Kallanum Bhagavathiyum
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Cauvery versus IPL; protests and threats disrupt matches

Recently there were protests that the IPL should not be held till the Cauvery Water Management Board was formed.

But neither Board has been formed and the IPL has begun its first match.

Thousands of activists, including the film directors, hit the streets on Tuesday near Chennai’s MA Chidambaram or Chepauk Stadium to call for a boycott of the IPL cricket match between Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders.

Political parties and fringe groups have demanded the cancellation of all seven IPL matches to be held in Chennai till the center forms the Cauvery water management board. Empty galleries, they are hoping, will send a strong message to the center.

Tuesday’s match, however, started duly at 8 pm amid heavy police presence in and around the packed stadium. Through the day, nearly 4,000 police personnel kept vigil in the area.

Despite the tight security, reports emerged of protesters forcing fans out of their CSK jerseys. In some areas, some fans were reportedly roughed up. One incident of protesters burning yellow jerseys, the attire of Chennai Super Kings players, was witnessed.

Since Tuesday morning, hundreds had gathered at Anna Salai – an arterial road barely a kilometer from the stadium and one of the most prominent spots in the city. The protesters moved in groups, trying to evade the police and make their way to the stadium, throwing traffic completely out of gear. Some released black balloons into the sky as a mark of protest.

READ ALSO: Tamil Nadu political leader threatens to let loose snakes in the stadium during IPL match

The police were forced to take many into custody.

Meanwhile, a threat by a Tamil outfit to unleash snakes at the MA Chidambaram stadium capped a day of turbulence in Chennai as hundreds of Cauvery protesters briefly took over key roads leading to the venue in a bid to disrupt the first IPL match of this season in the city.

The snake warning, issued by T Velmurugan of Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi (TVK), also sent police scrambling for cover. Speaking to a leading daily, a senior police officer said, “We have deployed a team of snake catchers from the Guindy national park at the stadium.”

Within the stadium too there were disruptions. The match interrupted briefly at the end of over 7 when a pair of shoes were flung from the top tier of Stand F. Protesters unfurled flags of the Naam Tamilar Katchi.

Calling IPL matches in Chennai amid widespread Cauvery protests an “embarrassment”, actor-politician Rajinikanth had, on Sunday, said, “If they don’t cancel, they should at least allow players and spectators to wear black badges.”

Division of the waters of the Cauvery river has been a matter of a decades-old dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. From time to time, Karnataka has refused to release waters, citing inadequate monsoons and the dearth of drinking water in key cities including state capital Bengaluru.

READ ALSO:  Supreme Court criticises Centre for ignoring its order on Cauvery issue

In February, the Supreme Court largely upheld the Cauvery Tribunal’s verdict and suggested a division formula, which gives Tamil Nadu a smaller but assured share by the constitution of the Cauvery Management Board. The court suggested that the center devise a “scheme” to implement it.  The matter has now been politicised, with Karnataka heading for assembly elections in May. The deadline for forming the neutral body was March 29.

As the deadline passed without any action from the center, politicians from Tamil Nadu, cutting across party lines, accused the BJP of trying to score political points in Karnataka. For days, lawmakers of the ruling AIADMK have held protests in parliament, derailing all work scheduled for the second half of the budget session.

The state has also taken the center to Supreme Court, accusing it of contempt of court orders.

On Monday, the top court reprimanded the center for ignoring its orders and suggested that it had acted with guile. In a petition filed last month, the center had sought clarifications on the structure of the regulatory body. Citing the upcoming elections in Karnataka, it had also asked for more time to work out the modalities.

The court has directed the center to inform by May 3 how it plans to implement the water-sharing formula.


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