The route march of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was held peacefully in Chennai and the nearby districts of Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur on April 16.
Thousands of swayamsevaks, clad in khaki pants, white shirts and black caps, walked to the drum beats while shouting the slogan ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.
In Chennai, the RSS route march took place for a stretch of nearly 3 km, starting from the Vivekananda Vidyalaya at Korattur. Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting L Murugan participated. The march saw the heavy presence of police personnel, who were posted throughout the interior streets of the locality. Volunteers from several Shakas, including Ambattur, T. Nagar, Velachery and Villivakkam, participated in the march, which ended with a public meeting at the venue. Similarly, the RSS took out route marches in Urappakkam, Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Arakkonam, wherein hundreds of volunteers took part.
Tamil Nadu police had granted permission for the route marches to be carried out in 45 places across the State, with the direction to approach the District Commissioners of Police and Superintendent of Police to work out the route modalities. The police made several restrictions like not carrying tanda, no slogan shouting, carrying no arms etc.
Last year RSS approached the Government to permit them to take out route marches in over 51 places in the State on October 2 (Gandhi Jayanti). The processions were meant to commemorate the founding day of the RSS, celebrate Bharat’s 75th independence and observe the birth centenary of Dr BR Ambedkar.
When permission was denied, RSS moved the Madras High Court, seeking direction from the Tamil Nadu government to give permission. On hearing the plea, on September 30, 2022, Justice GK Illanthiraiyan permitted the RSS to hold rallies across Tamil Nadu on October 2 with some conditions. On September 30 last year, the Madras HC, while hearing a contempt of court petition, directed the TN police to grant permission to RSS to organise a rally on November 6 instead of October 2.
In November 2022, RSS cadres carried out their annual rallies in Cuddalore, KallaKurichi and Perambalur districts after they had got permission from the Madras High Court. The court had made it clear that authorities would face contempt action if they violated the order. The legal battle went to SC, which on April 11 pronounced its orders allowing the RSS to conduct route marches in Tamil Nadu. It dismissed the appeal preferred by the State Government.
Armed with this order, the RSS conducted pathsanchalan in Tamil Nadu after a gap of 4 years in 45 places across the State. The route marches were conducted peacefully amidst tight security. The RSS procession started on Sunday (April 16) at 4.15 pm from North Ratha Road in Sankarankoil, Tenkasi district. The women offered aarti to the RSS worker who led the procession. RSS functionaries and senior members started the procession with flower garlands. The procession passed through Main Road Rajapalayam Road, Thiruvalluvar Nagar Thiruvalluvar Road, Thiruvenkadam Road Matang Kovil Street and Lower Rathaveedi City to reach the North Ratha Road stage. More than 400 RSS workers participated.
RSS Zilla Pathachanjalan started in front of the government transport corporation workshop in Srivilliputhur in Virudhunagar district. Starting from the new bus stand site in Villupuram, the procession passed through Tiruchi Road, Chennai Road, Kamarajar Road, Thiru VK Road, and Nehru Road and ended at the old bus stand. A public meeting was held there in the evening.
Starting from the Anna statue in Tiruvannamalai district, the RSS procession took place through the Gandhi statue, Madaveedi, Chinna shop street and back to the Anna statue. The RSS rally at Kumbakonam and Pattukottai in Thanjavur district was peaceful. At Kumbakonam, Thanjavur district, the RSS rally started at 4:15 pm from Kumbakonam Gandhidi Road, Mahamaga Pond, Periya Kadatheru, Nageswaran Road and back to Gandhidi Road. 200 people participated in the rally.
In Pattukottai, Kasangulam started at 4:25 pm; the procession came through the main route, including the clock tower, Periyakadai Street, and Thaliyari Street and ended at the Post Office. More than 500 people, including Kesava Vinagam, participated in this rally which started in the Marakadi area in Trichy.
In Madurai, the RSS rally was held in Anna Nagar, with several hundred workers taking part. In Salem, more than 600 swayam sevaks took party in the rally.
The RSS march from the Karur district Thirukambuliyaur roundabout to Erode Road Veluchamipuram was peaceful. Then a public meeting was held in that area. In Coimbatore, the most communally sensitive area, the route march, besides rallies in Mettupalayam and Pollachi in the district, went off peacefully. In Trichy, around 700 RSS cadres took part in the rally around. Around 1,200 police personnel were deployed to ensure public safety. Explosive experts conducted a search on the route of the rally. Public meetings were held in all the places, with speakers talking about the history of RSS.
State BJP president Annamalai tweeted, “RSS was founded in 1925, and in another two years the organisation is set to celebrate its centenary year. RSS served the people across the country in providing education and health care. During the pandemic time, they reached the places that no one else reached. The rally which had the ideals of equality and nationalism was conducted in 45 places across the State despite opposition from the state government”.
A statement from the RSS said, “sangh route march is a public exhibition of exemplary discipline by normal citizens and the organisation’s training abilities. RSS conducts its route march to instil confidence among the general public that Hindus society can walk together in an organised disciplined and punctual manner. Well-trained Swayamsevaks (volunteers) are members of the organisation. They range from daily wage earners, students to well-placed professionals, factory, office workers. Swayamsevaks working with their various other organisations also took part”.