Bengaluru: Karnataka Home Minister G. Parameshwara on Sunday apologised for the alleged police brutality on women in Dharwad district during the state-wide shutdown against an inter-state tribunal’s verdict on sharing of Mahadayi river, which went against the state.
“I apologise to the women and children who were caned by police at Yamanur village in Dharwad district while searching for those who indulged in violence during the shutdown (on Saturday),” Parameshwara told reporters here after video footage and pictures of the incident went viral in social media and were telecast in news channels.
Dharwad district is about 430 km from Bengaluru.
Besides transferring Deputy Superintendent of Police, Dharwad Rural and suspending Navalgund circle Inspector, Parameshwara directed Additional Director General of Police Kamal Pant to inquire into the incident and submit the report in a week.
“I have also told police not to file cases against women, senior citizens and children but against those who torched government offices and damaged public property,” he said,
The caning on women and children sparked an outrage across the state, with demand for action against the policemen who rained blows on women, elderly people and children participating in the shutdown.
One of the videos showed police first thrashing farmers who courted arrest at Navalgund and assaulting even aged women and their children to tell where rioters were hiding.
Farmers associations, Kannada organisations and opposition parties condemned the assault and sought stringent action on the guilty policemen.
Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjuna Kharge, who is a parliamentarian from the state, also sought action against the accused policemen.
“The decade-long agitation for the drinking water project is an emotional issue for about 10 million people of the drought-prone region. The government and police should show utmost restraint when dealing with the affected people and the guilty should be punished,” Kharge said in a statement from New Delhi.
A three-member tribunal, headed by Justice J.N. Panchal, on Wednesday rejected the state’s petition for releasing 7.6 thousand million cubic feet of the river water for its proposed dam on various grounds, including ecological damage the project may cause to the bio-diverse Western Ghats.
The dam, being built across the Kalasa-Banduri tributaries in the Malabrahai basin, is meant to improve water supply to four districts.
As the 77 km-long Mahadayi flows into Goa from Karnataka before draining into the Arabian Sea, the former has been objecting over sharing its water, as 52 km of its river is in its territory and a lifeline for its people.