The Bengaluru City Police have been in firefighting mode since Monday afternoon as anger over the Cauvery issue spilled onto Bengaluru’s streets in the form of arson and damage to vehicles and property identified as owned by Tamilians.
Although the police and the government claimed that the situation was under control, by late evening, the situation in some parts of the city escalated, with 45 buses of KPN Travels being burnt in a depot in Nayandahalli and one person being killed and two policemen injured in police firing in Rajagopalnagar. By the evening, despite earlier denials, the Bengaluru City Police finally issued prohibitory orders Section 144, and also imposed curfew in 16 areas of the city. The police also reportedly banned the sale of alcohol for three days.
One of the crucial factors being identified in the spread of violence on Monday is the spread of rumours and misinformation on mainstream and social media. One such flashpoint being identified by police and media is the spread of images and video of a van bearing Karnataka registration plates being damaged, and the driver being assaulted.
Throughout the day on Monday, the police repeatedly took to social media to warn citizens against believing rumours being circulated on social media. They also asked the city’s residents to report incidents of vandalism and violence and assured the public that strict action would be taken on vandals.
On Monday, the Bengaluru City Police stepped up their social media engagement with the city’s residents, asking for crowd-sourced images of vandals who attacked people and property based on which action could be taken against them. In its tweet, the police asked for images to be sent to the @BlrCityPolice and @CPBlr Twitter handles, and also provided a phone number (9480801000) that could be contacted for this purpose.