On Republic Day, rallies held by farmers across the country were met with various forms of state violence. While in Delhi, protesters were lathi-charged and tear-gassed, other states also saw police violence and crackdown on protests. Tamil Nadu also saw various rallies carried out by farmers, workers, labour and farm unions. Opposition parties such as DMK, VCK and Left parties were part of many of these rallies, and have been vocal against the three agri-laws, with strong criticisms against the AIADMK Government for voting in favour of these laws.
A rally in Virudhunagar in Tamil Nadu
Heavy police presence could be seen in almost all districts, and while most of them had no incidents of violence, few rallies saw scuffles between police and protesters, specifically in the delta districts. In Thanjavur the protests were heavily barricaded, and as a result farmers removed the barricades and ropes to move forward with the protest. In Nagapattinam people rallied in large numbers.
Peaceful Rally in Tanjavru, Tamil Nadu
According to state coordinator of All India Kisan Sangharsh, K. Balakrishnan, a confrontation arose between protesters and police, as tractors were not allowed to proceed; the police were even threatening with arrests. Many carried on the protest on foot. In Cuddalore, tractors weren’t even allowed to enter into the city area. Many attempts to stop protests, before the rally can also be seen. For one, warnings by police against gatherings owing to the pandemic were issued to labour and farm unions. Balakrishnan also mentioned how police were making calls to these unions, and questioning them on their plans for the rallies.
Attempts to villainise and criminalise yesterday’s protests have been widespread in the media; While in Tamil media, it has been lesser owing to the fact that many of news channels are affiliated to opposition parties who have been continually against the three agri-laws, Arun, an activist from Tamilnadu Uzhavar Sangam, mentions how social media posts have contributed to maligning the protests in the state. On speaking to Advocate Kennady, he mentions the ways in which this maligning takes place; “It is planned by the Central government such that, those who go against the government are accused of being anti-nationals, or that they are against development, and third is that they are receiving funding from forgin bodies.” He also goes on to mention how people were also not allowed to travel on roads, as another means to criminalise any public gatherings and mobilisations. While the pandemic was provided as the main reason for this, it is suspicious how the very next day, the same restrictions weren’t imposed for the gatherings related to the inauguration of Jayalalitha’s memorial.