By Aishik Purkait:
The Supreme court on Monday modified its earlier verdict which had directed the Kanataka Government to release 15,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu from Cauvery river. It reduced the volume to 12,000 cusecs. This, however did not go down well with the people in Karnataka and led to violent protests all over the state. Vehicles were set ablaze and government offices attacked.
The people in Karnataka are angry as water is diverted to the neighbouring state for farming as their lands continue to remain dry.The anger has escalated as Karnataka for the past couple of years has been badly affected by drought and most of Karnataka’s drinking water comes from the Cauvery, leaving the state in a critical situation.The districts which are the worst affected include Mandya, Mysore, Chamrajnagar,Hassan and Ramanagara.
Protests broke out on Septemeber 12 in various parts of Karnataka, especially in Bengaluru. This made the police impose Section 144 across Bengaluru and Mysore.
Protests have turned violent with pro-Kannada groups burning down vehicles with number plates from Tamil Nadu. The anger escalated after a video of miscreants in Bangalore beating up a guy named Santosh after his facebook post criticising Kannada filmstars supporting the protest went viral.This was followed by people in Tamil Nadu attacking a hotel called New Woodlands hotel run by Kannadigas. Another video which went viral showed pro-Tamil activists beating up a driver from Karnataka and forcing him to say that Cauvery belongs to Tamil Nadu. Due to such videos being circulated on social media, anger amongst people was generated.
The State government has requested for additional central force. Ten companies comprising of 1,000 personnel of the special anti-riot paramilitary force RAF have been sent to Karnataka to tackle the situation. Metro services have been suspended even though BMTC and KSRTC buses are plying on the road. Long distance buses have also been stopped as the city is on boil. This served as bad news particularly to Malyali travellers as Onam is approaching. Many schools and colleges were shut down on September 12 and some have declared holiday on September 13. News reports have confirmed that one man was killed in police firing in Rajagopalnagar area in north Bengaluru on September 12. Two policemen were also injured during the protests.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has written a letter to Jayalalitha asking her to ensure the safety of Kannadigas in Chennai and has promised to ensure the safety of Tamilians in Karnataka. Jayalalitha later also wrote to Siddaramaiah, calling the situation in Karnataka ‘alarming.’ However this did not stop the miscreants in Karnataka who later set on fire around 45 KPN buses in Nayandahalli. KPN travels is owned by a businessman based in Salem in Tamil Nadu.
It did not end with this but journalists were also attacked by miscreants. India Today Deputy Editor Rohini Swamy and her cameraperson Madhu were attacked by an angry mob at a place called Madiwala and later at Rajajinagar near Gopalan Mall. At Rajajinagar the duo was assaulted and asked to stop working and join the protest. Later, Rohini had to be rushed to the hospital.
The protests which have poured in from all sections in Bangalore only reflect the sheer disagreement of people with the Supreme Court judgement. However this does not justify the violent protests which took place for the entire day on September 12. Attacking people from either sides of the border will not help the cause as innocent people have been affected leading to a condition which is hard to imagine as Indians are attacking each other. The issue can only be solved through political dialogue.Violence will only lead to bloodshed, hatred and hostility towards each other.