Karnataka

Mandya farmers try to storm KRS reservoir

Police use batons to stop farmers as they try to enter into the KRS dam during the Karnataka Bandh against the Supreme Court order to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.  

Mandya district, the epicentre of the Cauvery agitation in Karnataka, saw protests intensifying on Friday when the State observed a bandh called by many Kannada organisations and farmers’ unions. The situation reached a flashpoint when the police burst teargas shells and resorted to lathi-charge near the Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) to disperse a large number of farmers who attempted to lay siege to the reservoir. A few farmers even tried to plunge into the Cauvery elsewhere in the district, but were rescued.

Tension gripped the area around the KRS for a while when police took many protesters into custody. They were, however, released later.

RAF deployed

The police had put up barricades besides deploying Rapid Action Force personnel and the civil police, anticipating protests around the KRS. The protesters attempted to break the police security to enter the premises of the reservoir. The police burst a few rounds of teargas shells to scare away the protesters.

The entire district was shut for the fourth consecutive day on Friday. The district has been seeing continued protests since the Supreme Court directed Karnataka to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu on Monday. Traffic was completely blocked on the Bengaluru–Mysuru National Highway on Friday too. The protesters, however, did not stop the movement of ambulances, sugarcane lorries and bullock carts.

The entire Mysuru district came to a grinding halt and bore the full impact of the bandh. The bandh, which was by and large peaceful, evoked total support from business establishments, chamber of commerce and industry, and hotel and restaurant owners’ association, among others.

At the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, parking lots and pick-up and drop-off lanes were unusually empty, in stark contrast to the waiting area , which was bustling with people. Though the airport functioned on Friday, the absence of transport saw hundreds of people stranded with no way to get to the city.

For Kai Aunze from Germany, his first visit to Bengaluru entailed a long wait at the airport. Scheduled to start an internship with a private company at Electronics City, he had arrived around 8 a.m. to find the taxi stand empty. “We have been trying to find a hotel nearby to stay. But, we can’t even find that,” he said, visibly tired. Similarly, Thupten Gelek, a Tibetan monk heading towards Bylakuppe, attempted to engage a taxi, in vain.

For those who managed to find a cab driver brave enough to ferry passengers, albeit for a premium, there were multiple hurdles along the way. Hari Prasad, who works at a hotel, had arrived from Vishakapatnam by flight. He managed to find a driver willing to drive him and others to Old Airport Road for Rs. 700 each. The driver decided to take the “back route” through Devanahalli towards Old Madras Road. However, there were multiple road blocks by activists that saw Mr. Prasad being stranded in rural Bengaluru. It was only after the police dispersed the protestors, that they were able to take another circuitous route to the city.

Vehicle pile-up

To add to the chaos, many travellers anticipated problems in getting to the airport and ended up arriving hours before their scheduled flight. Traffic police said there was a vehicular pile-up for kilometres between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Even though their flight to Riyadh was to take off on Friday afternoon, M. Pradeep and his friends arrived at the airport from Kozhikode at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

“We thought we would rather wait at the airport through the night than take the chance of missing our flight,” he said.

With hundreds waiting at the airport, officials arranged for chairs. The presence of heavy security ensured that there were no untoward incidents but a small group of protesters were allowed to sloganeer for a few minutes at the airport before they were dispersed.

Taxi services were resumed only around 5 p.m.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 5:58:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/Mandya-farmers-try-to-storm-KRS-reservoir/article14630872.ece

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