Bengaluru burns over Cauvery: Rajnath Singh assures Centre's assistance

What started as a sporadic and an isolated incident, became a raging and a fiery protest by the end of Monday in Bengaluru. The IT-capital witnessed frenzied mobs vandalising public property and business establishment after the Supreme Court on Monday modified its earlier order of releasing 15,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu.

A vehicle in flames after being torched by pro-Kannada activists. PTI

A vehicle in flames after being torched by pro-Kannada activists. PTI

In its latest directive, the apex court asked the Karnataka government to release 12,000 cusecs on a daily basis till 20 September, which technically means that Tamil Nadu will receive more water.

Govt imposes Section 144

There was confusion over the imposition of Section 144 in the state since Monday morning. While news channels quoted the state DCP as saying that the section has been imposed, the Bengaluru police kept reiterating that it has not been imposed on its twitter account while asking people to stop spreading rumours.

Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code is a law against joining unlawful assembly of people armed with deadly weapons.
However, around 5.30 pm on Monday, the Bengaluru Police said that Section 144 has been clamped in Bengaluru as a preventive measure. It will remain in force till 14 September.

Protests continue

Protests have been erupting in Karnataka ever since the Supreme Court gave its first directive. On Monday, the protests exacerbated and protesters set vehicles on fire and vandalised public property paralysing normal life in Bengaluru.

New Woodlands Hotel in Chennai, which is regarded as one of the iconic landmarks of the city, was attacked by protesters on Monday morning. The Supreme Court had not issued a directive till then.

On Monday, most schools in Bengaluru were shut earlier than usual. Parents were called and told to take their children home.
Metro services were shut down completely following the protest, Vasant Rao, BMRCL told mediapersons.

Karnataka bank branch in Chennai’s Anna Nagar was also attacked by protesters. Karnataka also temporarily suspended bus services to Tamil Nadu after pro-Kannada activists set a vehicle on fire in Bengaluru.

Stones were pelted at lorries bearing Tamil Nadu registration number near Hubli Bypass, Karnataka. More than 40 buses were set on fire at KPN bus depot in Bengaluru.

Mob ransacked and created havoc on Bengaluru-Mysuru highway and as many as 200 protesters, who were involved in such dastardly acts, were detained.

A fleet of over 30 buses belonging to a private operator was reportedly set on fire by a mob in a depot today in Bengaluru amid the Cauvery water sharing row.

However, the managing director of Salem headquartered KPN Tours and Travels Limited Rajesh Natarajan claimed that 40 of his buses were set on fire.

"Around 40 of our buses were set on fire," Natarajan told PTI. He said many of his buses were insured.

ANI also reported that one civilian died in firing by police in Bengaluru. Protesters also reportedly pelted stones at Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's residence.

Farmers and pro-Kannada outfit activists have been protesting in various parts of Karnataka since 6 September against the SC’s direction. The Cauvery protection committee even called for a bandh in Mandya.

A dawn-to-dusk Karnataka bandh was also called by pro-Kannada outfits. Some political parties also supported the day long shutdown.

The farmers' leader warned the government that it would face a strong agitation if water was released to Tamil Nadu. Unfortunately, the farmers warning materialised as Bengaluru burned over the release of water to Tamil Nadu on Monday.

Journalists attacked

Meanwhile, PTI reported that a woman television journalist and her cameraman were assaulted and punched when violence broke out in Bengaluru. "My colleague, Rohini Swamy, and myself - we both were roughed up and beaten by those protesting against Supreme Court direction to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu," India Today Cameraman Y Madhu told PTI here.

Rohini and Madhu, who were covering the violence, were attacked by protesters after they objected to the media coverage given to violence and protests staged by pro-Kannada outfits, Madhu said.

"I was punched and later, Rohini also was punched in her stomach, and it was painful - that prompted us to rush her to a nearby hospital," Madhu said.

"As we were shooting the violent incidents near Gopalan Mall at Nagarbhavi, some protesters came up to us and threatened us to stop shooting the violence, and join them in their protests if they were Kannadigas," Madhu said.

"As we shut our camera, a separate group of people came to us and started to rough us up and in the melee they snatched and smashed our camera and mike," Madhu said.

Areas to avoid

As violence raged in the IT Capital, Google put out this map called 'Bangalore Help' to assist commuters. The map clearly marks out areas in Bengaluru which should be avoided and which are high-risk.

Prohibitory orders have also been imposed in Tamil Nady till 14 september.

Paramilitary forces deployed

The Centre rushed ten companies comprising 1,000 personnel of the special anti-riot paramilitary force RAF to Karnataka to tackle the violent situation arising out of the raging Cauvery water sharing dispute.

Officials said the personnel have been sent to the violence-prone areas of Karnataka and if need arises, some of the contingents will also be deployed in Tamil Nadu.

These additional contingents will assist the state police even as three such RAF units and an all-women CRPF company have already been deployed in Karnataka in view of the violent protests.

They said 5-10 more companies of BSF and Indo-Tibetan Border Police are also on standby and can be sent in if the any of the two state governments require. One company comprises 100 personnel.

How did both the governments react

Siddaramaiah wrote a letter to his Tamil Nadu counterpart J Jayalalithaa, asking her to cooperate in maintaining peace and calm in both the states in the wake of the recent attacks on state vehicles and a hotel, which is run by a native of Karnataka, in Tamil Nadu.

He earlier also asked Jayalalithaa to provide protection to Kannadigas in her state. Jayalalithaa responded by requesting safety and security of Tamilians in Karnataka. expressing her concern, she said "hotels and properties belonging to Tamils in Karnataka are being attacked and damaged. She also wrote that despite very provocative incidents that are taking place in Karnataka, absolute restraint was observed in Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, Times Now reported that Siddaramaiah has already spoken to Jayalalithaa. However, no details are available on that as of yet.

Siddaramaiah also appealed to the Centre and PM Modi to intervene. There were reports that Centre is likely to mediate between the states to help resolve the matter. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Siddaramaiah and was apprised of the situation. He has assured Centre's full assistance to both the states.

While speaking to Times Now, Siddaramaiah said that he has also requested for additional forces.

CR Saraswathi of AIADMK, however, said that All Kannada people in Tamil Nadu are living safely and there's no issue at all.

Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara said police forces had been deployed in areas where Tamils live in large numbers in Bengaluru and elsewhere in Karnataka. "We have taken precautions." He appealed to people of both states not to resort to violence.

He also appealed to the protesters to protest peacefully. “We know that injustice has been done to Karnataka,” he said.
The Karnataka CM has also convened an emergency cabinet meet to discuss the Cauvery issue and the violent protests because of the same 11.30 am on Tuesday. Supervisory Committee, headed by Union Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar decided that the Central Water Commission will draw up a new protocol of online collection of data. However, IANS reported that no agreement was reached between the two st

The meeting on Cauvery specifically has, however been postponed for 19 September.

Protests in Tamil Nadu

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.

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.

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.

Reactions poured in

The violence in Bengaluru took everyone by shock. Managing director of Biocon and a resident of Bengaluru Kiran Mazumdar Shaw dubbed the violence as ‘rabidly parochial’.

Rather than sharing unverified facts or sensationalising the issue, people on social media offered support in helping out fellow residents.

Many people even shared their personal accounts of cooperation among citizens amid the protests.

With inputs from agencies.

Updated Date: Sep 13, 2016 10:29 AM

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