Hogenakkal: Kannada stars hold protest

  Superstar Rajnikant, Kamal Hassan and many Kollywood film stars went on an eight-hour fast in Chennai on Friday to express solidarity with Tamil Nadu’s stand on the Hogenakkal water project and denounced the attacks on cinemas screening Tamil movies in Bangalore.

The presence of Rajnikant, a native of Karnataka who attained stardom in Tamil film industry, added fizz to the strong response from the film fraternity, which transcended linguistic differences and joined hands to condemn the attacks on cinemas, buses and Tamil newspapers published from Bangalore.

Besides Rajnikant other popular actors like Murali and Arjun, also hailing from Karnataka, joined the fast, which was held in a specially erected stage in Chepauk here where thousands of fans converged to have a glimpse of their stars and to hear their speeches denouncing the attacks.

Advocating caution and restraint, Rajnikant, in his brief comments to the media, said politicians should resolve the differences and find a solution to the Hogenakkal water project being built by Tamil Nadu in the border town of Hogenakkal.

”This is a sensitive national issue and concerns the sovereignty and integrity of the nation,” he said.

Several actors from Tamil film industry, including top Malayalam stars like Jayaram, addressed the gathering calling for restraint and understanding.

The star-studded fast, organised by South Indian Artistes’ Association, the Film chamber and the producers council, saw actors-turned-politicians Sarathkumar and Vijayakant, sharing the dais with Rajnikant and actress Shreya.

Vijayakant, without naming any party in Karnataka, said it was the elections which made these parties rake up the issue for political mileage.

”Why is this unnecessary fight over drinking water, which has even led to buses being damaged,” he said in an apparent reference to the violence in the two states.

Most of the speakers expressed fears that the opposition to the project could harm India’s sovereignty and integrity, echoing Chief Minister and DMK Karunanidhi comments at a function here on March 30.

Some speakers also called for immediate intervention of the Centre, with a view to maintaining the sovereignty and integrity of the nation.

The fast figured prominently in the state assembly, which extended its greetings and goodwill. Leader of the House and Finance Minister, K Anbazhagan, while responding to a request by Vijayakant, said the film industry was sending across a message to Karnataka by staging the peaceful protest.

The presence of starlets such as Trisha and Nayantara, two of the top heroines of Tamil cinema, added to the glamour quotient to the fast.

Police had a tough time controlling the crowd, as it continued to surge forward, braving the summer heat.

Deve Gowda seeks PM’s intervention

JDS chief HD Deve Gowda has requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to prevail upon Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi not to proceed with the Hogenakkal project till the Supreme Court gives its verdict on the issue.

The matter pertaining to Hogenakkal project is currently sub-judice with Karnataka Government approaching the Supreme Court on the issue.

In view of the above, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister ought to have maintained discretion and restraint and not proceeded with the project pending clearance from the apex court, Deve Gowda pointed out in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister.

He urged Singh to visit the project site with an all party Parliamentary delegation along with technical experts to assess the impact it (project) would have on the people of Karnataka.

Pending the visit, Deve Gowda appealed to him to prevail upon Karunanidhi to put on hold the project and not to make any ”provocative statements” that would aggravate the already volatile situation.

Describing the people of Tamil Nadu as ”our fellow Indian brethren”, the former prime minister said the people of Karnataka had nothing whatsover against them.

”Their only concern is that whatever scarce natural resources are they should be equitably shared by both.”

While suggesting construction of a storage dam as a solution to the long-pending dispute, Deve Gowda warned that any delay in intervention by the Union government would lead to ”chaos and anarchy”.

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