CM Palaniswami said that the protesters had resisted arrest after the police told them that they had assembled unlawfully. Those who were detained by the police in government vans damaged the windshield, he alleged. The DMK staged a ‘symbolic walkout’ based on this reply. The Speaker refused permission to discuss the anti-CAA resolution moved by DMK chief MK Stalin.
“Around 6 pm, men and Muslim women had gathered at the Kannan roundabout in large numbers and raised slogans. They acted in hindrance to the people and traffic. Police, including senior officials, requested them to leave. They continued to protest, despite multiple advisories by the police. The protesters indulged in violence by throwing water bottles, stones and footwear at the police,” said the Chief Minister.
The Chief Minister also alleged that there were a ‘few instigators’ among the protesters.
He said, “Protesters from outside instigated the people in the area, pushed the barricades, came out and violently pushed the police officials who were calmly standing there. They attempted to stage a road roko. When the police attempted to arrest them, they threw stones, bottles and footwear.”
Further, Palaniswami pointed out that the death of a 70-year-old man, a short distance away from the site of the protests, had been wrongly portrayed as a killing by police violence.
The city police Commissioner held talks with Muslim leaders including representatives from the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), India Thowheed Jamat (INTJ), Popular Front of India (PFI), National Thowheed Jamath and the Indian National League.
“After they came to an agreement that the protesters would disperse, 82 people who had been arrested were released. But the protesters did not disperse and protested through the night. All through Sunday too, men and women from Muslim groups took part in the agitation. Various political party leaders have participated and supported them,” said Chief Minister Palaniswami.
On Sunday too, the Chennai city police Commissioner said that the police would co-operate and requested the protesters not to cause a law and order situation or any hindrance to the people.
The Chief Minister said police officials including AC Vijayakumari, inspector Rajkumar, inspectors Selvi and Udhayakumari were injured in the violence, while adding that arrangements have been made to ensure that no untoward incident takes place in the area.
He added, “Amma's government will not allow any action that goes against the interest of the minorities.”