Cauvery protests escalates, Karnataka police detains 20 protesters

Pro-Kannada activists raise slogans during a protest against Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) over its decision to ensure a flow of 5,000 cusecs of river water to Tamil Nadu till Sept. 29. Photo: PTI

Bengaluru: More than 20 people were taken into custody in Bengaluru by Karnataka police for violating Section 144 orders and attempting to take a protest march against the release of Cauvery River water to Tamil Nadu.

Kuruburu Shantakumar, the President of the Sugarcane Growers’ Association and one of the prominent leaders of Jala Samrakshana Samithi was leading the protest. The police also took more than 50 people into custody as a preventive measure in the night, according to sources.

The agitators gathered at the Mysuru Bank Circle Junction in the central business district as announced early in the morning. When they were planning to take part in a protest march, the police took them into custody.

Kuruburu Shantakumar expressed his outrage against the police action. “In Tamil Nadu when it comes to matters of the interest of the state, they will stand with protesters. In the issue of Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu Police supported the agitation. But, in Karnataka the police are resorting to repressive measures,” he stated.

The police are troubling protesters, said Kuruburu Shantakumar and asked the police, "What will they do, if they don’t have water to drink when they go to their homes?"

"The bandh is successful and all have extended their support. Our agitation will continue. The farmers of the state are observing what is happening. The message will go to the whole state on what is happening here. The police must be careful," Kuruburu Shantakumar warned.

The police dispersed the group of agitators who gathered near the Mysuru Bank Circle. The agitators raised slogans against the police and took slogans against them. They argued with the police and asked them to take leave from duty and participate in the protest. The police were repeatedly asked, "don’t they want water?"

The buses attached to Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) were operating in the morning. Most arterial roads and major junctions did not see the traffic rush of morning hours. On Monday, Bengaluru Urban District Collector K.A. Dayanand gave orders declaring holiday for private, aided, unaided and private schools and colleges in the city. He also said that Section 144 will be imposed in the city under which gatherings of more than five people will not be permitted.

The bandh will be observed till 6 p.m. A total of 37 organisations of private transport and 95 other organisations comprising civic agencies, government corporations and commercial establishments have extended their support to the bandh.

The protests

The protests, which erupted after the Supreme Court refused to interfere with orders of the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) directing the state to release 5,000 cusecs of water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, have intensified. Farmer organisations and pro-Kannada outfits staged protests in the Cauvery river basin districts of Mysuru, Mandya, Chamarajanagara, Ramanagara, Bengaluru and other parts of the state expressing their anger and urging the state government not to release water to the neighbouring state.

Karnataka has been maintaining that it is not in a position to release water, after taking into account its own need for drinking water and irrigation for standing crops in the Cauvery basin areas, as there has been water scarcity due to deficit monsoon rains. Protests have also spread to districts like Chitradurga, Ballari, Davangere, Koppal and Vijayapura. Farmers under the aegis of the Raitha Hitarakshana Samiti continued to protest near the statue of Sir M Visvesvaraya in Mandya. 

(with agency inputs)

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