The mass protest by students came to a peaceful dénouement in Tiruchi on Monday, but not before a section of the protesters trying to hold on for as long as possible by shifting the venue of the protest to the District Court campus.
Although a majority of the protesters acceded to the police advice to disperse from the MGR statue junction, the venue of the mass protest since Wednesday, some of the protesters kept the law enforcers on tenterhooks as they moved in to the adjacent court campus.
Caught off guard, the police were left watching the crowd swell gradually as the day progressed with a few lawyers opposing any police action inside the campus. The initial core group of supporters were joined by many students who came in groups.
Opinion was divided among the lawyers over the students’ agitation inside the court campus. Some opposed the campus being used for the protest, a few others maintained that the police cannot prevent anybody from entering the court.
It was only after the court authorities made it clear that the campus cannot be used as a protest venue that the students began to consider moving out.
A few lawyers also told the students that it was better they moved out.
Much confusion prevailed among the protesters on the next course of action. Some initially considered asking for an alternative venue to continue their protest and even wrote a petition.
Around 2 p.m., a group of the protesters announced that they were calling off the stir temporarily. “Heeding the police request, students are withdrawing the strike temporarily,” said Mahendran, one of the protesters. However, the students made it clear that they were unhappy over being asked to withdraw the stir abruptly by the police.
But even as one of the protesters was making the announcement to the media, some youths protested saying that they will continue the stir. Even as many students dispersed, a reluctant group stayed on for another hour before police persuaded it to disperse also.
Earlier in the day, the number of protesters had visibly come down at the MGR statue junction, the venue of the unprecedented mass protest in the city. A couple of hundred protesters were at the venue when the police came in strength and asked the protesters to leave.
Some of the student protesters near MGR Statue broke down and pleaded with the police to allow them to continue their stir. Deputy Commissioner of Police A. Mayilvaganan held prolonged talks with them. While some decided to disperse, another group moved away to stage a sit-in near the Government Hospital. However, they too were persuaded to disperse by Mr. Mayilvaganan.
Selfie with DC
With their numbers reduced considerably, many of the protesters chose to disperse. Some shook hands and even took selfies with Mr. Mayilvaganan, appreciating the “cooperation” extended by the police during the protest.
But when a core group of protesters moved into the court campus, the police could not do much but watch helplessly. The police could heave a sigh of relief only late in the afternoon, when the remaining students agreed to leave the court campus.