South Asia | Jallikattu protesters torch police station as row rumbles on
Officers inspect the charred remains of the Ice House police station in Chennai. Photo: Reuters
Officers inspect the charred remains of the Ice House police station in Chennai. Photo: Reuters

Jallikattu protesters torch police station as row rumbles on

A mob set vehicles aflame after police used batons and fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators from Chennai's Marina Beach

CHENNAI, January 23, 2017 6:35 PM (UTC+8)

A six-day peaceful protest in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu against the ban on jallikattu, referred to as a ‘bull-taming’ sport, turned violent in Chennai on Monday as a mob set fire to a police station and vehicles parked nearby.

None of the police personnel were injured in the incident.

Rampaging locals broke barricades and attacked the police station 1 kilometer away from Marina Beach, the epicenter of the protests.

Video footage showed overturned motor cycles burning, police personnel rushing out of the station wearing helmets, fire-fighters dousing the blaze, and cops chasing protesters through smoke-filled streets.

The violence followed high drama at dawn at Marina Beach when state police used batons and fired tear gas to disperse thousands of Tamils protesting the ban on jallikattu.

Many protesters defied them by forming a human chain and threatening to jump into the sea even as Coast Guard boats and choppers kept surveillance.

Police chased away pro-jallikattu protesters in Madurai, Coimbatore and Tiruchi also.

The police crackdown on protesters has led to walkouts in the state assembly by the DMK and Congress parties, who have called the police action undemocratic.

The Tamil Nadu government was set to hold a special session at 5pm on Monday to pass an ordinance legalizing jallikattu once more.

The sport is mainly staged by farmers in Madurai district during the harvest festival, Pongal. It involves men trying to tame bulls by grabbing their humps and hanging on until the animals stop.

The Supreme Court banned jallikattu in 2014. Pro-jallikattu protesters are now demanding a ban on PETA.

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