As Bengaluru and parts of Karnataka were gripped by large scale violence and arson on Monday, one person died and four were injured in police firing. Mobs set vehicles on fire and attacked businesses with Tamil names after the Supreme Court ordered that Cauvery water continue to flow to Tamil Nadu.
Police opened fire at Rajagopal Nagar in Bengaluru, when a mob tried to torch one of their vehicles. Curfew was imposed in seven police station limits of the city. Around noon, soon after the court declined to accept Karnataka’s appeal to freeze its September 5 order on release of water, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Bengaluru, burning vehicles with Tamil Nadu registration numbers. The violence virtually paralysed the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 were imposed in Bengaluru and Mysuru, areas around four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin, and Pandavapura in Mandya district. The violence prompted many schools to declare a holiday. Metro services stopped a little past 12:30 p.m., and other public transport was curtailed.
Appeal for extra forces
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah spoke to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, seeking additional forces to maintain law and order.
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said: “We are providing all the required assistance to the State governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, they can ask for any further assistance they want.”
In Bengaluru and elsewhere, trucks, buses, motorbikes and cars bearing Tamil Nadu registration numbers were targeted. Many vehicles were burnt on arterial roads and nearly 30 buses belonging to KPN travels were gutted in the company’s yard at Nayadanahalli on Mysuru road. Outlets of Adyar Ananda Bhavan were attacked at some locations. The burnt shells of several trucks were found in different areas.
As news about buses belonging to KPN Travels being torched emanated, political party leaders in Tamil Nadu issued statements demanding action against the Siddaramaiah Government for “failing to safeguard the properties of Tamils.”
On the Tamil Nadu side, protests and sporadic incidents of violence targeting establishments owned by Kannada-speaking people were witnessed, prompting Director General of Police T.K. Rajendran to convene a meeting of senior police officers.
While no casualties were reported, some Karnataka-registered vehicles were attacked by pro-Tamil outfits. Demonstrations were held outside branches of Karnataka Bank. Buses from Tamil Nadu to Karnataka were withdrawn on specific information of unrest.
Several companies of Tamil Nadu Armed Police were deployed along the inter-state border and big establishments owned by Karnataka government and private entities given security.
Mr. Siddaramaiah appealed for calm and promised protection to all people from Tamil Nadu. “I appeal to both Kannadigas and Tamilians in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to be calm and maintain peace” he said in a letter to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
Later he told the media, “We have taken utmost precaution to ensure safety and security of all citizens, particularly Tamil-speaking people. 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.”
Home Minister Parameshwara said over 200 people had been arrested.
The Bangalore Tamil Sangam appealed to the Karnataka Chief Minister to ensure protection for Tamilians and their properties, and also urged Ms. Jayalalithaa to protect Kannadigas. In a separate letter, it appealed for protection to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In New Delhi, the Cauvery Supervisory Committee which met on Monday said it would only decide next week how much of Cauvery water Karnataka should be sharing with Tamil Nadu and other States.
The CSC decided that the Central Water Commission would draw up a new protocol for online collection of data on real time rainfall and flow for sharing with all States concerned.
A decision could be taken only after such data came from Karnataka, Masood Hussain, a CSC member said. Water usage data from Tamil Nadu during summer and withdrawal in Karnataka was also needed.