Bengaluru/Mandya: The Karnataka Bandh against release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu was peaceful across the state but not near the KRS dam in Mandya where hundreds of farmers broke the metal barricades and tried to enter the dam site to stop water from flowing to the neighbouring state leading to violence.
While the bandh was total in old Mysuru and Malnad, it evoked no response in coastal Karnataka and some districts in North-Karnataka. Near KRS dam, several protesters were injured, five of them seriously when the police resorted to a lathicharge and lobbed teargas shells to stop them from entering the dam site. Some of them managed to push aside the barricades and rush towards the dam site where they were beaten up black and blue by the Karnataka Police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel.
Agitated over this, protesters threw stones at the cops in which a few cops sustained minor injuries. Tension prevailed at the site for more than two hours with the farmers sitting on a dharna protesting against the ‘excesses.’ The injured agitators were shifted in ambulances to hospitals in Mysuru and Srirangapatna and are said to be out of danger.
Close on the heels of this incident, former MP and Mandya Zilla Raitha Hitarakshana Samiti President G Madegowda called up the deputy commissioner of Mandya and reportedly took him to task for caning peaceful agitators. Mr Madegowda threatened to lay siege to the DC office if action was not taken against the cops.
At least four farmers attempted to commit suicide near the dam. Two jumped into the river and raised slogans against the government but swam to safety. Another farmer, Ramegowda (58) from Chadregrama village in Pandavapura taluk, too jumped into the river and was caught in the weeds. The fire department rescued him and shifted him to hospital. Yet another farmer attempted to consume pesticide but was prevented by the cops.
According to sources, the police lobbed 20-25 teargas shells to chase away the agitating farmers.
Buses off the road
The bandh did not affect the movement of trains on the Bengaluru-Mysuru section but the number of travellers was very less. The KSRTC and private buses remained off roads for the fifth consecutive day due to the bandh in Mandya. All shops, hotels, cinema halls, banks and commercial establishments remained shut. Addressing a gathering, former MP Mr Madegowda sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resolve the current crisis.
Commuter dies in Mysuru
Amidst the bandh, a 40-year-old commuter who had come to catch a bus, reportedly collapsed and died at Mysuru rural bus station, in Lashkar police station limits here on Friday morning.
The body remains unidentified and has been kept at the mortuary of KR Hospital. The deceased reportedly carried tablets and syrup used to treat Gastritis. He had Rs 900 and change in his pocket, Lashkar police said.
According to security personnel at the bus station, the deceased had inquired about a bus for Sakraypatna in Kadur taluk, Chikkamagaluru district and was told that buses were not operating due to the bandh. He then sat in a chair at the bus stand and collapsed around 9 am which was recorded by the CCTV camera. He seem to have died due of cardiac arrest but only the post-mortem report will reveal the exact cause of death.
Lashkar police have registered a case of unnatural death, and are looking for his family members. Meanwhile, a farmer, Ramegowda 68, a native of Chandre village in Mandya district who attempted to commit suicide and jumped into river Cauvery during a protest near KRS reservoir, has been admitted to KR Hospital. Two others Anil Kumar, 28 and Vinay 27 who were injured in the lathicharge near KRS reservoir were treated and discharged from KR Hospital.
ATMs go cashless as stir continues
People of Mandya district are literally 'cashless' as almost all ATMs are out of cash following closure of banks in the last five days ever since the Supreme Court directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu for ten days. Sources told Deccan Chronicle that the agitators have forced closure of all banks in the district from the day the SC issued directions to Karnataka. The cash in ATMs has been exhausted and all ATM machines are displaying ‘no cash’ messages. This has badly hit people of Mandya city who are unable to withdraw money. "I have to buy groceries and make payments. But I am unable to do it as cash is not available in ATMs. Even the banks are closed, otherwise I would have gone to my bank to withdraw cash from my account. I did not know when the banks will insert money in their ATMs", said Mr Ramesh, an employee of a private firm. Mr Prakash, a businessman, said his business transactions have been disrupted because of the closure of banks.