(Eds; rpting after adding word in 2nd para) Tiruchirapalli (TN), Apr 6 (PTI) Buried neck deep in the dry river bed with rose garlands, a group of farmers today chose the novel protest to symbolically highlight their plight and demand setting up of the Cauvery Management Board.

Choosing the Cauvery river bank in the temple town of Srirangam here RPT here, encircled by the river Cauvery and its tributary Kollidam in the heart of the delta region for the protest, the farmers led by P Ayyakannu staged the ‘burial protest’ for nearly two hours.

Later they were removed by police persoonel with the help of volunteers.

Tense moments prevailed for some time when a group of about 50 farmers earlier arrived at the venue raising slogans, demanding immedaite constitution of the CMB.

When all of them tried to bury themselves, police personnel prevented them from doing so and allowed only 17 of them to stage the protest.

They immediately dug a pit and covered themselves with sand and raised slogans against the Centre for not setting up the CMB, despite the directive of the Supreme Court.

73-year-old Ayakannu, known for his macabre protests like eating rats to draw attention to farmers’ problems, told PTI “we will wait upto April 9. we trust we will get justice.” The Apex Court is scheduled to hear the petitions of Tamil Nadu and the centre over formation of CMB on that date.

On his next action plan, Ayyakannu, president of National South Indian Rivers Inter-Linking Farmers Association, said “we have no other option, but to follow the gandhian path and inflict harm on ourselves….”

Ayyakannu had spearhead a protest by farmers at Jantar Mantar in Delhi last year, demanding a drought relief package of Rs 40,000 crore from the Centre and farm loan waiver.

Meanwhile, a group of college students held an agitation beside a reservoir, near Thanjavur, demanding constitution of CMB.

The issue of setting up the CMB has rocked Tamil Nadu over the past few days, with ruling AIADMK and opposition DMK trading charges against each other.

The ruling AIADMK dispensation, led by Chief Minister K Palaniswamy and his deputy O Paneerselvam had observed a hunger strike on April 4 while the DMK led opposition parties’ had observed a state wide bandh yesterday.

The bandh was by and large peaceful and near total in Tamil Nadu, barring some stone-pelting incidents.

DMK leader M K Stalin had accused the AIADMK regime of being “subservient” to the Centre and said the state should pressure the Centre to withdraw its plea in the Supreme Court.

The Centre has submitted a petition, seeking ‘clarification’ on a scheme for implementing the top court’s verdict over allocation of Cauvery water among riparian states.

The Tamil Nadu government had sought contempt action against the Centre for “failure” to frame the scheme.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.