Saturday was a momentous day of protests. Not only was there a local protest to stop the closure of Rushey Mead library, but millions of people from all over the world took to the streets to protest against the bigoted nationalism represented by Donald Trump’s presidency.
At the same time, protests rocked India, with hundreds of thousands of people across the state of Tamil Nadu protesting all week against a ban on a traditional bull-taming contest, known as jallikattu. The size and breadth of these protests eventually resulted in a partial victory on Saturday night, with a temporary repeal of the ban on the jallikattu event which forms an important part of the Tamil harvest festival.
Jallikattu campaigners across the UK took part in local protests on Saturday, with around 500 Tamils coming together in London, and around 50 here in Leicester (“Demonstration at Leicester’s Gandhi statue over Jallikattu ban,” Leicester Mercury, January 23).
Notably, local warmongering Labour MP Keith Vaz, absented himself from the protest, most probably because of his strong and uncritical support of India’s rightwing nationalist government that is led by Narendra Modi.
Indeed, building anger at the Modi government’s ongoing attacks on the Indian working-class has much to do with the massive size of the Tamil Nadu protests, which took place not long after the one-day General Strike that involved over 150 million people across India.
“Jallikattu is just a trigger. This huge protest is a manifestation of the trust deficit between Tamil people and the federal government and the judiciary,” says historian AR Venkatachalapathy. He added: “Many don’t trust Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP government’s muscular nationalism and recent moves like the currency ban.” (“Why India bull-taming protest may not be just about bulls,” BBC, January 21, 2017.)
For more reporting on these issues, see the Tamil Solidarity web site here http://www.tamilsolidarity.org