Anti-CAA protests in Tamil Nadu spiked on Saturday sparked by a late night lathi charge on protesters in Chennai on Friday. The state police were taken by surprise when the protests spread throughout the state on Saturday morning resulting in road blocks and traffic disruption.
After the police resorted to lathicharge following stone throwing during protests after Friday prayers in the pre-dominant Muslim area of Washermanpet in North Chennai, the protesters blocked roads in the area leading to chaos. The police claimed that they charged only after three police officials including a woman police constable were injured in unprovoked stone throwing.
After a midnight meeting the police agreed to release all those who were rounded up and the leaders of the protests said they would call off the protests. But the protesters continued to say put on Friday night. On Saturday morning not only did their numbers swell, but fresh protests cropped up in various parts across the city and also in the Muslim dominated areas in the districts. The protesters, men and women, were mostly Muslims.
“The protests have spread only because of police brutality in which many women were also injured. The police dragged many protesters including women into waiting police vans when they were protesting peacefully,” alleged M.H. Jawahirullah of the TMMK. While the protesters alleged that an elderly man had died in the police action Chennai police commissioner A.K. Viswanathan clarified that a 70-year-old man living in one of the streets had died of natural causes.
Protests against CAA had been largely peaceful in the state and this is the first instance of police action. Police suspect that rumours spread through social media could have led to protests spreading across the state. The police suspect that some extremist groups could be behind the violence at Chennai on Friday since the police had only placed barricades to contain the protests so they would not disrupt normal life in the area.