Chennai: The city police has earned the wrath and ridicule of several people on social media after detaining eight persons, including five women, for drawing ‘anti-CAA kolams’ on two roads in Besant Nagar.
The arrested also included two lawyers who had gone to the police station to represent the detained protesters. All eight were held at a nearby marriage hall and released after about 90 minutes following the huge outcry on social media. According to police and eyewitnesses, the protesters, led by Gayatri Khandhadai, had intended to draw kolams on Fourth Main Road in Besant Nagar in the morning. They drew their colourful rangoli which also included slogans like ‘No No to CAA’ and ‘No to NRC’.
The drawing of kolams and the scuffle with the cops attracted a large crowd and blocked traffic for a while. Failing in their attempt to dissuade the kolam-protesters from their campaign, the poli-ce, including several wo-men cops, physically rem-oved them into a waiting van and took them to a nearby marriage hall for detention. They were rele-ased later.
The detentions caused a flood of protests on social media, with scores of angry users asking the police if drawing kolams was a crime and if so, under which provision of the IPC/CrPC. “Case for filing Kolams? Under what section?” asked one.
Kolam campaign starts on Twitter
Another wanted to know if the cops saw the “unlawful assembly of rice flour” as a crime.
Yet another post on Twitter poked fun by dramatising the protest script in congratulating the cops for cracking the whip on “these criminal youngsters” and declaring, “We all know dangerous and lethal rangoli can be!”
He also declared it was now time to “start raiding community centres and marriage halls too — check for subversive kolam! And brides/grooms holding placards?!”
“You are scared of kolam? Really? Mighty state and central government?” tweeted Krupa Ge @krupage.
DMK president M.K. Stalin and MDMK leader Vaiko were among the political leaders who posted on social media and issued statements expressing protest against the police action on the kolam protesters. The former took to Twitter to complain that the ‘highhandedness’ of the ‘alangola’ (disorderly) AIADMK government is increasing every day. In detaining the protesters in Besant Nagar, the police had not allowed them to “express the fundamental rights granted to them by the Constitution”, he alleged.
His sister and DMK’s Lok Sabha member Kanimozhi tweeted that she had “only now learnt that cleaning up the front of the house and drawing kolam there are anti-national”.
She also ‘congratulated’ the AIADMK government for doing things to please its master (BJP regime). She got heavily trolled with many pointing out that her party has been rubbishing Hindu culture and tradition, such as the kolam at the doorstep; so why this sudden concern for it?
Another pointed out that drawing political kolams on roads and at bus stops was no cultural tradition!
The police action in Besant Nagar also had some stout defenders of the political class, predictably from the AIADMK and the BJP. State minister ‘Mafoi’ Pandiarajan said while drawing a kolam was no crime and not anti-national, the police action was prompted by the ‘content’ in those kolams — meaning the anti-CAA, NRC political slogans.
Former Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan alleged that the anti-CAA protests, such as the kolam campaign at Besant Nagar, were all part of a larger design to destabilise public order and ultimately create conflict between Hindus and Muslims.