Chennai: Traffic in the heart of the city was paralysed for nearly four hours on Tuesday, as over 20,000 people belonging to 23 Muslim organisations gathered on the Anna Salai-Pudupet junction in a show of strength to protest against alleged anti-Islam film, Innocence of Muslims. The demonstration was by and large peaceful, except for a mild lathicharge at one place and a few other stray incidents. In continuing protests for the fifth consecutive day, activists of different Muslim outfits, including Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, Popular Front of India, Indian Touheed Jamaat, Manidhaneya Makkal Katchi and Indian National League, began to gather on Dams Road from 2 pm, where a stage had been set up.
While a contingent of 2,000 policemen in riot gear guarded the US consulate and all roads leading to it, the crowd of protestors began to swell as the hours passed and reached about 20,000 at 4 pm. Senior police officers, including Additional Commissioner (Traffic) Sanjay Arora, Joint Commissioners S N Seshasai and K P Shanmugharajeswaran and six DCPs, were present at the scene and monitoring the situation.
The agitators raised slogans, demanding that the US express apology over the film and burnt effigies of President Barack Obama and the US flag. Around 4 pm, the surging sea of protestors broke police barricades on Dams Road and spilled on the arterial Anna Salai, paralysing traffic movement for four hours. The protestors tried to march towards the US consulate. However, security near the consulate remained unbreached.
Muslim organisations gathered on the Anna Salai-Pudupet junction to protest against the film Innocence of Muslims.
As was the case in the last four days, it was the common man who bore the brunt of protest on Tuesday too. Hundreds of commuters, motorists and MTC buses proceeding towards Egmore and Broadway were caught in the congestion. There was high drama when protestors performed namaaz on the road near Spencer Plaza from 6.05-6.15 pm. When police tried to shift them, there was a scuffle in which two policewomen, Lizzy and Neghala, were hurt. The protestors pelted stones at an MTC bus and damaged its windshield. Many commuters also sustained injuries.