On 23rd December, thousands of people marched on the streets of Trichy against the growing fascism and casteism in the state. The organisers said that the rally was an effort to ensure that “there would be no fascist regime, no divisive politics and saffronisation in the state by BJP, RSS, or any other group or political party”. Comprised of people that espouse Periyar E. V. Ramasamy’s ideology, the ‘Perunjattai Perani’ (black shirt rally) was held to commemorate the rationalist’s 45th death anniversary.
The march commenced at Uraiyur road and ended at Uzhavar Sandhai Thidal in Tennur, where a subsequent conference took place. Several resolutions were passed – including requesting the state government to give the Tamil people the right to identify as just ‘Tamilians’ like Indians, banning outfits like the RSS, renaming several cities and places in Tamil Nadu and abolishing the post of the governor.
People belonging to over 160 Periyarist outfilts participated in it, along with the general public. The rally gets its name from the Periyarists’ practice of wearing black shirts. This custom originated from the banning of black flags as a protest tool in Tamil Nadu. To bypass the ban, black shirts were worn by protesters. The colour black was originally chosen by the Periyarists as it is associated in Hindu culture with bad luck and death, as opposed to the auspicious connotations of saffron.
Several political leaders took part in the rally, including K. Veeramani (leader of Dravidar Kazhagam), Ku. Ramakrishnan (Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam), former Justice Ari. Parandhaman, Pozhilan (coordinator of the Tamizhaga Makkal Munnani), Kolathur Mani (Dravida Viduthalai Kazhagam), Thirumurugan Gandhi (May 17 movement), Suba. Veerapandian (Dravida Iyakka Thamizhar Peravai), Aanaimuthu and Kovai Krishnan (Marxist-Periyarist Communist Party), and Kudandhai Arasan (Viduthalai Tamil Puligal Katchi).
They claimed that the rally was meant for the Tamil people to reclaim their rights, preserve their livelihood and assert their identities. They also blamed the BJP of attempting to domineer over Tamil Nadu’s culture, politics and economics. The rally was held a day prior to Periyar’s death anniversary as he had dedicated his life to the Tamil people’s movement for rights and self-respect.
The local police had originally refused to permit the rally from taking place, but the organisers persevered and ultimately the Madurai bench on the Madras High Court allowed the event to take place.
The first black shirt rally to take place in 72 years, it saw countless men and women garlanding statues of Periyar and dancing to the tunes of parai.
Featured Image Source: Tamil Samayam