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Home > India > News > Report

"Livelihood is more important than fear"

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore | April 01, 2008 17:24 IST

For members of the Tamil community, which comprises almost 30 per cent of the 55 lakh population in Bangalore, the resurgence of the Cauvery issue brings back nightmarish memories of the anti-Tamil riots of 1992.

Arulraj and Lakshmi's house at Ulsoor in Bangalore was ransacked during the 1992 riots. Arulraj, 50, runs a workshop in Ulsoor. He told that in spite of being born and brought up in Bangalore, he lives in constant fear. When issues like this crop up, says Arulraj, it becomes difficult to even walk on the roads.

Lakshmi remembers vividly how some people barged into her house and went on a rampage. "Our cries and pleas went unheard. They even assaulted my husband," she recalls.

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads since time immemorial, thanks to the Cauvery dispute. Karnataka feels that they have been given a raw deal and the Union government has meted out a step motherly treatment towards it.

But why should the Tamil community, living in a cosmopolitan city like Bangalore, suffer because of the feud between the two states?

"It is the ordinary person who is being attacked due to the political agenda of some people. When Tamils are attacked in Bangalore, in retaliation, Kannadigas are attacked in Chennai. Politicians from both states should watch out before making statements on such sensitive issues. They get away with it, but the people suffer," said a member of the Tamil Sangam on condition of anonymity.

"I do not remember the 1992 riots as I was too young at that time. From what my parents tell me, I get the picture that it was bad. Frankly speaking, I have never ever faced a problem and majority of my friends are Kannadigas. We do not discuss politics and don't even care what the problem is," said Divakaran, an employee at a software firm in Bangalore.

But he is quick to add that he feels sad about "living under protection every time such an issue crops up. Duing Dr Rajkumar's abduction crisis, our houses were surrounded by policemen. I sometimes wonder why I am living under protection in my own country,"

Samuel, another resident of Ulsoor, shares a similar view. He points out that during such clashes, Ulsoor is the first target as it has the highest concentration of Tamils in Bangalore.

"By the time the police arrive, most of the damage is already done. Women and children are abused and it hurts to see such things taking place. There has been constant tension, triggered by issues like the abduction of Dr Rajkumar and the recent Cauvery verdict. We never know what is going to happen to us," said Samuel.

"A section of the Kannadigas may argue that we should not live in their state. We came here in search of opportunities and settled down here. We have no choice but to live in fear since at some point of time, livelihood becomes more important than fear," he added.