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DMK, allies take out rally against CAA in Chennai

PTI Chennai | Updated on December 23, 2019 Published on December 23, 2019

DMK President MK Stalin, Kanimozhi, Congress' P Chidambaram, MDMK chief Vaiko and other leaders protest against the Centre's Citizenship Amendment Act in Chennai, on December 23, 2019.   -  Bijoy Ghosh

A drone being used to monitor the DMK’s rally against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Chennai, on December 23, 2019.   -  Bijoy Ghosh

In a show of strength, the DMK and its allies took out a huge protest rally in Chennai against the amendment to the Citizenship Act and warned of intensifying the agitation by mobilising apolitical sections of society till the Centre withdrew the ‘draconian’ law.

DMK president MK Stalin led the peaceful rally and leaders of alliance parties, including senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, walked alongside him holding placards against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act.

Opposing CAA

Cadres of DMK and other allies, holding party flags, banners and placards, marched on as the procession, taken out amid tight security and deployment of drones for monitoring, wounded its way from downtown Egmore to Rajarathinam stadium, a distance of about 2.5 km. “Take back CAA, Don’t stoke communal passions,” were among the slogans raised by them against the Centre.

The ruling AIADMK, which supported the law, also came in for sharp criticism from the protesters. On culmination of the rally, Stalin in a brief address said the protest was not a march of party workers but a battalion determined to fight against the CAA. “I bow to the Tamil people for taking part in the rally and expressing your sentiments (against the CAA),” he said.

The DMK chief, flanked by Chidambaram and other leaders on the dais, said the opposition to CAA will not stop with today’s agitation. The protests will be taken forward after consulting allies and by mobilising apolitical sections of the society till such time the Centre withdrew the “draconian,” legislation, he said.

Stalin, whose party had days ago held state-wide protest against the CAA, said a “massive demonstration” will be held if the Centre did not budge from its stand. The DMK has been maintaining that the law was anti-Muslim and Sri Lankan Tamils.

Alleging that the ruling AIADMK tried to thwart the rally “by approaching the court,” he said the court, however, negated it and ruled there was no bar on holding the agitation. “Thanks to the ruling party, it has stood behind us by publicising the rally,” he said sarcastically, hitting out at the AIADMK.

Before Stalin’s speech, the leaders jointly raised slogans against the CAA and the Centre.

A success, says Vaiko

MDMK leader Vaiko told reporters the rally was “a success” which will make the Centre realise it has stirred a hornet’s nest by amending the Citizenship Act.

Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president KS Alagiri claimed the entire nation was “awed” by the rally which highlighted ‘flaws’ of BJP-led Centre vis-a-vis the Citizenship amendment. “It is our duty to take forward another freedom struggle and we have done that duty,” Alagiri said.

State Secretaries of CPI(M) and CPI K Balakrishnan and R Mutharasan, IUML leader K M Kader Mohideen, VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi M H Jawahirullah were among the leaders of alliance parties of the DMK who participated in the agitation.

DMK MP Kanimozhi and Stalin’s son and DMK Youth Wing chief Udhayanidhi were among the prominent participants.

About 5,000 personnel were deployed on security duty, police said.

The DMK had christened the protest a “maaperum perani” (massive rally) and asked its cadres and those of alliance parties to participate in huge numbers.

A last minute attempt by two PIL petitioners to stop the rally failed after the Madras High Court late Sunday night said peaceful demonstration cannot be prevented in a democratic country, but directed the police to videograph the event.

It gave the interim direction on the PILs after the Tamil Nadu government informed that police denied permission for the rally as there was no firm commitment from the organisers on owning responsibility in case of any violence and damage to property.

Urgent hearing in Madras HC

It gave the interim direction on PILs opposing the rally, after the Tamil Nadu government counsel informed that police have denied permission for the protest as there was no firm commitment from the organisers on owning responsibility in case of any violence and damage to property.

A bench of Justices S Vaidyanathan and PT Asha declined to stop the rally, saying that a peaceful demonstration cannot be prevented in a democratic country as it was the backbone of the democratic set-up.

Petitioners R Varaaki and R Krishnamoorthy sought to restrain the DMK from organising the protest rally, contending that such “unlawful” demonstrations would affect the life of public and can turn violent and cause unrest as in similar rallies in various other places, including Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

DMK’s evasive reply

When the matter was taken up for urgent hearing, the government pleader submitted the DMK had given only evasive replies to queries regarding the number of people taking part in the rally and the name of the person, who is going to take the responsibility in case of any untoward incident and destruction of public property.

The court noted that a peaceful demonstration cannot be prevented in a democratic country as it was the backbone of the democratic set up. “From the reply given by the respondents, it could be seen that the political party, which is scheduled to conduct the rally/procession/ protest, is reluctant to take on responsibility. However, according to us, the queries raised by the Police are indeed very relevant,” it said.

The evasive manner in which a responsible political party has answered the queries gives rise to a doubt in the mind of the court that the leaders, who are spearheading the agitation, are reluctant to take responsibility in the event of any damage to the public property or any incident.

The bench then directed the police to videograph the protest and also use drone cameras, if necessary, so that the liability can be fixed on the leaders of the political parties sponsoring the rally in case of unlawful incidents.

It posted the matter to December 30 for further hearing.

Published on December 23, 2019
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