The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cauvery keeps Karnataka on the boil

Bangalore, Oct. 29: Tempers are steadily rising in Karnataka over the release of Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu. If there were relatively peaceful protests yesterday by farmers in the Mandya–Mysore belt, today marked a return to violence with a Congress legislator and many vehicles bearing the brunt.

Prohibitory orders, which have been in place in Mandya and Mysore for the past two days, have been extended to Bangalore for three days from today. The move comes in the wake of threats by some pro-Kannada organisations to intensify protests, police said. The orders, imposed under Section 144, are in force from 6 am today to October 31 midnight, they said.

The imposition of Section 144, however, did not deter farmers from ransacking the residence of the Congress legislator from Pandavapura, Kempe Gowda, this afternoon and damaging many vehicles that passed through Mandya and Mysore. No one was, however, injured in the attack on the legislator’s residence, situated in a block headquarters in Mandya district.

The police said the protesters also set ablaze a bus from Salem in Tamil Nadu last night, but the fire was immediately doused. A lorry was stoned, they added.

More than 50 protesters also tried to march to the Vidhana Soudha today but were arrested.

The Cauvery River Protection Committee, which met in Mandya this morning, decided to continue its agitation till the government stopped releasing water.

The organisation has called for an indefinite bandh in the district. Committee president G. Made Gowda accused the government of using “high-handed tactics” to “muzzle” the agitation. He appealed to the business community to extend its support to the agitation by observing the bandh.

Gowda charged chief minister S.M. Krishna with releasing Cauvery waters despite the distress situation faced by farmers and expressed apprehension that, if the release of water continued, all the reservoirs in the Cauvery basin will soon become dry.

More than 1,000 farmers staged a dharna in front of the Mandya deputy commissioner’s office.

Water is being released from the dam and Karnataka also proposes to release water from the reservoir, which the farmers were threatening to lay siege to. About 60 farmers tried to barge into the Kabini reservoir today, but were taken into custody by the police.

The police had barred the approach to the dam. Agitating farmers tried to reach the dam through another route, but were stopped 3 km away from the reservoir, police said.

The Kabini Horata Samiti has, however, pitched tents on the riverbed at Nerale and Kilsur villages, making it impossible to release water from Kabini as these tents would then be washed away. Samiti leader Mallesh said more villages would resort to this form of protest.

The farmers have also decided to lay siege to the Krishna Raja Sagar dam and the Kabini reservoir tomorrow.

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