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Cauvery water dispute: Tamil Nadu bandh passes off peacefully; protesters detained

The day was marked by a slew of demonstrations and attempts to block trains and roads by the protesters across the state. Hundreds of them were arrested.


Cauvery water dispute: Tamil Nadu bandh passes off peacefully; protesters detained

Chennai: A dawn-to-dusk bandh called by the farmers and traders in Tamil Nadu passed off peacefully in the state on Friday even as the opposition leaders courted arrest while leading protest demonstrations in different parts of the state.

The day was marked by a slew of demonstrations and attempts to block trains and roads by the protesters across the state. Hundreds of them were arrested.

DMK leaders, including M K Stalin and Kanimozhi, among others, participated in the demonstrations.

Majority of the shops and business establishments across the state remained shut in support of the bandh, PTI reported.

Attempts to stop the Vaigai Express at Dindigul station was foiled by the police.

The bandh was called against the incidents of violence targeting Tamils in Karnataka and to demand a long-term solution to the vexed river water issue.

However, the strike did not affect functioning of state and central government offices, their undertakings, banks and PSUs though many of them witnessed thin attendance.

Also, government, state-aided and most of the private schools and colleges functioned albeit with lesser turnout.

State transport corporation run buses, trains plied as usual, though most autorickshaws, taxis, private trucks and commercial freight operators chose to go off the roads.

Cinema shows and film shootings remained suspended during the bandh period.

In Chennai, DMK Treasurer Stalin who led a rally to the Egmore Railway terminal, was detained along with hundreds of party workers when they squatted in front of the terminal attempting to launch a rail roko agitation.

He told reporters that his party would support Chief Minister Jayalalithaa if she meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah over the Cauvery issue. He also accused her of "only writing letters," over the issue.

DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi, daughter of DMK supremo M Karunanidhi, staged a road roko on arterial Anna Salai here along with party cadres and they were detained.

She said the Centre cannot "keep away" from the Cauvery issue, adding efforts should have been made earlier to protect Tamil people and their properties in Karnataka.

Police, who had made elaborate security arrangements deploying thousands of personnel, including about 15,000 in Chennai, in view of the bandh, later said leaders and party workers detained for holding protests were being released.

Meanwhile, a youth who had set himself afire over the Cauvery issue yesterday, succumbed to injuries. The activist of Naam Tamizhar Katchi had suffered over 90 percent burns and died this morning at a hospital here.

MDMK General Secretary Vaiko and VCK chief Thirumavalavan staged protests in Tiruchirappalli and here respectively and were detained by police when they attempted to stage a rail blockade.

"We demand the Centre to constitute Cauvery Management Board," Vaiko said, adding full quantum of water should be released according to the Cauvery Tribunal's Award.

Thirumavalan condemned the large-scale violence, targeting of vehicles and destruction of properties of Tamil people in Karnataka.

A stray incident of stone-pelting on a car showroom which was open was reported here. Police said that a probe was on in the matter.

Meanwhile, four persons were arrested today for pelting stones on an office of the IOCL yesterday, they said.

A Coimbatore report said establishments remained shut in Coimbatore, Tirupur and Nilgiris districts, affecting normal life, in response to the bandh call.

In Salem, Mettupalayam, and Pollachi areas most shops were shut.

About 20,000 small and medium scale units in and around the city and over 30,000 garment factories in the textile hub of Tirupur also extended support to the bandh and downed shutters.

Most fireworks manufacturing units too had shut down in the industrial town of Sivakasi.

In Coimbatore, senior leaders of various political parties, including DMK and MDMK and farmers associations were arrested while trying to stage rail roko near railway stations and road blockade.

In the Cauvery Delta regions of Thanjavur, and Tiruchirappalli too farmers, DMK, CPI, CPI(M), VCK and other party volunteers attempted rail blockade and staged protests.

A report from Madurai said the bandh did not affect normalcy in southern and central districts of the state though shops, theatres, hotels and private educational institutions remained shut.

Officials said no untoward incident was reported in the region. But trains were delayed at some places.

They said the impact of the bandh was more in central districts than the southern districts.

Karnataka-based mutts and business establishments were provided police security.

The bandh evoked good response in Nagapattinam and Erode districts.

A report from Puducherry, where a bandh was observed by Tamil outfits and political parties, said an effigy of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was burnt outside the bus terminal allegedly by some agitators while a state-run bus was stoned.

Meanwhile, Kanagavalli, wife of Tamil Nadu fuel truck driver Manivelu, who was beaten up days ago allegedly by pro-Kannada activists near Chitradurga in Karnataka, reportedly told a TV channel that the state should take efforts to safely bring him back.

Later, Stalin said all AIADMK MPs should meet Modi and take up the Cauvery issue with him.

"Else, they should resign which will be an appropriate step," he told reporters after being released by police.

The Centre should also take efforts to set up the Cauvery Management Board and Regulatory Committee, he said.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa ordered the release of Cauvery water from Mettur in view of the standing samba crops.

The Mettur Dam has witnessed steady inflows following Karnataka's release of water.

"To enable farmers take up samba cultivation, I have directed release of water from Mettur Dam from September 20, 2016," she said.

Tamil Nadu has received 8.92 tmcft of water till September 14 at Biligundulu, the designated entry point, with Karnataka releasing water following the Apex Court order, Jayalalithaa said in a statement.

She recalled that the 2007 final award of the Cauvery disputes tribunal was published in a Central gazette in 2013 after a Supreme Court order, and blamed the Centre for not constituting the Cauvery Management Board and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee.

(With PTI inputs)

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