Life was affected in several districts of Tamil Nadu as the statewide bandh call given by farmers over the Cauvery river water dispute evoked a mixed response on Friday.
Leaders of various political parties and thousands of their cadres were arrested across Tamil Nadu when they tried to stage protests. All major Opposition parties, including the DMK, Congress, MDMK, DMDK, Tamil Manila Congress, VCK and PMK, offered full cooperation to farmers.
In Chennai, more than 200 DMK cadres, led by its leader M K Stalin and his sister Kanimozhi, were arrested when they tried to barge into the Egmore railway station.
Police also stopped similar attempts to blockade rail and road traffic in several districts.
While MDMK chief Vaiko was arrested in Trichy as he led a protest demonstration with the delta farmers, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thirumavalavan was detained in Chennai as he tried to organise a rally.
DMDK leader Vijayakanth stayed away from the hunger strike organised by his party in Chennai due to health issues, though his wife Premalatha led the protest.
Barring a few incidents of stone-throwing and ‘rail roko’ attempts, the bandh was overall peaceful.
In Chennai, protesters pelted an automobile showroom with stones and burnt an effigy of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Transport and other essential services remained unaffected.
However, cinemas, malls, some private petrol pumps and vegetable shops were closed.
Delta districts such as Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Trichy, Nagapattinam and some parts of Salem nearly came to a standstill with all the shops and businesses downing their shutters. Hundreds of farmers in the delta region were taken into custody when they tried to block roads and stage protests.
As most autorickshaws, taxis, private buses and lorries stayed off the roads in almost all the regions, including Chennai, private schools declared a holiday as a precautionary measure. There were stray attacks on vehicles in Coimbatore, Salem, Karur, Villupuram and other districts.
The strike prompted the government to deploy nearly one lakh security personnel from Thursday night in all the districts. Additional protection was also provided to organisations, business establishments and hotels linked to Karnataka.