One person was killed and three others were injured in police firing in Bengaluru as the Cauvery water dispute took a violent turn on Monday following a Supreme Court order to Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs of water from the river to Tamil Nadu till September 20.
The court had, on September 5, ordered the state to release 15,000 cusecs a day
By late night, curfew was imposed in 16 police station limits while Section 144, prohibiting assembly of five or more people, was in place elsewhere across the city . The country’s IT capital had shut down by afternoon amid fears of violence and arson, stoked further by social media posts and local TV channels running loop of scores of blazing vehicles and reports of an attack on a Kannadiga-owned hotel in Chennai..
The attack took place in the early hours of Monday as a mob belonging to a pro-Tamil outfit hurled six petrol bombs at the New Woodlands Hotel on Dr Radhakrishnan Salai.Within hours, at least 60 buses and trucks bearing Tamil Nadu registration numbers were set on fire in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mandya, Chitradurga and Dharwad districts and their crew beaten up.
Home minister G Parameshwara threw up his hands, saying, “We can’t provide protection to every vehicle on the road. The protest over Cauvery dispute taking a violent turn is unfortunate.”
Soon, mobs took over the streets in western and southern parts of Bengaluru, indulging in arson and rioting while cops helplessly appealed for peace on Twitter.
The Centre has sought a report on the situation from the state government, even as chief minister Siddaramaiah dashed off a letter to Union home minister Rajnath Singh seeking paramilitary forces. As the rumour mills spread panic, schools and colleges shut down, sending thousands of children, young men and women on the streets, jeopardising their safety. Several IT companies, including most majors, allowed their employees to leave early and provided them transport.
One bus of an IT major was stopped by a mob and employees were told to walk home. The agitators even checked whether the employees could speak Kannada. Monday had dawned peacefully on the city after an extended weekend but soon TV news channels began beaming reports of violence targeting Kannadigas in Tamil Nadu.The reports went viral on social media and Bengaluru witnessed the day’s first arson when a truck was torched on Nice Road near Electronic City .
Chennai police have arrested four members of the Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (TPDK) for the arson attack on the hotel. The men were identified as TPDK’s Chennai district youth wing secretary M Sasikumar, 30, K Vasudevan, 30, S Vignesh, 24, and S Dinesh, 24.
A police officer said, “There are active TPDK workers in Royapettah. They had earlier attacked a post office and were involved in cutting the sacred thread of Brahmins in Mylapore.” The hotel management was yet to ascertain the loss. It could tun into a few lakhs of rupees, police said.