Bengaluru calm, protests rage elsewhere over Cauvery

Bengaluru: Uneasy calm prevailed in violence-hit Bengaluru on Tuesday even as protests resumed at Mandya and Mysuru in southern Karnataka over releasing more Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu.

“The situation is peaceful across the city. No fresh incident has been reported since morning. Security, however, remains tight and forces are on high alert,” said Bengaluru Police Commissioner N.S. Megharikh.

Curfew was relaxed since morning for Muslims to offer Eid prayers at mosques and Idgah maidan in 16 sensitive localities where it was imposed on Monday night after violence and arson rocked the city over reported attacks on Kannadigas and their property in Chennai on Monday.

“Section 144, however, remains in force across the city to prevent assembling of more than five people in public places,” said Megharikh.

Though schools, colleges, government and private offices and banks have holiday for Eid, several IT firms and back offices, which are working, advised their techies to work from homes in view of the simmering tension across the city.

Shops, markets, malls, hotels, restaurants, cinema theatres and commercial establishments observed an undeclared shutdown across the city due to fear of being attacked by protesters and anti-social elements.

Buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws are also off the roads, while metro rail service has been suspended till evening.

Hundreds of passengers alighting at railway stations in the city and at the airport on the outskirts had a harrowing time reaching home in the absence of taxis, autos and buses.

The Rapid Action Force staged a flag-march in a Bengaluru suburb. State-run and private bus services to and from Tamil Nadu have been suspended from Karnataka. though trains and flights are operating to Chennai and other cities in the neighbouring state.

Cable operators in Bangalore blocked all the 52 Tamil television channels to prevent retaliatory attacks and check emotions running high in Karnataka against Tamil Nadu for demanding the river water.

About 15,000 police personnel, including paramilitary forces and Rapid Action Force, have been deployed in Bengaluru, Mandya and Mysuru.

As per the 2011 census, around 2.5 million of the 10-million people in Bengaluru are Tamils — the second largest community after Kannadigas.

Vehicular traffic on the 150 km Bengaluru-Mysuru highway remains affected as hundreds of angry protesters, including farmers, traders and youths, staged demonstrations at Ramanagaram, Kengeri, Mandya and Srirangapatna against the Supreme Court’s order to release more water to Tamil Nadu for farming when Karnataka has water only for drinking purpose in the region.

Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah warned of stringent action against any act of vandalism.

In a video message through television channels, Siddaramaiah appealed to the people to remain calm as the state was facing hardship due to distress situation following deficit rains in the Cauvery basin this year.

“There is pain among Kannadigas that Karnataka has been facing repeated injustice over the Cauvery river water sharing issue. Though we are emotional on the issue of land, water and language, we should not forget that humanity and human relationship is above all this,” he said.

Condemning attacks on Kannadigas and their properties in Tamil Nadu over the century-old row, the Chief Minister said the people in other states should cooperate in maintaining law and order.

“At this time of difficulty, we should not allow anger to take over. Strict action would be taken against anyone indulging in vandalism, causing harm to people and damaging public property, he added.