Barring stray stone-throwing and small fires, the Karnataka bandh was peaceful
The dawn-to-dusk bandh called by pro-Kannada outfits over the Cauvery water dispute had full impact, with the entire city shutting down, and Bangaloreans opting to stay indoors till late evening.
Schools and colleges, shops and commercial establishments, and offices were all closed. Barring sporadic instances of stone pelting, activists enforcing the bandh by stopping commuters and deflating their tyres, burning effigies and setting off small fires with tyres in some parts of the city, the day passed off peacefully.
Over 30 BMTC buses were damaged when protesters pelted stones when they plied. A few more were stopped soon after BMTC started a skeletal service in the morning to ferry passengers who landed in Majestic from different parts of the city. Stone-throwing at buses was reported from Malleswaram, Silk Board junction, KHB Colony, Magadi Road and Nataraj theatre area.
Sensing trouble, BMTC pulled back the service to avoid aggravating the situation, as a result of which the roads wore a deserted look, barring stray private vehicles and those belonging to pro-Kannada organisations enforcing the bandh.
Additional Commissioner of Police T. Suneel Kumar said that over 100 persons were taken into preventive custody.
Sounds of drumbeats and small rallies echoed through the empty streets, particularly in the central business district, even as members of the Kannada Okkoota, the umbrella organisation that called for the bandh, took out protest rallies. About 50 members, led by Vatal Nagaraj of the Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha, were detained early morning for protesting near Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar’s residence.
Activists warned of another bandh and a ‘jail bharo’ after Monday, when the verdict of the Supreme Court on the dispute is due.
Police also detained more than 25 others for protesting outside External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s residence in Sadashivnagar.
Protests began early Saturday, with bike rallies and effigies and tyres being burnt on several roads.
Groups that blocked vehicles on several key roads warned those who dared to commute.
They threatened taxis and autorickshaws that had ventured out and deflated tyres of many yellow board vehicles, eyewitnesses said. Such incidents were reported from Hosur Road, Mehkri Circle and Yelahanka.
Stones were pelted at a few shops in Govindarajanagar in west Bangalore that were open in the morning.
A chaat vendor was chased and his belongings thrown on to the road near the Vidyapeetha Circle.
Residents across the city said they not only had milk and newspapers delivered to their homes but even had the garbage cleared by pourakarmikas in the morning. Many remained glued to news channels as cable television operators had blocked all entertainment channels. However, those with satellite and DTH connections had no such deprivation.
The roads were empty till 7 p.m. after which traffic picked up in several parts of the city, particularly vehicles leaving the city.