February 5, 2007 / 6:25 AM / 12 years ago

Riot police guard Bangalore over India water dispute

BANGALORE, India, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Thousands of riot police fanned out across India’s technology hub of Bangalore on Monday ahead of a court ruling on a century-old water dispute which authorities fear could lead to a repeat of deadly 1991 riots.

Bangalore is capital of Karnataka, a southern state in dispute with neighbouring Tamil Nadu over access to water from their shared Cauvery river.

A 1991 interim court order telling Karnataka to release 205 billion cubic feet of water from Cauvery river to Tamil Nadu sparked riots against Tamils in Bangalore, a linguistic minority in the city, leaving more than 18 people dead.

"We will have anywhere between 16 thousand to 18 thousand policemen in sensitive areas of Bangalore to prevent any violence," Bangalore Police Commissioner Achyut Rao said.

Tamils form at least 25 per cent of Bangalore’s six million population.

The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, based in Delhi, is due to deliver its final verdict on Monday.

The Karnataka Tamils Federation has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and local officials to provide security to Tamils living in Bangalore and other parts of the Cauvery basin.

"Many Tamils suffered during the last riots. Police should instil confidence by taking preventive steps," Federation President A.P. Shanmuga Sundaram said.

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