Sunday, August 09, 2009

Protests erupt over Thiruvalluvar statue unveiling

Protests erupt over Thiruvalluvar statue unveiling
Bangalore, PTI:

Over 1,000 pro-Kannada activists were rounded up across Karnataka today, while a man consumed pesticide on the eve of unveiling of the statue of Tamil savant Thiruvalluvar here.


As the stage was set for tomorrow's unveiling, a 33-year-old activist of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) consumed pesticides when police reached there to arrest the activists. He was rushed to a hospital, police said.

In Mysore, police took into custody another Kannada activist, who threatened to jump from a government building.

Pro-Kannada outfits took out protest marches and set up road blocks in Hassan, Tumkur, Chikmagalur, Mangalore, Mysore, Maddur and Bagalkot.

In Mysore, the protesters burnt an effigy of Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and police foiled a similar attempt at Bagalkot, according to reports reaching here.

Continuing their crackdown, police took leaders of Kannada protagonist organisations into preventive custody, rounding up more than 1,000 people, including KRV chief T Narayana Gowda and Kannda Chaluvali leader Vatal Nagaraj.

Yeddyyurappa visited Neelakanta Circle where the statue of Thiruvalluvar has been installed and also the nearby RBNM Grounds, the venue for the public function to be attended by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, to oversee the arrangements.

The Kannada outfits protesting the unveiling have called for a Bangalore bandh tomorrow.

"We will not allow any bandh tomorrow. I called a meeting of Kannada organisations leaders yesterday to convince them of the need to unveil the statue, but they chose to boycott it. We will go ahead with the function," Yeddyurappa declared.

The city police have banned vehicular movement on roads leading to the venues of statue unveiling and public function, besides deploying more than 3,000 security personnel, including striking force, to ensure a trouble-free event.

Additional Police Commissioner (Law and Order) M R Pujar issued a stern warning that trouble makers would be dealt with in accordance with the law. There could be no bandh or violence in the wake of the High Court warning, he said.

Tomorrow's event is seen as a sign of warming of relations between the two southern states, locked in a bitter battle for decades over sharing of Cauvery river water.
The event will mark the end of an 18-year-long wait for unveiling of the Thiruvalluvar statue, which was stalled due to protests by Kannada outfits.

In a reciprocal gesture, the Tamil Nadu Government is unveiling the statue of Kannada poet Sarvajna at a public function in Chennai on August 13, which will be attended by Yeddyurappa.

The Karnataka High Court had yesterday come down heavily on Kannada organisations opposing the unveiling and dismissed a PIL over the matter.

The court had warned the outfits against indulging in violence or observing a bandh.

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