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Chennai: A youth died of burn injuries after he set himself on fire a day ahead of the Tamil Nadu bandh on Friday that saw several opposition leaders court arrest over the Cauvery issue.

Pa. Vignesh, a youth from Mannarkudi, who set himself on fire on Thursday, succumbed to burn injuries around 11am in Chennai on Friday. The doctors at the Kilpauk Medical College Hospital, where Vignesh was undergoing treatment, confirmed his death.

Vignesh was part of a protest march, where nearly 500 cadres of the Naam Tamilar party took part from Pudupet to Egmore in Chennai on Thursday, a day ahead of the Tamil Nadu bandh, to condemn the violence targeting Tamils in Karnataka and to seek a long-term solution for the Cauvery dispute.

Seeman, leader of the Naam Tamilar party, said, “Suicide is not the correct way of protesting. No one should indulge in such activities."

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leaders M. K. Stalin and Kanimozhi were among several leaders detained on Friday while staging protests in support of the shutdown that evoked a mixed response in the state.

Leader of the opposition and DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin was taken into preventive custody after staging a protest march and trying to enter the Egmore railway station in Chennai on Friday.

Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi and Thol. Thirumavalavan, leader of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), were also detained at different places in Chennai. Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam(MDMK) leader Vaiko was held by the police during a protest in Trichy.

Others who courted arrest include A.M. Vikramaraja, president,Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangankalin Peramaippu (Federation of Tamil Nadu Traders’ Association), and P.R. Pandian, coordinator of Tamil Nadu farmers’ unions.

As Vijayakanth is sick, his wife Premalatha Vijayakanth led the members of Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) in a hunger strike, in the party’s headquarters at Koyambedu in Chennai.

Large-scale demonstrations were held in Thanjavur and the Cauvery delta region by farmer associations backed by VCK, MDMK and Left parties.

A Puducherry report said an effigy of Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah was burnt outside the bus terminus by some agitators and that the flames were doused by police. A Puducherry Road Transport Corporation was stoned on Vazhudavoor road, following which it was brought to the shed. No passenger was injured, police said.

Several establishments remained shut in Coimbatore, Tirupur and Nilgiris districts, affecting normal life, in response to the bandh call. About 20,000 small and medium scale units in and around the city and over 30,000 garment factories in the textile hub of Tirupur also extended support to the bandh and downed shutters, according to reports.

With Mettur Dam witnessing steady inflows following Karnataka’s release of water from the Cauvery River, Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa on Friday ordered opening its sluice gates for irrigating samba crops in the delta districts. “To enable farmers take up samba cultivation, I have directed release of water from Mettur Dam from Tuesday (September 20)," she said.

In Chennai, DMK treasurer Stalin led a rally from Rajarathinam stadium to Egmore Railway station. He then squatted in front of the railway terminal along with hundreds of party workers after his attempt to stage a rail roko was foiled by police, who detained him along with his protesters.

DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi, who staged a road roko on arterial Anna Salai along with DMK supporters, was later detained by police in a marriage hall. She has sought convening of an all-party meeting over the Cauvery issue. In Coimbatore, senior leaders of various political parties, including DMK and MDMK and farmers associations were arrested while trying to stage rail roko near railway stations and road blockade.

The bandh did not affect functioning of state and central government offices in Tamil Nadu, which remained open. While state transport corporation-run buses besides trains are operating as usual, some autorickshaws, taxis and commercial freight operators stayed off the roads.

Thousands of police personnel have been deployed across the state to maintain law and order. Police said tight vigil was being maintained and no attempts to mar public peace or disruption of free movement of transportation—on road or rail—would be allowed. Several local grocery shops, which usually open by daybreak, remained shut in view of the protests. State transport corporation-run buses besides trains are being operated as usual though autos, taxis and commercial freight operators remained off the roads.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu bandh today: What all are closed?

Barring the ruling AIADMK, its allies and trade unions affiliated, all other Opposition parties, including the DMK, Tamil Nadu Congress, DMDK, MDMK, Left parties and the PMK, are supporting the bandh.

Thousands of police personnel, including armed reserve forces, have been deployed in Tamil Nadu and in Chennai over 15,000 policemen are on duty. Protection was being provided for Karnataka-related business establishments, schools, institutions and areas where Kannada speaking people live, including Krishnagiri district.

Attempts for rail blockade by VCK and DMK cadres has been reported from few places- Arakkonam, Mayiladudurai, Virudhunagar and Ramanathapuram districts. Police, however claim to have averted the incidents and arrested people. A police official from Arakkonam railway station confirmed the incident.

Also Read: Cauvery water war: What Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are fighting for

PTI contributed to the story.

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