Bangalore — Angry over a tribunal’s verdict on the state’s share of Cauvery river waters, thousands of farmers in Karnataka Monday blocked highways, burned tyres and stopped trains in a show of protest.
Farmers came out on the streets in Mandya, Mysore, Hassan and Chamarajangar districts that are in the Cauvery river basin area.
Karnataka director-general of police (DGP) K.R. Srinivasan told IANS on phone that the overall situation was under control. Farmers blocked roads and stopped vehicular movement by burning tyres on the state highways between Bangalore-Mysore, Bangalore-Hassan and Bangalore-Tumkur.
“Farmers in hundreds have resorted to rasta roko (road blockade) between Mandya-Mysore, Mysore-Chamrajanagar and Bangalore-Hassan and stopped movement of buses, trucks and private vehicles. We have deployed enough forces, including platoons of the Rapid Action Force (RAF), to deal with the situation,” Srinivasan said.
According to South Western Railway sources, the shuttle services between Bangalore-Mysore were affected due to stoppage of trains at Mandya, Maddur and other smaller stations by restive farmers and agricultural labourers for whom the river Cauvery is a lifeline.
“There are some delays in the movement of some trains in the Mysore sector. Otherwise, our services are operating normally and there is no cancellation of trains to Chennai,” a railway spokesperson said.
In Bangalore, India’s silicon hub, the situation was under control though tense in sensitive areas. As a precautionary measure, private schools and colleges were shut in the afternoon. Even several IT companies allowed their techie employees to return home earlier to avoid getting caught in any trouble.
“We have deployed about 16,000 policemen, including three platoons of the RAF across the city to prevent the situation from getting out of control. About 800 anti-social and criminal elements have been taken into custody to prevent any untoward incident,” Srinivasan said.
There was heavy deployment in the sensitive areas where Tamil-speaking people live in sizeable numbers, including in suburbs such as Srirampura, Halasuru, Chamrajpet and City Market.
“We have installed close circuit TVs at sensitive places and beefed up security in areas where Tamil-speaking people live in large numbers,” Bangalore police commissioner N. Achyut Rao said.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of Tamil-speaking workers in the construction and other sectors left for Hosur on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border beyond Elecronics City, fearing attacks.
“Vehicles from Tamil Nadu on the National Highway 7 have stopped entering into the state from Hosur and vehicular traffic from Karnataka into Tamil Nadu is getting affected,” the police official said.
It may be recalled, the 1991 interim order by the tribunal sparked off large-scale violence against Tamils in the state, claiming 20 lives and injuring hundreds.
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been fighting a legal battle for over a century over sharing of the Cauvery waters.