Ban orders, over 300 held as Cauvery protests rock Bengaluru

13 September 2016

What started as sporadic incidents became a raging and a fiery protest over the Cauvery water issue in Bengaluru by the end of Monday. India's information technology capital witnessed frenzied mobs vandalising public property and business establishments after the Supreme Court on Monday modified its earlier order of releasing 15,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu.

More than 300 people have been arrested and a manhunt is still on to nab the people behind the violence that broke out on Monday. State home minister G Parameshwara said the Supreme Court order about water sharing and the attack on Kannadigas in Tamil Nadu provoked the people to hold protests in reaction to the act.

''Some anti-social elements also joined in the protest with genuine activists. We will find out the background of the accused persons once the police finish the arrest process,'' Parameshwara said early this morning after he monitored the situation with senior state police officials.

Meanwhile, the state government announced Rs10 lakh compensation to the kin of Umesh, who was killed on Monday night in police firing.

In its latest directive, the apex court has asked the Karnataka government to release 12,000 cusecs of water a day basis till 20 September, which technically means that Tamil Nadu will receive more water than it now does.

There was confusion over the imposition of Section 144 in the state since Monday morning. While news channels quoted the state Director General of Police as saying that the section has been imposed, the Bengaluru police kept reiterating on its Twitter account that it has not been imposed 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 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.

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.

A 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 numbers near Hubli Bypass, Karnataka. More than 40 buses were set on fire at KPN bus depot in Bengaluru.

Mobs ransacked and created havoc on Bengaluru-Mysuru highway and as many as 200 protesters, who were involved in such 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. The managing director of Salem headquartered KPN Tours and Travels Limited Rajesh Natarajan claimed that 40 of his buses were set on fire.

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.

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.

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

Central forces
The Centre rushed ten companies comprising 1,000 personnel of the special anti-riot paramilitary force Rapid Action Force 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 Central Reserve Police Force company have already been deployed in Karnataka in view of the violent protests.

They said 5-10 more companies of the Border Security Force 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.

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