Who would have thought that Section 144 — already one of the most notorious and contentious relics of our Victorian criminal justice system — would play a starring role in the drought theatre taking centre stage on prime time? In most parched districts across Maharashtra, the state government has imposed the unlawful assembly rule in order to prevent heated battles over water. Talegaon is one of the affected districts, with most land and water bodies — like the pond in this picture — having dried out. With increasing reports of people collapsing due to the heat, the only relief for the Marathwada region in the southeast currently comes from the water trains that are lugging this liquid gold across the vast state to Latur. A joint operation by the railways and the state, these Jaldoots [water messengers] currently transport lakhs of litres almost every day from the closest water surplus regions in an operation that costs 280,000 for every 10-wagon train. Perhaps that’s a small price to pay for the cruellest summer in recent years.