Bengaluru: Police banned gatherings on Tuesday in India’s southern technology hub of Bengaluru to deter violence by protesters who oppose sharing river water with a neighbouring state, police officials said.
Farmers’ groups called the protest, which forced multinational companies such as Walmart and Alphabet’s Google to tell employees in the city to work from home, according to internal memos seen by Reuters.
“No large public gatherings” will be allowed, said senior police officer K. Santosh Babu, adding that emergency orders had been imposed. Schools and colleges were shut.
Bengaluru, capital of Karnataka state, is home to more than 3,500 tech companies and some 79 “tech parks” of offices and entertainment zones for technology workers. Protests in the past have led to mob violence.
A farmer was injured at Freedom Park, one of the protest sites, a domestic news channel said on Tuesday, with others detained by police.
Some farmers said they would continue to protest. “I can give blood but I don’t want to give water to Tamil Nadu,” said protester Ravi Mallikarjuna.
Farmers and politicians from Karnataka and the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu have been locked for decades in a legal dispute over sharing the waters of the Cauvery river.
The Supreme Court recently ordered the Cauvery Water Management Authority to let Karnataka release water to Tamil Nadu for 15 days, starting September 13.
However, the government of Karnataka said it could not comply because it had to meet the needs of its households and farmers.
“Tamil Nadu has demanded 12,500 cusecs (354,000 litres) of water. At present, we are in a situation where we cannot even release 5,000 cusecs daily (142,000 litres),” said D.K.
Shivakumar, the deputy chief minister of Karnataka.
The river originates in the Karnataka region of Talakaveri, and flows through Tamil Nadu to the Bay of Bengal.
Environmentalists said an audit of the river could help end the dispute, as changing rain patterns have caused water scarcity in both states.
“The judiciary should have asked for a fresh audit of the river instead of dictating terms to the Karnataka government,” said T. V. Ramachandra, faculty at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science.