The arterial highway between Bengaluru and Mysuru in Karnataka, which has seen protests for over a week over the Supreme Court order on Cauvery water sharing, was once again out of bounds — after protesters took to the streets burning vehicles, attacking shops and establishments, and torching tyres.
Resulting in a virtual shutdown of vehicular movement and business in the region, the protests erupted after the Supreme Court directed Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu till September 20.
Vehicles with Tamil Nadu registration were the first targets of the attack, with burning vehicles dotting the Mysuru-Bengaluru route. Most vulnerable were unsuspecting truck drivers who were abruptly stopped on the highway and asked to leave their vehicles.
As the protests became more violent, establishments of Tamil Nadu businessmen also came under attack. In Bengaluru city, the stretch leading to Mysuru near the Nayanadanahalli area turned into a virtual battleground, with roads blocked with burning tyres, fire engines desperately trying to douse the flames, and police trying to disperse angry protesters.
In one of the worst instances of violence, 30 buses belonging to a private transport company from Tamil Nadu was burnt at its depot at Nayandahalli. Ironically, most of the buses bore Karnataka registration numbers.
Farmers and Kannada activists burnt vehicles at the Mandya, Maddur, Srirangapatna and Pandavapura taluks. Around 3,000 passengers were stranded at various points between the two cities, with agitators blocking the traffic at over 15 places between Bidadi and Srirangapatna.
The State-run KSRTC suspended bus services, which had resumed only two days ago after days of protest, in the area. Private vehicles too were off the roads, with even alternative routes seeing sporadic protests and roadblocks. The only solace for travellers was services of all trains, including the ones plying between Mysuru and Bengaluru as well as Tamil Nadu, were normal.
Karnataka’s border with Tamil Nadu along the Chamarajanagar district was sealed in the wake of fresh disturbances in the Cauvery basin districts. Meanwhile, Mandya Deputy Commissioner S. Ziyaulla issued an order declaring a holiday for schools and colleges, from September 14 to 17, in the wake of the Cauvery agitation.