September 16, 2016
Goons let loose a reign of terror on Monday last torching vehicles belonging to persons of Tamil Nadu origins and targeted Tamil speaking persons at different places in protest against an “unjust” court order on Cauvery waters. It has certainly shaken the people, but they as outsiders in Tamil Nadu too and have nowhere else to go. Fortunately, Tamil Sangam here mobilized support and ensured security for areas thickly populated with Tamilians
Bengaluru: On Monday night people in this slum cluster at Sanjay Gandhi Nagar, comprising labourers, plumbers and construction workers hailing originally from Tamil Nadu were reminded of the 1991 anti-Tamil riots as pro-Kannada activists began targeting people of Tamil Nadu origins to express their anger against the neighboring state for snatching their own Cauvery water.
Few hours after the Supreme Court order directing Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs water to Tamil Nadu, a reign of terror was let loose on the streets with hundreds of angry activists going on rampage, looting and arson in many areas of Bengaluru, which eventually was put under curfew.
But fortunately for residents of Sanjay Gandhi Nagar in Nandini Layout that nestles between two industrial estates.
The residents here are descendants of the workers brought decades ago to build Vidhan Soudha and other government buildings, but are as local as native Kannadigas. Their children go to an adjacent government school that teaches in Kannda medium and most have learnt to speak the language.
Luckily this time around, the violence was controlled within two days and in areas that were dominated by Tamils, scattered across the city, fortified themselves by securing police support with the help of Bangalore Tamil Sangam.
Many residents here had seen the mayhem of 1991 December when this entire slum cluster was torched and not a hut was remaining. All residents had to spend nights on the road with little children for many days till help came and resettled them in the same colony.
“In comparison, Monday attacks was less scary, though there is fear that is palpable. We do not speak in Tamil when we go out, but since people can make out our origins, it is safer to stay with own people rather than run the risk of exposing self to violence,” S Bhavani, who was a victim of the 1991 anti-Tamil riots, said.
Then some women were molested and abused, she said. Now, there was nothing of the sort, she said.
The Sanjay Gandhi Nagar comprises some 450 tin sheds, 15X5 feet long tinder boxes that is allotted to each resident and their families. The Sangay Gandhi Nagar, located in the Nandini layout of North Bengaluru nestles between two industrial estates, off the Mysore-Tumkur highway, falling in the Rajagopalanagar police station limits. This was one of the areas that was very disturbed during the Monday violence and was put under curfew along with 15 other areas where Tamils live in sizeable numbers.
There are 2350 slums in and around Bengaluru where six lakh people reside, out of which 95 per cent are of Tamil Nadu origins. Other prominent areas where Tamils reside in large numbers are Gandhi Nagar, Lakashmir Narayanpuram, Prakash Nagar, Ramachandra Puram, Sriramapuram, Chikpet, Yelahanka, Binipet in North Bengaluru and Chamrajpet, Shanti Nagar, Basavannagudi in South Bengaluru, Jayamahal, Mallesawaram, Shivaji Nagar and Bharati Nagar in Central Bengaluru.
The Tamil dominated areas that witnessed violence and were disturbed included Rajagopalanagar, Peenya, Kamakshipalaya in North Bengaluru and Nyandalli, Kengeri in West and Nice Road, South Bengluru.
On Friday, at Sanjay Gandhi Nagar, idle workers and women fold sat at the village temple and wondered where their next meal would come from as the violence and its aftermath meant no work for the daily wagers among them.
“Our main worry at present is one of livelihood as we are out of work and may be till few more days. Please ask the government to help us,” lamented Durga Bhavani, a casual worker.
“We have lived through worse and will get over this as well,” said Dinakaran, another casual worker. This is the only area we know since childhood and this is the school we studied in. We are as Kannadigas as anyone else, only we speak Tamil. And for this reason no one should target us,” he said adding “in Tamil Nadu where they have nothing, save for some relatives, we are outsiders.”
“We have nowhere else to go and the authorities should think very practically about people like us,” said Bhaskaran, who works as a labourer on a construction site.
She and everyone in the slum clusters had one confidence — in the community rallying around them. Bangalore Tamil Sangham and N Ramachandran, a social worker associated with the Tamil Sangam. He was quick to get police protection and bring local councillors to visit. They allayed fears of the residents.
L Tamiladiyan, a functionary of Naam Tamilar Katchi, who see conspiracy of Kannadigas to use the excuse of Cauvery waters to kick out people of Tamil Nadu origins. This (current violence) is not about Cauvery at all, but is a ruse to oust Tamilians,” he said.
Which was rubbished by M Velu Nayakar, BBMP Corporator, Ward No 42, Lakshmirdevi Nagar that encompasses Sanjay Gandhi Nagar. The government did not anticipate the issue to flare up so much. But quickly it was brought under control, he said, adding some goonda elements took advantage of the situation.
Ramachandran, associated with Tamil Sangam and a social worker said that Bangaloreans and in fact Kannadigas were very nice people and the two communities live peacefully and as such there is no problem.
But time and again, Cauvery issue hots up and “we come under pressure. But in areas where Tamils live in large numbers, there is no problem. And we also go to other areas and bring anyone feeling scared or under threat and give them shelter till the danger passes away.”