Karnataka grudgingly accepted on Tuesday the Supreme Court’s order to share Cauvery water with Tamil Nadu even as ripples of violent protests in Bengaluru shut down top Indian and foreign companies in the state capital known as the country’s Silicon Valley.
“This order is the most difficult to follow. But when we are functioning within the framework of the Constitution…as a constitutionally formed government it is difficult to violate or reject the Supreme Court order. It will be a violation of the Constitution,” Karnataka chief minister S Siddaramaiah said at a press conference.
He insisted that “injustice” has been done to his state over the century-old dispute by the top court order that sparked mob attacks on Tamil-speaking people, businesses run by people from the neighbouring state and torching of vehicles registered in Tamil Nadu.
Companies such as Flipkart, Amazon and Infosys were said to have shut business for a day as employees could not reach office. Some others asked employees to work from home.
At least two people were killed, one of them succumbing to his injuries, on Tuesday in the violence, forcing the government to clamp curfew and issue shoot-at-sight orders in the capital. Retaliatory violence also erupted in Tamil Nadu.
The latest flare-up occurred after the top court asked Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs of water to the neighbouring state till September 20. Karnataka, where farmers are facing water shortage due to a deficient monsoon, stores the river’s water at the reservoir on the Krishna Raja Sagara Dam in Srirangapatna near Mandya.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke on the issue, saying the violence was “distressful” and urged restraint in the city.
“Situation that has emerged in Karnataka & Tamil Nadu, as a fallout of issue of distribution of waters of Cauvery River, is distressful (sic),” Modi tweeted. “This dispute can only be solved within the legal ambit. Breaking the law is not a viable alternative.”
Though there was no major violence on Tuesday, the Centre asked television channels to avoid “telecasting provocative and inflammatory news and programmes” that could further ignite tensions.
The embattled chief minister said he has sought Modi’s intervention on the issue that has sparked largescale violence in capital Bengaluru where mobs targeted Tamil-speaking people, torched vehicles and attacked businesses.
“Clearly, injustice has been meted out to Karnataka. Still, the people have to accept the court verdict and fight the issue legally,” the chief minister said.
He said the state we will file a review petition on the order of the apex court which will hear another case on the issue on October 18.
The state government also said those indulging in violence will be dealt with “iron-hands”, he said and appealed to the people to “maintain peace and tranquility in the state and protect all citizens living here”.
Around 15,000 police officers were deployed on the largely deserted streets of the country’s IT capital to enforce the curfew. The Centre also rushed 700 Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel to the city.