Published: 29th December 2019
Why this kolam protest against CAA 'draws' police ire, detention in Chennai
Three lawyers who had rushed to their defence were arrested too; the group is considering legal action against the police
At a time when people across the country are indulging in creative and peaceful ways of protesting against the NPR, NRC and CAA (such as giving roses to policemen as a peace offering, printing wedding cards with ‘Reject CAA’ and ‘Boycott NRC’ written on them and the like) to make sure no law is broken, a ‘kolam protest’ in Chennai’s Besant Nagar area turned problematic after police detained the protestors who claim to have been ‘peacefully expressing their dissent’.
“Around ten of us, mainly working professionals and students, gathered at Besant Nagar to draw kolams (rangoli) along the roads and in front of houses to register our political protest against the CAA. We weren’t carrying any flags or placards. We did not raise any slogans. We just thought that it is the Margazhi season and protesting like this would do justice to it,” says Gayatri Khandhadai, a lawyer and activist, who had called for this unique protest on Twitter a day earlier where she asked people to decorate their houses and streets with kolams opposing CAA and NRC and share the photo on social media.
Gayatri claims that when the group started drawing kolams, the police rounded them up and took five of the members to a community hall opposite the J5 Police Station. “What is more shocking is that three lawyers had come to help us and the police detained them too! We were detained for two hours and were let go off after that. We tried reasoning with the police officers saying that it was just a form of protest, but they told us clealy that they will not tolerate the word CAA on the kolams,” she says, adding, “He (one of the police officers) literally said, ‘This is irritating me, I will not allow this.’
According to her, it is shocking that the Tamil Nadu Police, who she believes has been treating protestors better than their Delhi and UP counterparts, would give in to political pressure and shut down any form of dissent. “They ask us to take permission to protest, but decline it right away or give permission to protest in one corner of some obscure place. How will we protest then? How will we exercise our rights as Indian citizens then? This is so inappropriate that we have no avenue to show dissent,” she points out.
The lawyers involved are planning to take legal action against the unlawful detention as they call them. Other lawyers’ groups are also planning a protest against the incident.