Bengaluru: Protests by fringe Tamil outfits erupted in parts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Monday with some commercial and government establishments of Karnataka coming under attack, in an apparent fallout of the ongoing agitation in the neighbouring state against release of Cauvery water.
The protests came a day after a video purportedly showing a 22-year-old Tamil youth being beaten up by a group of men in Bengaluru for alleged "derogatory" remarks on social media against Kannada film actors went viral.
Outfits such as Naam Tamizhar Katchi and Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi hit the streets protesting the ongoing agitations in Karnataka opposing release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, police said. A popular restaurant in Chennai and tourist vehicles bearing Karnataka registration in Rameswaram were vandalised while protesters created a ruckus at a Karnataka Bank branch in neighbouring Union Territory of Puducherry, police said.
Four persons have been detained in connection with the restaurant attack while around 25 taken into custody in Puducherry, they said.
Police protection was provided to the Karnataka Bank branches in Tamil Nadu. In an early morning incident in Chennai, protesters owing allegiance to Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam (TPDK) allegedly vandalised a popular restaurant owned by a native of Karnataka. They smashed the window panes using iron rods and wooden logs and four persons belonging to the outfit had been detained in connection with the incident, a police official said.
At Rameswaram, seven tourist vehicles bearing Karnataka registration that were parked at a temple were damaged when agitated members of various outfits including Naam Tamizhar Katchi allegedly indulged in vandalism.
The group entered the parking lot of the temple near Agni Theertham sea in the town and damaged the vehicles with clubs and stones, police said.
Cases have been registered against seven persons in connection with the episode, they said.
Protests were held outside the branches of Karnataka Bank in Erode even as protestors barged into the bank's branch at Puducherry and created a ruckus.
Around 25 workers of Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi entered the branch on Misson Street in the Union Territory wielding broomsticks, banged them on the tables and asked the bank staff to vacate the premises.
The staff ran helter skelter while the panic-stricken customers rushed out. Policemen, who were deployed in the vicinity, rushed there and took the protesters into custody. The bank was closed for a few hours after the incident and later reopened. However, it was again shut following advice from police.
At Vellore in Tamil Nadu, students of Government Law College boycotted classes over the issue. For the eight consecutive day, buses to Mysuru, Chamrajnagar and other places in Karnataka from Erode, Tirupur and Coimbatore in western Tamil Nadu were not operated.
Movement of commercial and non-commercial vehicles including two-wheelers to Karnataka from Erode was restricted while inter-state road transport through Hosur was also affected on account of escalating protests in Karnataka.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan expressed concern over the "attacks on Tamils" in Karnataka, and put the onus of ensuring their safety on the ruling Congress.
"If the Congress government in Karnataka is not prepared to stop this (attacks), there are chances of bad consequences and the Karnataka government has to take responsibility for that," he said.
Tamil Maanila Congress leader and former Union Minister GK Vasan said that the failure by police to prevent the attack on the Tamil youth for his post against Kannada actors amounted to them remaining "spectators" to the incident, which he said was "reflective" of state government's "ignorant attitude."
He urged the Karnataka government to ensure safety of Tamils while urging the Centre to be non-partisan.
In Thanjavur, a Cauvery delta district, President of the Coordination Committee of Tamil Nadu All Farmers Associations P R Pandian welcomed the Supreme Court's order that water should be released to Tamil Nadu till September 20.
He said the Mettur Dam water level should be 90-feet (maximum 120 feet) for cultivation of a single crop and asked the state government to pressurise the Centre and make Karnataka release more water.
Meanwhile, actor M Nasser-headed Nadigar Sangam (South Indian Artistes' Association) has lauded Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa for securing Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu by approaching the Supreme Court.
In a statement, the Association also took exception to the criticism of Jayalalithaa by some of the Kannada actors during a protest on Cauvery last week, saying it had "crossed boundaries".
"Nadigar Sangam has never hesitated to express its voice whenever there had been problems for Tamils...we thank Chief Minister Amma (Jayalalithaa) for achieveing success (in this matter) by approaching the Supreme Court and establishing our rights in the present situation," it said.