An estimated one lakh people were arrested across Tamil Nadu and released Thursday evening at the end of a statewide bandh called by Opposition parties and trade unions to protest the Centre’s failure to constitute the Cauvery Management Board.
Citing assembly elections in Karnataka and the fear that any announcement on Cauvery may “vitiate the election process and cause serious law and order problems”, the Centre this week asked the Supreme Court to extend by three months the deadline for implementation of its order on division of the Cauvery river waters between Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
On April 9, the Supreme Court will hear the Tamil Nadu government’s petition seeking contempt action against the Centre.
On Thursday, not many government buses operated in Chennai city and train services too were affected at several places including Chennai, Madurai and Salem. Trade unions heading autorickshaw driver unions also ensured that most vehicles stayed off roads.
Police sources said an estimated one lakh people were arrested across the state, and released by evening. “Around 40 government buses were damaged and an officer of the rank of Additional Commissioner sustained head injuries in stone pelting in Chennai,” sources said.
Parties like the DMK and AMMK of T T V Dhinakaran plan to step up protests in the coming days. DMK sources said their leader M K Stalin will start a march from Trichy to Chennai in the next few days. The march, sources said, will be on the lines of the one by Maharashtra farmers. They plan to reach Chennai on the tenth day of the march.
Dhinakaran also plans to march from Dharmapuri to Nagapattinam. Sources in his party said Dhinakaran’s march is likely to start Saturday and will reach Nagapattinam April 27.
“He will be covering all delta districts affected by the Cauvery issue and the drought. A day each will be dedicated to every district and key delta locations where farmers are affected. The march is being planned in such a way that it will start from the point where the Cauvery river enters Tamil Nadu. It will end in the coastal town of Nagapattinam,” a source close to Dhinakaran said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit the state April 12 and most political parties have announced they will stage protests.
Tamil nationalists and student groups have been buying tickets to an IPL match in Chennai on April 10. Sources said they plan to protest outside the hotels where the cricketers will be staying and in the stadium by waving mobile phones.