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Madras varsity students on protest mode for third day, MNM chief Kamal Haasan expresses solidarity
A section of students of Madras University here continued their protest for the third day on Wednesday against the controversial Citizenship Act, as actor politician Kamal Haasan visited them to express solidarity.
Haasan was, however, not allowed to enter the main campus and spoke to the agitating students from behind the main gate of the university, opposite the Marina Beach.
The MNM chief said he was at the varsity to express solidarity with the students, who are on the protest for the third day on Wednesday.
Haasan, who conversed with students from behind the main gate since he was not allowed entry, demanded withdrawal of the Act since it was "autocratic," and "draconian."
"They did not allow me inside," the actor said, adding he visited the varsity to be the "defender" of students.
A group of 20 students of University of Madras are planning to continue their sit-in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) by spending the night inside the campus on Wednesday, said a student.
"We have decided to spend our second night inside the campus in protest against CAA. Our initial plan was to protest for 48 hours and it comes to an end at 11 a.m. on Thursday," K Karthikeyan, a second-year MA (political science) student told IANS.
"We are yet to decide our next course of protest. The university has closed down the hostel and has strictly told the students to vacate their hostel rooms. There are about 800 hostel inmates," Karthikeyan said.
According to him, police are present inside and outside the campus.
Meanwhile, the University of Madras has declared holidays till December 23. Earlier, the varsity had declared holidays between December 24 to January 1 owing to Christmas and the New Year. Scores of hostel students at its Taramani campus have been left without food since the kitchens too were shut.
"Kamal Haasan told us that he was not here to suggest something to us. He came and met us briefly," Karthikeyan added.
When asked about Haasan not being allowed into the premises, a police official said they had no role to play in allowing or disallowing anyone.
"The gate keys are with varsity officials. Check with them," a senior police official told PTI. Varsity officials were unavailable for a comment.
The students said they were determined to pursue their agitation further.
An ally of the DMK, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi held a "siege Chief Minister K Palaniswami's residence" protest here, saying the CAA was against the Constitution and passed with an intent to divide the nation on "communal, linguistic" lines.
Students of various colleges, including the New College here and another in Tiruchirappalli staged protests in their campuses.
Besides, a section of students held a protest on the state-run Bharathiyar varsity campus in Coimbatore and were removed from the premises in view of the convocation in which Governor Banwarilal Purohit took part, police said.
Also, students of a private college and a group of lawyers belonging to the All India Lawyers Union and People's Union of Civil Liberties staged a demonstration near the Coimbatore district complex.
A posse of police personnel were posted in the periphery of all institutions where protests were held and the gates were closed to ensure protesters do not go over to the roads.
Also, police deployment continued to be on at the Marina, the main campus of the Madras varsity.
Police said their presence was for the "safety of the students."
Two students, who were picked up by police were sent back late last night, one of the coordinators and a PG political science student, K Ragu Prasath told PTI, adding their protest would continue to be on.
The two were picked up for questioning over allegedly inciting students of affiliated colleges to join the stir at the varsity's Marina campus.
The varsity, according to the protesting students, has declared a holiday till January 2.
Students who sat near the main entrance of the sprawling campus, which is just opposite the famous Marina beach, raised slogans against the Centre, the BJP, its student body ABVP and the RSS.
The protesting students are seeking withdrawal of CAA.
They are also protesting the police action on students of Jamia Milia University in New Delhi and opposing the nation-wide NRC.
The Madras University is one of the oldest in the country and students of the varsity are among others in Tamil Nadu who have been protesting against the CAA.