Cauvery Water Dispute: Just Who is Burning Bengaluru?

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September 13, 2016

Bengaluru: India's infotech capital stands frozen for the second day on Tuesday after anarchy descended to Bengaluru on Monday and mobs took to the streets protesting a Supreme Court order to share Cauvery waters with Tamil Nadu. So just who are these men who could challenge the Karnataka Police, even the Rapid Action Force to hold Bengaluru to ransom?

September 13, 2016

Bengaluru: India's infotech capital stands frozen for the second day on Tuesday after anarchy descended to Bengaluru on Monday and mobs took to the streets protesting a Supreme Court order to share Cauvery waters with Tamil Nadu. So just who are these men who could challenge the Karnataka Police, even the Rapid Action Force to hold Bengaluru to ransom?

Men make their way past a burning lorry in Bengaluru, which was set on fire by protesters after Supreme Court ordered Karnataka to release 12,000 cubic feet of water per second every day from the Cauvery River to Tamil Nadu. (Reuters)

Jaya Karnataka is one of the organisations at the forefront of the Cauvery agitation. This self-styled pro-Kannada outfit draws its cadre mostly from the unemployed youth, and was founded by a former mafia don called Muthappa Rai. The organisation denies these charges and blames unidentified people for the arson and looting.

Another one is the largest and the most powerful pro-Kannada organisation Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV), although its firebrand founder TR Narayana Gowda said that his organisation was only leading the protests and did not indulge in any violence. "The people are angry over the Supreme Court order. There is no water due to deficit Monsoon. Whatever has happened is spontaneous. We have nothing to do with the violence," he told CNN-News18.

So then who is behind the attacks and subsequent arson and looting? Karnataka Director General of Police Omprakash said that police were trying to find out who led the mob and the strictest action would be taken against them.

According to police over 55 buses and a dozen trucks bearing Tamil Nadu registration numbers were set on fire by the mob across Bengaluru. Several shops owned by Tamil speaking people were also attacked.

Bengaluru resident Ganesh Shenoy said that there was a political angle to Monday's riots and certain elements were instigating the people. "Most of them have nothing to do with the Cauvery issue. They are lumpen elements who took the advantage of situation. There could even be a political conspiracy," he said.

A senior journalist SR Ramakrishna said that hundreds of lumpen elements were on the road and they were targeting not just Tamil-run shops but also local-run establishments.

JDS leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy sees a pattern here. "I see a larger conspiracy behind it. For a week the state was peaceful except some minor incidents. On the day Karnataka's application seeking modification to its earlier order came up for a hearing in the Supreme Court, a Kannadiga run Udupi hotel was attacked in Chennai. Several Karnataka buses were also attacked. Who was behind it? I feel that someone was trying to provoke Kannadigas. It has to be investigated thoroughly," he told CNN-News18.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa who was quiet till the evening shot off a letter to her Karnataka counterpart Siddaramaiah demanding security to Tamil-speaking people in Karnataka. In her letter she maintained that her government has made adequate security arrangements for Kannada-speaking people in her state and Karnataka should also ensure safety of Tamil-speaking people.

Even in Tamil Nadu, most people maintain that some fringe groups were behind the attacks on Monday morning and that there was no political backing. Karnataka Rakshana Vedike leaders say a young man who posted derogatory comments against Kannada film stars in Facebook actually lit the fire leading to Monday's free-for-all riots in some parts of IT city of India. And early visuals from Tamil Nadu of a petrol bomb hurled at a famous Udupi restaurant didn't help.


Courtesy: News18

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