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Sea of symbolic black as Modi visits Chennai

Protests were also held with black flags and placards throughout Tamil Nadu

Image Credit: AFP
Policemen detain demonstrators holding placards and shouting slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, near the Tamil Nadu governor’s residence, during his visit to Chennai.
Gulf News

Chennai: Black flags and balloons and activists in black shirts and trousers greeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he paid a whirlwind visit to Chennai via helicopter, in the wake of statewide agitation demanding constitution of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB).

Protests were also held with black flags and placards throughout Tamil Nadu in cities like Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Coimbatore and Tuticorin against the Prime Minister’s brief visit to the state and the Centre’s failure to constitute the CMB despite a Supreme Court order. Black flags were hoisted on homes and business establishments across the state.

In a bid to avoid protesters, Modi, who arrived here by a special aircraft in the morning, chose a helicopter to reach Tiruvidanthai, in neighbouring Kanchipuram district where he opened the 10th DefExpo organised by the Defence Ministry. From there he took another helicopter to IIT Madras, in the heart of the city.

He then took a one-kilometre ride by car to the neighbouring Adyar Cancer Institute for an event.

The Prime Minister walked a few steps from the helicopter to the car that ferried him to the Cancer Institute. As he did so, he encountered some 30 students from IIT Madras who stood silently but held posters demanding a Cauvery Management Board as ordered by the Supreme Court -- an issue which has whipped up emotions in Tamil Nadu.

Modi then left by helicopter to the airport before returning to Delhi.

#Go back Modi trended on top as netizens took to the cyberspace to register their protest against the Central government’s failure to set up the CMB as directed by the Supreme Court to ensure proper sharing of Cauvery waters between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and other states.

Chennai Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deliver justice that Tamil Nadu is looking for amid growing political turmoil over the Cauvery water issue.

As Modi arrived here on Thursday, Kamal tweeted a video and shared an open letter to the Prime Minister via social media.

“You can easily deliver the justice that Tamil Nadu is asking for, seeking,” Kamal said.

In the letter, in which he has called himself a “concerned citizen of India and Tamizh Nadu”, Kamal said people were dismayed by the delay in setting up Cauvery Water Management Board and wanted justice.

“The Supreme Court has already performed its constitutional role by delivering the judgement. It is now the turn of your government to perform its constitutional duty and implement the order,” he said.

Kamal pointed out how in his earlier role as Gujarat Chief Minister, Modi had the experience of water sharing amongst four states through the Narmada Control Authority.

“Please do the needful as our Prime Minister and set up the Cauvery Water Management Board to ensure implementation of the Supreme Court order in letter and spirit.

“All sections of people of Tamizh Nadu have started to believe that this delay is due to ensuing elections in Karnataka and your party’s interest in it. Sir, it is your duty as the Prime Minister to prove this wrong by immediately acting as per the Supreme Court order,” Kamal added.

He hoped that Kerala and Puducherry also get their rightful share as per the Supreme Court order and said constituting the Cauvery Water Management Board was of “utmost importance” to ensure this.

DMK leader M.K. Stalin, who was on a padayatra of the Cauvery delta areas, wore black shirt and trousers as he protested along with state Congress President Thirunavukkarasar and CPI-M state unit chief Mutharasan.

“The Prime Minister may be flying in the air today but he has to come down when the elections come,” he said taking a dig at Modi.

A black flag was hoisted at DMK chief M. Karunanidhi’s residence. The ailing leader wore a black shirt.

DMK MP Tiruchi Siva and leaders of DMK allies wore black dress and marched on the road near the Chennai airport.

In the morning outside the Chennai airport, activists of the Federation for protection of Tamil Art and Culture, led by noted film director Bharatiraja and other film personalities like Amir, Gautaman and Vetrimaran protested against Modi’s visit. They were arrested.

While MDMK chief Vaiko held a black flag protest in Velachery, Naam Thamizhar Katch convenor Seeman, a film director, was arrested elsewhere. Vaiko called Modi a “coward” for choosing to fly. Political leaders Velmurugan and P. Nedumaran were arrested from Alandur metro station in Chennai for holding black flag protests.

Tamil Nadu has been in turmoil since the six-week period for setting up the Board expired, with opposition parties and a host of fringe Tamil groups attacking the Centre, saying the BJP was interested only in winning the Assembly elections in Karnataka.

Even the hugely-popular IPL cricket matches have been shifted out of Chennai to Pune in view of the disturbances on Tuesday.