Politics

Cauvery Water Dispute: Two Dead As Violence Continues in Bengaluru

Mandya: Police arrest a miscreant during a protest by Kannada people over Cauvery water row, in Mandya district on Monday. Credit: PTI

Mandya: Police arrest a miscreant during a protest by Kannada people over Cauvery water row, in Mandya district on Monday. Credit: PTI

Bengaluru: The death toll in Bengaluru rose to two after a 29-year-old fell from the third floor of a building at Hegganahalli in North Bengaluru while attempting to escape police lathi charge on Monday night.

One civilian was killed and another injured in a police firing in Bengaluru’s Hegannahalli area yesterday as the city continues to see violent protests from pro-Kannadiga activists against the Supreme Court’s latest order in the Cauvery dispute, according to a report by the Indian Express. The report also added that some protestors threw stones at Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah’s residence yesterday.

The protests have continued to escalate despite the Bengaluru police’s decision to impose Section 144 of the CrPC to curb violence. Section 144 means that no more than five people can gather in public places in the city.

There have been several reports of people in both states vandalising each other’s properties and vehicles in retaliation to rumoured reports of their fellow Kannadigas being targeted by Tamilians and vice versa. In Karnataka, rampaging mobs setting fire to at least 30 buses and trucks with Tamil Nadu registration number plates.

Senior advocate T.K.S. Tulsi cautioned against believing these rumours and told Indian Express, “Well it’s a very serious matter. The rumours are ruling the roost. I think Tamil Nadu should ensure the safety of Kannads in Tamil Nadu and in fact chief minister Jayalalithaa has already guaranteed and assured Siddaramaiah that she will ensure the safety of Kannads in Tamil Nadu,” Tulsi told ANI.

He added, “Similarly, the Karnataka government should ensure the safety and security of Tamilians in Karnataka. There should be no room for rumours. The chief ministers of both the states should come on the television and clarify that the rumours are false,” he added.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh has promised support to both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to limit the violence and maintain peace.

The situation up till now

Shortly after the Supreme Court released its modified order directing Karnataka to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu over a longer period of time than previously ordered, there were reports of Kannadigas allegedly being attacked in Tamil Nadu.

Buses and trucks with Tamil Nadu registration number plates and several shops and other establishments owned by Tamil people or otherwise connected to Tamil Nadu were vandalised by protestors. In a particularly damaging incident, vandals set several parked buses on fire at a travel company’s depot.

There were several reports of arson even as the police stated they had made elaborate security arrangements –  15,000 policemen have been deployed, bolstered by personnel from Karnataka State Reserve Police, City Armed Reserve Police, Rapid Action Force, Quick Reaction Teams, special forces, Central Industrial Security Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force.

Karnataka’s home minister G Parameshwara said the government did not expect the protests to escalate to this level of violence.

Violent protests stemming from the Cauvery dispute have put Bengaluru on edge. Credit: PTI

Violent protests stemming from the Cauvery dispute have put Bengaluru on edge. Credit: PTI

“We expected that if the decision goes against us, there will be some protest, but definitely not to this extent. This is all hit and run kind of thing where 20 – 30 people join together to protest where police are not there, then they suddenly run away”.

He added that state forces were working on bringing the situation under control and that 200 people had been detained so far.

Parameshwara also said the state has deployed forces in sensitive areas, particularly locations with a large Tamil population and Tamil establishments.  He said, “We have taken utmost precaution. We have received 10 companies of central forces. We have requested for more.”

The violence was not limited to Bengaluru, trucks with Tamil Nadu registration plates were also stoned or set alight in Mandya, Mysuru,Chitradurga and Dharwad districts as Kannada activists retaliated to reports of Kannadiga vehicles and property being vandalised in Tamil Nadu and the SC order.

The Supreme Court, yesterday modified its September 5 order and asked Karnataka to release a reduced amount of 12,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu till September 20.

In its original order, the apex court had directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs daily for 10 days to ameliorate the plight of Tamil Nadu’s farmers. This order too triggered strong protests from farmers and pro-Kannada outfits – Karnataka observed a bandh against the on September 9.

(With PTI inputs)