The call for nation-wide shutdown given by non-UPA parties evoked a good response in Bangalore, capital of BJP-ruled Karnataka.
Most schools and colleges remained closed on Thursday - State goverment officials declared a holiday for schools in Bangalore - while shops and commercial establishments in the commercial centres of the city downed their shutters.
Traffic was sparse on the roads. State-owned BMTC buses, autos and cabs did not ply in many parts of the City
Even malls across the city remained closed. Security personnel had been posted in large numbers at these malls. Garuda Mall was cordoned off and placards that read 'Mall is closed today' were placed around the mall. The Collective, UB City, was covered with a huge net to protect the glass facade. Security personnel were seen informing visitors that the mall was closed for the day.
The Central Business District wore a deserted look. The area that usually sees heavy vehicular traffic was eerily quiet, with no traffic. Brigade Road, a commercial centre, wore a deserted look as shopkeepers had voluntarily downed their shutters. Police personnel were deployed in large numbers at Brigade Road to prevent any untoward incident.
Mysore Bank Circle in the city was a hot spot for protests. Members of BJP, JD(S) and Kannada organisations staged protests here.
With sparse traffic, even the traffic signals remained switched off. With most vehicles off roads, these protests fortunately did not affect traffic.
Shops in parts of the City like Vijaynagar, Nagarbhavi and Kengeri were open in the morning, but closed by noon. Medical shops and hospitals are however open.
Former mayor S K Nataraj from the BJP went around his ward (Sarakki) on a two-wheeler along with his supporters asking shopkeepers to down their shutters and cooperate with the bandh called to protest against increase in price of essential commodities, especially petrol and diesel.
He told reporters that he would urge people to make the bandh total by personally requesting them to close their shops, offices.
Theatres too remained closed and film shooting came to a grinding halt.
Schools and colleges
Almost all schools and colleges were closed on Thursday because of the Bharath bandh. Most schools and colleges that were scheduled to start their mid-term examinations have postponed the exams.
Bindu Jayakumar, teacher of Carmel High school said, “We were in a dilemma whether to announce a holiday since the exam schedule would be affected. However we decided to declare a holiday as the safety of the students is our main concern.”
She added that private auto and van drivers that ferry students to school refused to ply the vehicles and the management was forced to take the decision.
Thursday's holiday for colleges in the city comes close on the heels of two days of closure earlier last week due to the BMTC strike. Students and teachers say that the academic schedule may get affected because of this.
Kruthi Suresh, a student of Mount Carmel College said, “Colleges that follow semester scheme will be affected as the semester is short. Our portions have to be completed and it is the end of the semester. But there is no time and we are working on a tight schedule,”
A student of the R V College of Engineering added that students will be asked to attend classes on Saturday as well Sunday to attend classes as the teachers will have to finish portions.
Many software companies had closed for the day. Ambarish Karanth from TCS said employees have been told to work on Saturday instead.
Attendance in govt offices in Bangalore was reported to be very thin in view of the bandh.
Vidhana Soudha, the State Secretariat, wore a deserted look.
The proceedings in the Karnataka High Court in Bangalore is near normal with almost all court halls functioning as usual though there is a slight decline in number of advocates attending the courts.
State Bank of India and State Bank of Mysore branches functioned normally in Bangalore on Thursday. However, employees dependent on public transport could not make it and many branches had skeletal staff discharging their duties.
Similarly, the head offices of many PSU banks functioned normally while the branches had skeletal staff.
Production in public sector undertaking including BEML, BEL, BHEL, ITI and HAL was affected as workers could not make it to factories owing to the bandh, convener of Joint Action Front of public sector unions Prasanna Kumar said.
Since the issues for the bandh was also common, all the unions had supported the bandh, he said.
(With Inputs from Chitra V Ramani, S Bageshree, Tanu Kulkarni, Muralidhar Khajane, Anil Kumar Sastry, Deepika, Sharath S Srivatsa and Krishnaprasad)