From sloganeering and sporadic agitations, the simmering protests over sharing Cauvery water spiralled into mob attacks in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on Monday, when self-proclaimed water warriors attacked business establishments and vehicles bearing registration of the other state some were set on fire and also common people who found themselves trapped in the wrong place at the worst time.
Reports about violence from the other state further fanned the flames, with angry protesters blaming one another for instigating the violence from across the border. These fringe outfits took the centre stage during the day, worsening the situation each passing hour. In Bengaluru, while one person was killed in police firing, over 60 vehicles bearing TN registration were either torched or damaged. Section 144 that was imposed on Monday evening will continue till Wednesday.
Curfew was imposed in a few areas after the death of a 25-year-old protester Rajesh. Mysuru and Mandya too witnessed violence. The incidents came after the Supreme Court directed Karnataka to extend the period of water release to Tamil Nadu but at a lower daily quantum. In Bengaluru, police had to resort to firing after angry agitators disregarded the prohibitory orders that were imposed from the evening. Even a police patrol vehicle was set ablaze and personnel came under a rain of stones.
Curfew has been imposed in several areas. Over 30 national permit trucks and smaller vehicles that ferried cargo between the states were targeted while KPN Travels was the worst affected after miscreants set as many as 32 of its buses parked at a yard in Veerabhadranagar near Nayandahalli on fire. Children were most affected as some schools asked parents to pick up their wards before school hours ended.
As the protests threatened to go out of hand, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah convened an emergency cabinet meeting on Tuesday. He also wrote to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa asking to take steps to protect Kannadigas and assuring to protect Tamils in his State. The scenes were no different in Tamil Nadu where vehicles that bore Karnataka registration were targeted by protesters armed with logs, rods and stones. Establishments including the popular New Woodlands Hotel, in the heart of Chennai, came under attack from petrol bombs.
In coastal Rameswaram, two buses, two vans and a passenger car were damaged by protesters. The mob also assaulted a hapless man from Karnataka. Similar attacks were reported from Tiruvannamalai, Tiruchy, Salem and other places.