January 24, 2017
Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more)
The Big Story: Lack of credibility
After six days of peaceful protests across Tamil Nadu, the jallikattu movement, which sought to protect the traditional bull-taming sport from court-imposed bans, turned violent on Monday. Scores were injured in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu in a police crackdown that started at dawn, ostensibly to clear the Marina Beach of protesters before the Republic Day celebrations on January 26.
The state government’s handling of the agitation first exposed its befuddlement about possible solutions and then its eagerness to harness the mass movement for narrow political gains.
At no stage of the protest over the last week was the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government in control. This had a lot to do with the leadership rivalry within the party between Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and general secretary VK Sasikala. With his own ministers asking him to step down and make way for Sasikala, the chief minister’s decision-making authority has been severely hampered.
The government began on a weak footing when, on the very first day of the protests on Tuesday, it promised an ordinance to allow jallikattu. Though active lobbying with the Union government helped push through the ordinance at record-breaking speed, the lack of proper communication meant the protesters were fed falsehoods by vested interests whose objectives went well beyond jallikattu. Posters espousing secessionist ideas began cropping up at Marina Beach. This confusion was actively aided by the state government’s reluctance to release the text of the ordinance, fearing a legal challenge from animal rights activists.
With just three days to go for Republic Day, the government had to clear the Marina Beach to ensure the smooth conduct of the parade. The police brutality unleashed in Chennai and several other pockets of Tamil Nadu was inevitable, given the people’s complete lack of trust in the government. Videos emerged on Monday evening showing policemen rampaging through the streets of Chennai, burning and damaging vehicles and public property. Though the police have blamed “anti-social elements” for the clashes, this has raised doubts about whether the violence was a calculated move to discredit the protests to influence public perception.
If the state government is serious about reclaiming its credibility, a proper investigation into the police excesses on Monday is essential. The government should also put out information on who exactly instigated the violence on Monday and took the protests beyond the demand of jallikattu.
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The Big Scroll
Vinita Govindarajan reports on how fishing hamlets along the Marina beach became causalities of police crackdown against jallikattu protests.
How Tamil nationalist groups tried to influence the jallikattu protests.
In the Indian Express, Nirupama Subramaniam writes on how the jallikattu protests undermined legal due process.
Pulapre Balakrishnan in The Hindu arguesthat a universal basic income may not be the right policy for India.
Congress leader Abishek Singhvi says in the Hindustan Times that the demonetisation has decimated the credibility and autonomy of the Reserve Bank of India.
Vote! #jallikattu @mail_today cartoon pic.twitter.com/RwHw5MhRe1
— Satish Acharya (@satishacharya) January 23, 2017
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own.