Thousands of Muslims marched for a short distance in Chennai today despite the police declining permission to them to hold a protest against the centre's policies on citizenship. The crowd numbering at least 15,000, according to the police, walked towards the Secretariat and the District Collector's office.
The Madras High Court had told the protesters not to march to the Tamil Nadu assembly. The protesters said they were on a peaceful protest and wouldn't go towards the assembly building.
Several Muslim groups that were leading the protest have said the high court order does not apply to them as they were not made respondents to the case.
The ruling AIADMK has come out in support of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA, which fast-tracks the process of giving citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim minorities from three neighbouring countries. The AIADMK says the CAA doesn't affect Indian citizens.
Chief Minister E Palaniswami, an ally of the BJP, has appealed to the protesters to maintain "communal harmony". "The Tamil Nadu government will not allow any move that is against Muslims," Mr Palaniswami said.
Thousands of policemen kept an eye on the protesters at Chepauk in the southern city. They have appealed to people against posting "provocative" messages on social media.
A few days ago, Chief Minister E Palaniswami appealed to Muslims to cooperate for communal amity.
"The state government would not allow any acts against minorities and would stand as a shield for them," he had said, even as some 3,000 Muslim women continued to protest at Washermanpet for a sixth day, which is now being called Chennai's Shaheen Bagh, referring to the south Delhi locality where protesters against the CAA led by women have set up tents for over two months.