Curfew in Indian tech hub over deadly water protests

Pro-Karnataka activists fuel a burning barricade during a protest in Bangalore, India on Sept 12, 2016.
Pro-Karnataka activists fuel a burning barricade during a protest in Bangalore, India on Sept 12, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

BANGALORE, INDIA (AFP) - A curfew was imposed on the Indian tech hub of Bangalore on Tuesday (Sept 13) after a protester was killed overnight during violence over a long-running water dispute with a neighbouring state.

Thousands of police and paramilitary officers were deployed on the largely deserted streets of the southern city, after stone-pelting mobs went on the rampage on Monday setting buses and cars ablaze.

"One person died when the police fired to disperse a mob attempting to torch a patrolling police vehicle after ransacking a provisions shop in the city's north," T.R. Suresh, deputy commissioner for Bangalore north told AFP.

Police have arrested some 200 protesters in the city in a bid to quell the violence, which has forced shops, businesses and schools to close.

"We have imposed a curfew for three days from early Tuesday in the city's northwest, southwest, northeast and central areas to maintain peace and prevent untoward incidents during the festival week," Bangalore police commissioner N.S Megharikh told reporters, referring to the Muslim holiday of Eid.

The violence erupted over a Supreme Court order for Karnataka state, of which Bangalore is the capital, to release water from a river to ease a shortage in Tamil Nadu until later this month.

India suffers severe water shortages that cause frequent tensions between states and the row over the Cauvery river stretches back decades.

Bangalore is home to Indian IT companies as well as offices of international tech giants such as Microsoft and Dell.

Vehicles with Tamil Nadu registration plates have been attacked and protesters have blocked roads by burning tyres and torching effigies of politicians.

"A group of unidentified miscreants barged into our bus yard and set 30 of our coaches on fire with kerosene or petrol," Rajesh Natarajan, managing director of KPN Tours & Travels, a company based in Tamil Nadu, told local television.

Earlier this year the government was forced to deploy troops to secure a canal supplying water to New Delhi after it was sabotaged by protesters in neighbouring Haryana state, causing days of shortages in the capital.