One person died in police firing while another is severely injured as sporadic violence broke out in Bengaluru and some other parts of Karnataka amid the raging Cauvery water dispute that forced the Siddaramaiah government to impose section 144. The chief minister’s appeals for calm fell on deaf ears as protesters pelted stones at his residence in Mysuru. Siddaramaiah also asked Tamil Nadu to protect Kannadigas and assuring to safeguard Tamils in the state.
Amid escalating tension in Karnataka, the Centre assured all assistance to the state to maintain law and order and ensure peace. “I am in touch with the Chief Secretary of Karnataka and whatever help is required will be provided,” Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi told reporters.
According to reports, around 20 buses were set on fire. Trucks with Tamil Nadu registration numbers were either stoned or set ablaze in Bengaluru, Mandya, Mysuru, Chitradurga and Dharwad districts as Kannada activists gave vent to their anger over alleged attacks on state vehicles and property of Kannadigas in the neighbouring state.
Karnataka Director General of Police Om Prakash said the situation was tense, but under control.
The violence also flared up shortly after the Supreme Court, modifying its September 5 order, asked Karnataka to release a reduced amount of 12,000 cusecs of Cauvery River water to Tamil Nadu till September 20.
In its earlier order, the apex court had directed the release of 15,000 cusecs for 10 days to ameliorate the plight of farmers of the neighbouring state, which had triggered strong protests from farmers and pro-Kannada outfits with Karnataka observing a bandh against it on September nine.
At least six Tamil Nadu trucks were set on fire or stoned and a Chennai-based mobile shop and two hotels were attacked in Bengaluru, police said, as activists of different pro-Kannada outfits took to the streets.
Elaborate security arrangements are in place in the city with 15,000 policemen being deployed. Karnataka State Reserve Police, City Armed Reserve Police, Rapid Action Force, Quick Reaction Teams, special forces, Central Industrial Security Force and Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force and 3000 home guards are also on duty.
— ANI (@ANI_news) September 12, 2016
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has called an emergency cabinet meeting tomorrow to discuss the situation arising out of the Cauvery row.
As reports of arson and vandalism spread, office-goers rushed back home, with many companies calling off work as a precautionary step and schools and colleges declaring holiday, with sudden rush causing traffic gridlocks in several parts.
Metro, on which lakhs of commuters depend, also temporarily suspended its services.
Activists of disparate pro-Kannada outfits took control of streets in several areas and resorted to stone throwing and burning, targetting buses and trucks.
Two Chennai-based hotels and mobile shops were attacked and vandalised in Bengaluru.
Voicing concern over violence against Kannada speaking people and their properties in Tamil Nadu over the past two days, Siddaramaiah wrote to his counterpart Jayalalithaa to ensure adequate safety and protection for Kannada speaking people in Tamil Nadu.
“You would agree that the incidents of violence against Kannada speaking people that are being reported from Tamil Nadu would incite passions threatening peace in our state, which all of us should prevent,” Siddaramiah said.
Siddaramaiah said his government was firmly committed to maintaining law and order in the state and had taken “utmost” precaution to ensure the safety and security of all citizens, particularly Tamil speaking people, in the state.
In response to Siddaramaiah’s letter, Jayalalithaa wrote back to the Karnataka chief minister requesting to ensure safety and security of Tamilians residing in Karnataka.
Speaking to reporters earlier, Siddaramaiah said he would also speak to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, if necessary, on the incidents targeting Kannadigas.
Asking people not to pay heed to rumours and to cooperate in maintaining law and order, Karnataka state DGP
Omprakash said as a precautionary measure section 144 is in place in Bengaluru city, Mandya, Mysuru, Srirangapatna and near four dams in the Cauvery basin.
Prohibitory orders will remain until normalcy is restored, he said adding, the situation is “tense, but under control.”
(With inputs from agencies)