The day-long bandh in Tamil Nadu on Friday, which was observed in light of the Cauvery water-sharing dispute with Karnataka, went by without much incident, despite a number of attempts by supporters' to launch agitations and block trains and roads. Farmers and traders’ bodies had called for the shutdown, demanding justice for the Tamilians targeted during violent protests in Karnataka and asking for a solution to the long-standing issue of the two states sharing water from the river that runs through them.
Opposition joins protests
Hundreds of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam workers and some of its leaders were arrested by law enforcement agencies as they attempted to stage demonstrations and rail rokos in various parts of the state, The Hindu reported. They were released after the strike ended.
Opposition leader and DMK treasurer MK Stalin was detained by police while attempting to stop trains, NDTV reported. His sister Kanimozhi was also taken in custody while she staged a road block in Chennai. PR Periyakaruppan was arrested along with over 500 party workers in Sivaganga. The DMK, the main Opposition party in the state, had announced its support for the bandh on Thursday.
Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko also was arrested in Trichy along with members of his party after he attempted to stage a rail roko at a station in the city. A 21-year-old member of a local political outfit died on Friday after setting himself ablaze during a protest in Chennai the previous day.
The Vijayakanth-led Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam party held a hunger strike in support of the protest. The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi also held a street protest and rail blockade. Other opposition parties that supported the bandh included the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee, the Communist Party of India and the CPI (Marxist). However, the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and trade unions affiliated to it did not make their stance on the bandh clear.
How the bandh will affect the state
The bandh began at 6 am and was observed till 6 pm. At least 4,600 petrol pumps were closed, the Tamil Nadu Petroleum Dealers’ Association said. Moreover, 18,000 private schools remained shut. Wholesale fruit and vegetable markets were closed and around 1.5 lakh milk distributors did not operate on the day. At least 22 lakh shops were expected to keep their shutters down and lakhs of lorries stayed off the roads.
At least 1 lakh police personnel were posted across the state to control the situation, The Indian Express reported. The state’s border with Karnataka was secured and banks were provided special protection.
What is the Cauvery dispute?
The Supreme Court’s order on September 5 to Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu every day for 10 days triggered protests among farmers and Kannada organisations, which urged the state to first protect the interests of its own people. Karnataka held a statewide bandh on September 9. While the court later changed its requirement to 12,000 cusecs of water, violence was reported on both sides of the border, with Kannadigas targeting Tamilians and vice-versa.