As protests continued in various parts of Karnataka on Friday over the release of Cauvery water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu and a call for a bandh has gone out, the police have tightened security across the state.
The protests, which erupted after the Supreme Court refused to interfere with orders of the Cauvery Water Management Authority and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee directing the state to release 5,000 cusecs of water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, have intensified.
Farmer organisations and pro-Kannada outfits staged protests in the Cauvery river basin districts of Mysuru, Mandya, Chamarajanagara, Ramanagara, Bengaluru and other parts of the state expressing their anger and urging the state government not to release water to the neighbouring state.
Karnataka has been maintaining that it is not in a position to release water, after taking into account its own need for drinking water and irrigation for standing crops in the Cauvery basin areas, as there has been water scarcity due to deficit monsoon rains.
Protests have also spread to districts like Chitradurga, Ballari, Davangere, Koppal and Vijayapura.
Farmers under the aegis of the Raitha Hitarakshana Samiti continued to protest near the statue of Sir M Visvesvaraya in Mandya.
They were on Friday joined by Nirmalanandanatha Swamiji, the head of Adichunchanagiri Math, a prominent religious seminary in the old Mysuru region, which is also the Cauvery belt.
Addressing the protesting farmers, the seer said that the state and central government should present the facts before the Supreme Court and protect the interest of the farmers and people of the state.
He said the math would speak to the state government and central ministers on behalf of the farmers.
"There is a need for a distress formula (for water sharing) at the earliest."
The district Raitha Hitarakshana Samiti has called for a bandh in Mandya on Saturday, which is likely to affect normal life in the district as it is being supported by various organisations.
On farmers and organisations protesting in various places demanding that the Karnataka government not release water and instead protect the interests of the state, home minister G Parameshwara said, "There is nothing wrong with it. It is their right to protest and the government has no objection to it. But public property should not be destroyed, they should not indulge in any illegal activity and cause inconvenience to people. I appeal to them in this regard."
The police are well-prepared to handle the situation in case there are any untoward incidents, he said, adding, that personnel have been deployed near KRS dam in Mandya district and other places where the protests are happening.
Bengaluru police commissioner B Dayananda held meetings with his subordinates and instructed all the deputy commissioners of police in the city to be on high alert and step up security in their respective jurisdictions, especially in Tamil dominated areas to avoid any untoward incident.
The police commissioner told PTI that all necessary security measures have been taken.
Officers have been instructed to ensure that no incident of stone pelting takes place on any Tamil Nadu registered buses or private vehicles, he said.
Karnataka Rakshana Vedike activists led by Praveen Shetty staged a protest in Bengaluru's KR Puram by blocking the highway. He and scores of activists were detained and taken away by the police.
Sloganeering -- demanding justice, blocking roads, burning of tyres and effigies marked the protests in various parts of the state.
Some Kannada organisations laid siege to Tore Kadanahalli (TK Halli) pumping station in Mandya which supplies water to Bengaluru city, urging officials to stop supplying water to the capital city for lack of support from there to the Cauvery protest.
The police teams have been deployed at the spot.
Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party leaders met under the leadership of former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai in Bengaluru to discuss the line of action the party should follow. Party presidents and leaders from Cauvery basin districts were present at the meet.
Stating that it is clear that the government has failed in the Cauvery issue and its consequences are being seen, Bommai said, "I have seen the (court) proceedings and our lawyers have not argued effectively".
References have not been made by the lawyers regarding the tribunal orders, the importance of Bengaluru's water requirements, the forthcoming monsoon rains in Tamil Nadu, and the utilisation of water so far by the neighbouring state, he said, adding that this is causing disadvantage to Karnataka repeatedly.
Repeatedly highlighting this to the government has not been of any use, and enlightening the public is the only way now, Bommai said. "We are discussing it in the BJP. One round of discussion has happened in Mandya, Mysuru, Ramanagara, Chamrajanagara and Hassan. We will protest there and also in Bengaluru. At the meeting we will discuss and decide the plan of action."
Kannada Chaluvali leader and former MLA Vatal Nagaraj urged MPs from the state to resign immediately from Parliament to protect the interests of the state on the Cauvery issue and said that he is keenly waiting to see what decision Chief Minister Siddaramaiah would take following the stand taken by the SC.
He also asked Kannada film stars and actors to stand with the people of the state and farmers.
The CWMA on Monday asked Karnataka to continue releasing 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu for another 15 days after the CWRC last week made such a recommendation.