BENGALURU (TIP): Normal life was thrown out of gear in several districts across north Karnataka as the ongoing agitation for Mahadayi waters took a violent turn on Thursday.
While angry mobs attacked government offices and set two police jeeps on fire, two students attempted suicide by consuming poison to protest the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal’s interim order against release of 7.56 tmc ft of water to Karnataka for the Kalasa-Banduri canal project.
Worst affected were Gadag, Hubbali, Dharwad, Haveri, Belagavi along with parts of Vijaypura and Bagalkot districts as all commercial activity and logistics came to a standstill. Police had to resort to lathicharge as several places to quell angry mobs that were going on a rampage; more than a dozen persons are said to have been injured in the police action and over 50 protestors have been taken in custody. Rasta-roko demonstrations were also staged in the southern parts of the state such as Bengaluru, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Bengaluru Rural and Ramanagara districts by farmer groups and Kannada activists.
With the agitators blocked National Highway-4 at Hubbali and Dharwad in the morning the Goan government announced a temporary suspension of its bus operations to the state. In Nargund town, two students — Nandish Mathad and Channabasava Charntimath — attempted suicide during a public demonstration. Violence erupted in Navalgund with the agitators settting ransacking a BSNL office and setting three vehicles including two police jeeps on fire.
While the agitation against the tribunal’s interim order grew stronger in north Karnataka with the activists demanding resignations of Karnataka MPs, a mud-slinging match broke out among the three political parties — Congress, BJP and the JDS.
Taking off from Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah’s statement (made before he left Brussels to see his ailing son) that the tribunal should have released 7.56 tmc ft of Mahadayi water to meet the drinking water needs of twin cities of Hubbali-Dharwad and Gadag, rural development and panchayat raj minister HK Patil said: “We have been seeking water that would flow into the sea, but this was not considered by the tribunal. People will get angry when attention is not paid to ground reality and truth. We have not got justice from the tribunal.” Stating that the tribunal’s order was not final and was questionable, Patil said: “We will explore all legal options including going to the Supreme Court against the tribunal’s order.”