Modi in Tamil Nadu for Defence Expo, Cauvery protesters wave black flags at him
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday inaugurated a defence exhibition in Mahabalipuram near Chennai amid protests by opposition parties and Tamil groups against what they say is the central government’s failure to form the Cauvery management board despite the Supreme Court’s order.
Protesters planted black flags on the way and also reached the Chennai airport in large numbers even as 10,000 policemen stood guard to prevent any untoward incidents.
They held “Modi Go Back” posters and some, wearing black shirts, climbed up a huge advertisement hoarding in the parking area shouting slogans as the police ordered them to get down.
Police also detained most of the high-profile protesters, including film directors Bharatiraja, Seeman, Vetrimaran and others, at the Chennai airport.
As Prime Minister Modi took the aerial route to commute to different venues, the protesters could not show their black flags and released black balloons instead to register their protest against him for failing to take care of interests of the people of Tamil Nadu.
Chennai Police personnel could be seen bursting the balloons, but some slipped away, soaring into the sky.
DMK working president MK Stalin has asked his party’s workers to hoist black flags at the party office and homes to register their protest. Several regional party outfits too came out on the streets to protest, but were kept in check by the strong police force.
Tamil Nadu has witnessed almost continuous protests seeking the creation of the Cauvery Management Board. The protests over the water sharing dispute grew to include opposition to hosting Indian Premier League matches in Chennai, which were eventually shifted out as police said they will not be able to guarantee security.
Modi was received at the Chennai airport by governor Banwarilal Purohit, defence minister Nirmala Seetharaman, chief minister Edapaddi Palaniwami, deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam and senior officials.
From the airport, Modi was taken in a helicopter to Mahabalipuram helipad from where he was driven to the venue of the DefExpo 2018, a biennial military systems exhibition being attended by close to 680 Indian and foreign firms.
The four-day-long DefExpo, on the outskirts of Chennai and close to the temple town of Mahabalipuram, began on Wednesday but was formally inaugurated by the Prime Minister on Thursday.
Later on Thursday, the Prime Minister encountered a silent protest by students at IIT Madras as he walked a few steps from the helicopter into the car that was to take him to the Cancer Research Institute in Adyar. The students, too, held posters demanding creation of the Cauvery Management Board.
PM Modi is scheduled to take off for Delhi later in the afternoon.