Bengaluru: Four days after large scale violence over Cauvery river water sharing, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken suo moto cognizance of the incidents and accused authorities in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu of being “mere onlookers" and failing to take steps to bring the situation under control.
Violence and arson gripped Bengaluru city and many other parts of Karnataka, amid protests against a Supreme Court judgement ordering Karnataka to share waters from the river Cauvery with neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
Anger over the judgement escalated after a video of a van driver being beaten up by a fringe group in Tamil Nadu was circulated on Monday.
“It appears from the National Television channels that civil and police authorities in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu remained mere onlookers and took no advance steps to stop the hooligans indulging in such illegal acts who played with life and liberty of the people," the commission said in a statement issued on Friday.
The NHRC notice came a day after the Supreme Court directed Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to maintain law and order and control protests against the court’s interim rulings on the Cauvery water sharing dispute.
On Monday, miscreants in the guise of pro-Karnataka activists, took to the streets burning Tamil Nadu registered vehicles and attacking businesses owned by people from that state.
The riots, which lasted around six hours, ended with around 100 vehicles set on fire and two people dead as a result of police action.
On 12 September, the SC had directed Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs of water everyday till the 20th—around 18,000 cusecs more than the 5 September order.
Already facing acute drinking water shortages and crop losses, farmers and pro-Karnataka groups demanded that the state government ignore the SC order to protect the state from its second successive drought year.
The commission said that authorities should have anticipated and prepared themselves to meet the emergency situations in view of the sensitivity of water sharing.
“The police and civil authorities woke up to the situation only after the large scale physical violence and destruction of public and private property," NHRC said, adding that prohibitory orders issued later had added to the denial of right to access to hospitals and emergency services for three days. Curfew was ordered in 16 police station limits and prohibitory order across the city.
The commission has issued notices to both governments through their chief secretaries and director generals of police seeking details of persons injured and property damaged. Both governments have been given four weeks to respond.