A day after police crackdown, Nadukuppam is still smouldering By Suparna Roy

Chennai, January 25: Burnt cars, upturned scooters, pieces of glass, and ashes were all that one could see on the streets of Nadukuppam today, a day after police allegedly went on a rampage in this angler’s colony near Marina beach.

Even as peace settled down in rest of the city after a week-long peaceful protest against ban on Jallikattu ended in violence on Monday, the wails and cries of anger and anguish of the residents were heard and clear.

A fisherman staring at the ruined fish market in Nadukuppam

The fish market with around 300 shops on 7th street Nadukuppam was burnt down to ashes yesterday after the police decided to take action against the protestors to clear off the Marina beach.

Stocks worth Rs 50,000 were burnt up

The protestors dashed towards the slum after the police started chasing them away. The police entered the slum pursuing the protestors. All hell broke loose when the police personnel started beating the residents suspecting that they gave refuge to the protestors.

The residents of Nadukuppam alleged that the police had burnt the fish market after chasing them away. Thangam, a 70-year-old fisherwoman, sat opposite to the burnt market and said, “I lost fishes worth Rs 50,000. Some have lost worth Rs 70,000 also. It anyway is a hand to mouth situation for us and now we are burdened with such a huge loss.”

Fishing shops in Nadukuppam have now turned into platforms to rest on after the shops were burnt.

Despattu, another 60-year old shopkeeper and resident of 1st street Nadukuppam said that most of the fishermen are ever burdened by loans that have high interest rates; such a situation will only add to their woes.

Women and children were attacked as police barged into the houses.

Others complained about forceful abuses that were met out to them by the police. Mani Gandan (34) resident of 3rd street Nadukuppam said that the police did not see whom they were attacking. “Most police personnel were men, there were hardly any lady personnel yet they attacked the women in the houses,” added Mani.

The women claimed that they were harassed and groped at the hands of the police apart from being abused for no fault of theirs. Kalpana, a resident of Rotary Nagar near Nadukuppam said that her husband was ruthlessly beaten by the lathis of the police.

The residents also claimed that the police threatened them, and they were forced to admit to the media that students and not the police committed the violence. Shahnawaz, 23-year-old AC mechanic said, “The police said if we don’t tell the media what they have asked us to say then they may come and burn our houses after the 26th of January.”

The violence did not confine to Nadukuppam only. People from nearby colonies like Neelam Pasha Dargah colony, also complaint as to how young children were injured because of stone pelting. A stone hit Fatima Begum’s 12-year-old nephew as the police tried to disperse the protestors.

For these slum dwellers, the week-long protest did not matter until Monday. They could barely spend time to think whether Jalikattu should get a ban or not, but after the riot, all they know is that they have faced a huge economic loss which no IT professional or student can help them recover.

Many of the residents injured in the violence, were admitted to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. Prabhakaran, Assistant Resident Medical Officer, today evening said, “Only 3 patients are still admitted in the casualty ward. Rest all were discharged yesterday.”


Suparna Roy

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