Bengaluru came to a halt on Monday, the second time in a week, after protesters targeted property and vehicles of Tamil speaking people over the Cauvery river water dispute. One person was killed and another injured in police firing in the city. Offices and shops were forced to down shutters and public transport was brought to a halt. Around 100 Tamil Nadu-registered vehicles, including a fleet of 40 luxury buses belonging to KPN travels, which has services between the two states, were burnt. Educational institutions in some parts were also shut.
Bengaluru contributes nearly a third of India's software exports of $108 billion and has emerged as the top destination for technology talent among global companies. The fallout became evident after the US government issued an advisory to its citizens to keep away from the "areas of demonstrations or and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations."
The violence in Bengaluru, Mandya and Mysuru - the three districts that use Cauvery water - which the government claimed was spontaneous, came on a day when the Supreme Court rapped Karnataka for citing "agitation, spontaneity or galvanised riot" as reasons for seeking relief from its order on September 6 to release water to Tamil Nadu. Karnataka's reservoirs have less than 50 per cent of their capacity because of a weak monsoon in the catchment areas of Kodagu and Kerala.
Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara said the state was not prepared to handle the violence. While the quantum of release has been reduced to 12,000 cusecs from 15,000 cusecs, it has to comply with the orders for an extra five days as against its earlier directive. "We have taken precautions and put in additional security at sensitive locations, where the Tamil population is located," said Parameshwara.
He said the police had detained 200 people for indulging in violence. The state government has imposed prohibitory orders and sought 10 additional companies of paramilitary forces.
The apex court came down heavily on Karnataka questioning the logic of the appeal citing agitation and violence. "Agitation, spontaneity or galvanised riot or any kind of catalytic component can never form the foundation for seeking modification of an order," PTI quoted the bench as saying. "An order of this court has to be complied by all concerned and it is the obligation of the executive to ensure that the orders are complied in letter and spirit."
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said in a letter to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa that the state has taken precautions to protect Tamil speaking people and expected her to protect Kannada speaking people in Tamil Nadu.
Jayalalithaa, in response to Siddaramaiah's letter, wrote back to him saying, "this is an alarming situation and is causing considerable anxiety. I request you to take immediate and effective action to provide all necessary protection and security to ensure that no harm is caused to the person and property of Tamil speaking people in Karnataka." "Despite very provocative incidents that are taking place in Karnataka, absolute restraint has been observed in Tamil Nadu," said Jayalalithaa.