Tamil Nadu bandh gets mixed response, DMK leaders detained over Cauvery dispute


DMK leaders MK Stalin and Kanimozhi were among several leaders detained on Friday while staging protests in support of a bandh called in Tamil Nadu over the Cauvery row by farmers, traders and supported by the Opposition. The statewide strike received a mixed response.

Meanwhile, a youth who had set himself on fire over the Cauvery issue on Thursday, succumbed to injuries, police said.

The activist belonging to Naam Tamizhar Katchi had suffered over 90 percent burns and died Friday morning.

“We were giving him all possible treatment. However, he suffered a cardiac arrest and despite our best efforts, he could not be revived,” a senior hospital official told PTI.

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

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, according to reports.

In Chennai, DMK treasurer Stalin led a rally from Rajarathinam stadium to Egmore Railway station. He then squatted in front of the railway terminal along with hundreds of party workers after his attempt to stage a rail roko was foiled by police, who detained him along with his protesters.

DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi, who staged a road roko on arterial Anna Salai along with DMK supporters, was later detained by police in a marriage hall. She has sought convening of an all-party meeting over the Cauvery issue.

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.

The bandh did not affect functioning of state and central government offices in Tamil Nadu, which remained open.

While state transport corporation-run buses besides trains are operating as usual, some auto rickshaws, taxis and commercial freight operators stayed off the roads. Farmers’ leader PR Pandian also took part in protests with farmers of various organisations.

VCK Chief Thol Thirumavalavan, who staged a rail roko with his supporters by blocking a North India bound express train, was detained by police near Basin Bridge in Chennai.

Meanwhile, DMDK leaders and party workers led by party leader Premalatha Vijaykanth, went on a fast at the party headquarters in the state capital. They held aloft placards and raised slogans against the Centre and Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments.

They condemned the violence against Tamils in Karnataka and sought protection for them.

In Tiruchirapalli, MDMK supremo Vaiko courted arrest while trying to block trains.

Large-scale demonstrations were on in Thanjavur and the Cauvery delta region by VCK, MDMK and Left parties.

The bandh has been called to protest the violence targeting Tamils in Karnataka and also to seek Cauvery water for the state.

Barring the ruling AIADMK, its allies and trade unions affiliated to it, all other opposition parties, including DMK, Tamil Nadu Congress, DMDK, MDMK, Left parties and PMK, are supporting the bandh.

Thousands of police personnel, including armed reserve have been deployed in Tamil Nadu and in Chennai alone, over 15,000 police personnel are on duty.

Protection is being provided for Karnataka related business establishments, schools, institutions and areas where Kannada speaking people live, including Krishnagiri district.

A Puducherry report said an effigy of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was burnt outside the bus terminal by some agitators and that the flames were doused by police.

A Puducherry Road Transport Corporation was stoned on Vazhudavoor road, following which it was brought to the shed. No passenger was injured, police said.

Around 200 volunteers of Tamil outfits were arrested after they picketed the municipal bus terminal.

The report said all shops and establishments remained closed. Autos, private buses and stage carriages were off roads and government buses operated in convoys. Hotels and cinema houses were also closed.

BJP workers took out a procession and raised slogans, condemning the attack on Tamils in Karnataka and staged a picketing near the bus stand.

The party’s local unit president V Saminathan told reporters that the Karnataka government had ‘failed’ to protect Tamils and their properties.

Police said attendance in government offices was normal. Government schools functioned, but not with a full complement of students.

A branch of the Karnataka Bank remained closed as a precautionary measure and police were deployed in Chennai.

Passengers proceeding to neighbouring districts of Tamil Nadu were stranded at the bus terminal, it said.

Police patrolling was intensified and all vulnerable areas were taken care of, a senior police officer said.