Cauvery water dispute: 2016 video shared to claim Tamilian lorry driver attacked in Karnataka

By: Ankita Kulkarni
September 28 2023

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Cauvery water dispute: 2016 video shared to claim Tamilian lorry driver attacked in Karnataka

Social media posts claiming a Tamil lorry driver was attacked in Karnataka during the recent protest held over the Cauvery water dispute (Source: X/Facebook/Screenshots/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Misleading

The video is not from the recent protests. It shows a pro-Kannada mob assaulting a Tamil driver in 2016 over the long-standing Cauvery water dispute.

Claim ID 5a58f15c

(Trigger Warning: This story contains descriptions of distressing visuals, and mentions of verbal and physical assault. Reader discretion is advised.)

A general statewide daylong strike will be observed in the south Indian state of Karnataka on Friday, September 29. The strike, called by farmer groups and pro-Kannada groups, will follow the strike observed in the capital city of Bengaluru on September 26. The call for the strikes is part of the protests organized to oppose the release of water from the Cauvery River to the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu. Hindustan Times reported that the strike is supported by more than 175 organizations across Karnataka—where the Congress party (part of the nationwide INDIA opposition bloc) came to power earlier this year.

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have been in a long-standing dispute over the distribution of Cauvery water, with both states demanding a greater share. Over the years, several protests have been held in both states over Cauvery—the main source of drinking water for Bengaluru and irrigation in the Mandya region in Karnataka. While a Supreme Court judgment in 2018 had seemed to settle the dispute, low rainfall in the Cauvery’s catchment areas in Karnataka this year, resulting in lesser water being released to Tamil Nadu, has flared up the issue once again.

What is the claim?

Amid this backdrop, a video of an older man being assaulted by a group of Kannada-speaking people is circulating on social media. In the video, the mob forces the old man to say, “Cauvery is ours” in Kannada. The video is being shared with the claim that Tamil lorry drivers are being beaten up by protestors in Karnataka in areas bordering Tamil Nadu.

Sharing the video, one user on Faceboook wrote, “As soon as Congress came to power in Karnataka, Tamilan people started getting beaten up. Tamil traitors, you worked hard to remove the BJP government, which was honest and safe for Tamils to come to power? Look at the status of Bangalore today. Missionary I. N. D. I. A. The gift given to Tamil Nadu before the coalition elections (sic) (roughly translated from Tamil).” The video is also doing the rounds on X with a similar narrative, stating that it shows scenes from the recent protests held in Bengaluru over the Cauvery water dispute. One such X post can be viewed here.

Archived links of other posts making the same claim can be viewed here and here.

Screenshot of posts circulating online. (Source: Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

Although the viral video was captured in the aftermath of the Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, it is an old video from 2016.

What are the facts?

On conducting a reverse image search using a screenshot from the viral clip, we came across a video report uploaded on September 13, 2016, by News18 Tamil Nadu, a Tamil Nadu-based regional media outlet. Starting from the 0:11 timestamp, we can see the same viral clip of an old man being harassed on a road. The video title read, “Cauvery Issue: Tamil Nadu lorry driver attacked by pro-Kannada outfits.” Originally written in Tamil, the YouTube video description read, “Violent attack on Tamil truck driver in Karnataka.” 

Comparison between the viral video and a 2016 video report by News18 Tamil Nadu. 
(Source: Facebook/YouTube/Screenshot)

We found another video report on the same incident posted on YouTube by Puthiyathalaimurai TV, another Tamil Nadu-based local news outlet. Nearly 63 seconds into the video, exact visuals from the viral clip can be seen. Shared on September 13, 2016, this YouTube video was titled, “Cauvery issue: TN lorry drivers brutally attacked by Kannadigas near border.”

Subsequently, we also came across an interview of the lorry driver uploaded on YouTube by Thanthi TV, a regional media house based in Tamil Nadu, on September 15, 2016. The man identified himself as Solaimuthu. In the interview, he said, “I was stopped near Kamachi Palam (area), and protestors vandalized my lorry and took all my money. None of the onlookers came to my rescue. The protestors also attacked one more person, and his lorry was set on fire. They also came to destroy my vehicle, but I somehow escaped with the truck and reached my hometown (sic) (translated from Tamil).” The video caption read, “Kannadigas attacked me brutally, demanded to speak Kannada - Solaimuthu, TN Lorry Driver.”

A fact-check was also published by Karnataka State Police, clarifying that the viral clip shows an old incident. 

Through further research, we could infer that the video went viral in 2016 when a series of protests were held in Karnataka in the aftermath of the Cauvery water dispute. According to a report by The Times of India, the protests had turned violent following the Supreme Court order to release 12,000 cusecs of water every day to Tamil Nadu till September 20, 2016.

However, the video now in question is unrelated to the recent protests in Bengaluru.

The verdict

A video from 2016 is being shared to claim a lorry driver was attacked in Karnataka recently. Although the incident captured in the video did take place in the aftermath of the Cauvery water dispute, it is not recent. Therefore, we mark the claim misleading. 

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