Chennai Police and DMDK clash during TASMAC protest

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Aug 6, Chennai: Policemen were slapped by Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) party workers as they tried to prevent DMDK supporters from forming a human chain near Chennai Central Railway Station.

This was one among the state-wide protests by Opposition parties demanding the closure of all Government-owned TASMAC liquor stores in Tamil Nadu, India.

Around 4.30 pm, DMDK party workers,a majority of them elderly women, began to form a human chain on the side of the road in front of Chennai Central Railway Station. While some shook their head vehemently indicating liquor bottles, most said they were waiting to see DMDK founder, popular Tamil actor, Vijayakanth who was to arrive by 5 pm.

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The intended human chain route (Click to enlarge)

DMDK party worker Rajesh Kanna declared, “We are opposing the TASMAC shops”, adding that the human chain would be from the DMDK headquarters in Koyambedu, till the Secretariat (see map).

Kanna, also a Metropolitan Transport Corporation union leader, suggested that the government could provide jobs to ex-TASMAC employees as there were vacancies in every department.

Although police vans and the media were present at the time the human chain was being formed, it was only when traffic was brought to a halt that the police tried to make protesters leave, who then pushed back angrily. Male party supporters surged forward while elderly women supporters hung back, confused at the exchange.

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Police demand that DMDK workers leave

Party workers were told that they had permission to hold a protest. However permission was in fact still being contested in the Madras High Court that day.

The heated arguments led to angry shoving and fistfights, with policemen being slapped so hard that their caps fell off. Inflamed protestors also dared the police to arrest them and did not relent even as more police personnel arrived.

DMDK leader Vijayakanth was arrested at Koyambedu. According to a report by The New Indian Express, 730 party workers in total were arrested.

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