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Cauvery row: Opposition bandh near total in Tamil Nadu

April 05, 2018 22:03 IST

Rail and road blockade, demonstrations, and impromptu rallies by the Opposition marked the shutdown in the state affecting normal life to some extent.

IMAGE: DMK working president M K Stalin along with leaders of other parties during a road-roko protest in Chennai on Thursday. Photographs: R Senthil Kumar/PTI Photo

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led opposition parties' sponsored bandh demanding setting up of the Cauvery Management Board was by and large peaceful and near total in Tamil Nadu, barring stone-pelting incidents in some parts.

Rail and road blockade, demonstrations, and impromptu rallies by the Opposition marked the shutdown in the state affecting normal life to some extent.

Police said stone pelting incidents were reported from places including Chennai, Vellore, Erode and Sivaganga.

A police man was injured in Chennai in a stone-pelting incident, they said.

In some regions like parts of Madurai district, the bandh evoked partial and mixed response.

Although state-run transport corporation buses were operated, it witnessed a drop in services owing to support for the bandh from opposition backed trade unions, including DMK's Labour Progressive Federation.

Deputy chief minister O Panneersevalm, however, said 98 per cent of the buses were operated.

Suburban train services and Metro rail operations were not affected.

There was poor patronage for buses in most parts of the state like at the major inter and intra-state Koyambedu Bus Terminus in Chennai.

Despite availability of drivers and conductors, there were almost no takers for the services in the sprawling terminus which presented a deserted look.

Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation buses remained parked inside the terminus.

KSRTC operates services to several destinations in Tamil Nadu including Chennai. Similarly, Tamil Nadu state-run buses to Karnataka were suspended, officials said.

While Tamil Nadu political parties held demonstrations off Hosur, close to the Karnataka border, chief of Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha, Vatal Nagaraj held a similar agitation near Attibele close to the Tamil Nadu border.

Police personnel of both the states persuaded the protesters to disperse after sometime.

With the backing of a key traders body, retail outlets, grocery shops and establishments were closed in most places, including Chennai and the Cauvery delta districts of Tiruchirappalli and Thanjavur.

Banks, pharmacies, hospitals and schools, however, remained open.

Calling the shutdown a '100 per cent success', DMK working president M K Stalin said a decision on the next course of protests would be taken up if the Centre did not listen to the voice of Tamil Nadu on Cauvery.

Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary K Balakrishnan, too dubbed the shutdown as a huge success. Such protests would continue till the CMB was constituted, he said.

IMAGE: Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation buses parked at Koyambedu Bus Terminus owing to the Oppositions statewide bandh over demand for the constitution of Cauvery Management Board (CMB), in Chennai on Thursday.

Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi chief Thol Thirmavalavan, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi leader M H Jawahirullah also said the shutdown was a success.

Hitting out at the AIADMK regime for being 'subservient' to the Centre, Stalin said the state should pressure the Centre to withdraw its plea in the Supreme Court.

The Centre has submitted a petition seeking 'clarification', on a scheme for implementing the top court's verdict over allocation of Cauvery water among riparian states.

Earlier, Stalin led a sit-in demonstration and an impromptu rally of opposition workers from Anna Salai (a main arterial road) to Kamaraj Salai abutting the Marina beach.

Holding a black flag, which had letters 'constitute CMB', embossed on it, Stalin, alongwith leaders of Congress, VCK and others walked the 1.6 km stretch.

The police personnel's efforts to halt the rally midway by placing barricades did not succeed and they walked up to the Marina beach.

He, alongwith other party leaders, including Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President Su Thirunavukkarasar and VCK chief Thirumavalavan, were removed from the spot.

Police personnel had to literally carry Stalin, the Leader of Opposition from the spot as he refused to disperse leading to tumultous scenes.

Accusing the DMK of stone pelting incidents, senior All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader and Fisheries minister D Jayakumar said, 'stone was used in the stone age..has DMK returned to stone age'.

Apparently referring to impromptu demonstrations, Jayakumar said 'these things cannot be accepted in a democracy'.

"There are designated places to stage protests where agitations can be held. Protests should not disturb others," he said.

Stalin said some 'media outlets were deliberately spreading rumours to make it appear as if violent protests were staged'.

Makkal Needhi Maiam founder-chief Kamal Haasan said there should be no violence in protests held over the Cauvery issue.

"There is an opportunity for violence, if attempts are made to halt the protest," he said.

Meanwhile, pro-Kannada organisations on Thursday gave a call for a statewide bandh in poll-bound Karnataka on April 12 in a counter to protests in Tamil Nadu.

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