“Case for filing Kolams? Under what section? Unlawful assembly of rice flour?” “You are scared of kolam? Really? Mighty state and central government?” “Why this Kolam Veri Chennai police?" “Congratulations, Chennai police for arresting these criminal youngsters – we all know how dangerous and lethal rangoli can be! You must spare none. Time to start raiding community centres & marriage halls too - check for subversive kolam! And brides/grooms holding placards?!”
These are just some of the comments on social media platforms by people who are angry with the Chennai police for detaining people who drew kolams on the streets of Besant Nagar as a mark of dissent against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC), and the National Population Register (NPR). Five of the protestors were forcibly detained by the police and were taken to a wedding hall near the J5 police station at Shastri Nagar. Soon, two of their lawyers who had gone to the station, too, were detained.
Following widespread criticism of the Chennai City police on social media by people questioning their action of detaining peaceful protestors who chose to express dissent in a creative way, all seven of them were released. The protestors along with their lawyers were detained for about an hour and a half.
DMK Chief MK Stalin was among those who reacted against the action taken by the police. “The anarchy of the state is increasing day by day. In Besant Nagar, Chennai, the police has arrested six people who have protested their opposition to the CAA bill and did not even allow them to express the fundamental rights granted to them by the Constitution,” he wrote.
அலங்கோல அதிமுக அரசின் அராஜகம் நாளுக்கு நாள் அதிகரிக்கிறது.— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) December 29, 2019
சென்னை பெசண்ட் நகரில் #CAA வுக்கு கோலம் வரைந்து தங்கள் எதிர்ப்பை வெளிப்படுத்திய,
6 பேரை அரசியலமைப்புச் சட்டம் வழங்கிய அடிப்படை உரிமைகளைக்கூட அனுமதிக்காத இந்தத் தரங்கெட்ட எடப்பாடி அரசின் காவல்துறை கைது செய்துள்ளது. pic.twitter.com/Ran4FE5r2V
A lot of people took to social media to show their displeasure.
Congratulations @chennaipolice_ for arresting these criminal youngsters - we all know how dangerous and lethal #Rangoli can be!— Rakesh Sharma (@rakeshfilm) December 29, 2019
You must spare none. Time to start raiding community centres & marriage halls too - check for subversive #Kolam! And brides/grooms holding placards?! https://t.co/ELIyBRPk7S
You are scared of kolam? Really? Mighty state and central government?— Krupa Ge (@krupage) December 29, 2019
Case for filing Kolams? Under what section? Unlawful assembly of rice flour?— Saravana Raja (@saravana_raja) December 29, 2019
Speaking to TNM, Gayathri, one of those who was detained said, “Is it wrong to draw kolam? We’re only doing it outside homes and not on public roads. How can this be unlawful assembly? I have the right to express my dissent. We are not vandalsing anything. If they don’t like the kolam they can always remove it. Why should they detain us?”
The protest comes even as agitations are taking place across the country against CAA and NRC. While some are taking out street marches, others are reading out from the Constitution of India, and yet others are organising cultural events including music performances. Last Sunday, a small group of protestors had gathered in the Besant Nagar area to peacefully protest against CAA and NRC. This protest also saw cultural events like music performances and parai being played. Tamil indie band The Casteless Collective also put up a small performance on the road and people from the crowd spoke up to express their dissent.