Started with a song, now it takes over Tamil Nadu

In late June 2016, a music video was released that, 6 months on, would prove to be the anthem of the entire youth population of a state. Hiphop Tamizha, a Tamil music group, released the Takkaru Takkaru song, which tells its own version of the Jallikattu story. Ithu maata pathina prechana ila, un naata pathina prechana da” (This is not an issue of bulls but your nation), is the lyrics of this wildly popular song. Half a year later, this song has become the unofficial anthem of the protest.

One of the reasons this protest was appreciated was the manner in which the protest was conducted in a peaceful manner, until the last day at least. Much of it was due to the founders of this movement and their backgrounds, who wanted justice for all the farmers and who they believed were hit hard because of this ban. It all began with a modest protest on Marina beach with 15 participants in 2013 that has now become a mass movement in Tamil Nadu. These people roped in youths, cutting across caste, class and region barriers, and encourage them to join the mass agitation.

Himakiran Alagula is a professional from Chennai with rural roots and is an owner of a bull. In 2013, he got interested in Jallikattu and got in touch with Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Federation president P Rajasekharan, who has been fighting for the sport for over 10 years. Alagula also teamed up with Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, who heads the Senaapathy Kangeyam Cattle Research Foundation near Tirupur. Slowly others began to join the fight.  Another professional and businessman from Coimbatore, Balakumar Somu, too, joined the team that prepared the blueprint for the battle.

These are not the only people behind the protests though. Social media has been utilized to its fullest during these protests. Popular Facebook pages like Chennai Memes helped increase interest in the protests. These pages have a great deal of popularity among the Tamil youth and it was used to influence people to protest against the ban. Celebrities like Raghava Lawrence, who has been with the protestors since the first day of the protests and despite nursing an injury, has promised further support, and RJ Balaji, who has spoken out publicly in support of the movement in various forums and videos which have gone viral, and numerous others have also lent support.

This protest was a state wide phenomenon. The first 50 protesters reached the Marina Beach here on Tuesday morning, at around 8 am. By midnight, the crowd had swelled to about 6,000. Students, software professionals, playback singers, filmmakers, bank employees — all gathered to protest against the ban on Jallikattu, the traditional bull-taming sport.

The arrest of 200-odd protesters in Alaganallur, a village near Madurai which is famous for Jallikattu acted as the catalyst. The mass movement spread across Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, with an estimated four lakh people gathering in at least 100 locations spread across Coimbatore, Trichy, Salem and Madurai.

As the protest stretched on, with about 15,000 people gathering at the Marina Beach, top politicians were kept away — DMK leader M K Stalin and Tamil nationalist leader Seeman were among those who were asked to leave. Instead, 10 representatives were selected from among the protesters to hold talks with the state government. This is a huge thing, as it is nearly impossible to inspire an entire state to come out on to the streets without a major public face, especially Tamil Nadu, which has a history of idolizing its popular public personalities. DMK leader M K Stalin and Tamil nationalist leader Seeman were among those who were asked to leave when they tried to side with the protestors.

Even something which was commendable as this had its fair share of problems, especially on the final day. Apart from a few stray incidents, and the DMK’s Rail Roko protest (for which they anyway got pilloried!), protestors were praised for keeping things quiet. On Monday, the day the ordinance was being passed, police had a few issues with the crowd. It soon sparked a problem, as policemen were seen forcibly removing protestors from the area. This sparked off more protests in other parts of Chennai and in Tamil Nadu. Certain anti social elements had clearly mingled among the crowd and were now attempting to dilute the issue. This must be avoided at all costs. The police forces, which had been perfectly normal until then and were even praising the crowd to an extent, were now forcing it to disperse.

The Jallikattu ban issue is not just about a sport being banned. It’s not even about Tamil culture taking a backseat. It is the frustrations of an entire state finding its way out. Tamils have, in their eyes, been adversely affected by a number of decisions taken in Delhi. The Cauvery water conflict with Karnataka is one such thing. All of this anger, intermingled with the nationalistic rhetoric going on in the world, has led to this movement. The actions of a minority of the Tamils (the ones who demand for Republic Day being a black day, and shouting other anti-India slogans) should not affect the peaceful, sensible demands of the majority. The people have done what they can; doing more would be damaging and diluting the issue. At the same time, the people have done what they can; it is the turn of the netas to do what they should. Read more Business News.

Started with a song, now it takes over Tamil Nadu
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