SUPPORTERS of Tamil nationalist parties, who had been silent on the Cauvery water-sharing issue, launched attacks on Monday across the state against establishments and businesses owned by Kannadigas, including a popular restaurant in Chennai, following the release of a video of an attack on a Tamil youth in Bengaluru over the weekend, police said.
Supporters of fringe parties, such as Naam Tamilar Katchi, Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi and Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam (TPDK), also targeted tourist vehicles with Karnataka registration plates in Rameswaram, police said. In neighbouring Puducherry, protesters vandalised a Karnataka Bank branch, police said.
Four persons, owing allegiance to the TPDK, have been detained in connection with the restaurant attack while 25 were taken into custody in Puducherry, police said.
Protesters also blocked vehicles at the state border, which led to a spike in the prices of vegetables and essential commodities in Tamil Nadu, especially tomatoes and onions that come from Karnataka.
Transport bus services to Mysuru, Chamrajnagar and other places in Karnataka, from Erode, Tirupur and Coimbatore in western Tamil Nadu, remained suspended for the eighth straight day, following attacks in Karnataka.
According to a senior police officer, a group of around 15 assailants attacked the New Woodlands Hotel at around 3.15 am, hurling petrol bombs. He said that the assailants left a message on the hotel’s glass panes, which said: “If Tamils are attacked in Karnataka, Kannadigas here will also be attacked. Beware.”
In Rameswaram, officials at the SP’s office reported three attacks on vehicles with Karnataka registration plates. “No pilgrims or tourists have been reported injured,” said an officer.
According to a senior police officer, the trigger for the latest violence was the attack on a Tamil engineering student in Bengaluru by a group for allegedly posting derogatory remarks on social media against the participation of Kannada film actors in protests over the water dispute.
“That incident was the trigger because the assailants had shot a video of the Tamil boy being beaten, which went viral on the Internet and was used by several local Tamil channels,” said the officer.
“In retaliation, a video of a Kannada van driver being beaten was also uploaded online,” he said. The video purportedly shows a tourist van driver being assaulted in Rameswaram allegedly by supporters of Naam Tamilar Katchi.
According to trader groups in Chennai’s Koyambedu market, prices of most vegetables have doubled, including tomato from Rs 7 per kg last month to Rs 15 on Monday.
In Vellore, students of Government Law College boycotted classes over the Cauvery dispute.
Union Minister and BJP leader from Tamil Nadu, Pon Radhakrishnan, expressed concern over the “attacks on Tamils” in Karnataka, and asked the Congress-led government in the neighbouring state to ensure safety.
With PTI inputs