What would have been a small but innovative protest in a street in Chennaiâ€™s Besant Nagar has now blown into a statewide phenomenon, thanks to the actions of Chennai police. On Sunday, police detained those who had drawn kolams or rangolis in front of houses and on the street, with slogans against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). This has prompted many people across Tamil Nadu including political leaders to join the protest by drawing similar kolams in front of their houses too.
Big kolams with anti-CAA and anti-NRC messages were drawn outside DMK leader and Lok Sabha MP Kanimozhiâ€™s house in CIT Colony on Sunday night. In fact, the wordings 'Venadam CAA NRC' (We don't want CAA NRC') with two kolam designs on the sides was painted in front of her house as rain would have otherwise washed away the rice or lime stone powder with which these designs are generally drawn.
In a few hours, similar kolams were drawn outside the house of MK Stalin in Cenotaph road and also late DMK Patriarch M Karunanidhi's house in Gopalapuram.
Kolam in front of Stalin's house
Late DMK leader M Karunanidhi's house
Another kolam in front of Kanimozhi's house
What the Chennai police did
On Sunday, the Chennai police detained five residents from Besant Nagar, who had put kolams in front of their houses, with slogans against the CAA and NRC. Two advocates, who went to the police station, were also detained by the police. While the citizens condemned the police action on the protesters stating that they had the right to dissent, the Assistant Commissioner of Police, who gave orders to detain the protesting citizens said that small group could have grown and become a law and order issue and hence it was imperative to prevent it.
The detention, however, sparked outrage across the state and by Sunday night many more people started drawing kolams against CAA and NRC. On Monday morning, â€˜DMK Kolam Protestâ€™ and â€˜Kolam against CAAâ€™ was trending on Twitter with hundreds of users talking about it and uploading pictures of their kolams on Twitter.
BJP supporters have meanwhile started a counter campaign and have been posting pictures of kolams with the message 'We want NRC-CAA' on it.