Neighbourhood-level protests continue, some schools close

A massive rally taken out by pro-Kannada activists was largely successful in imposing a lockdown on Friday in the central business district of the city over the Cauvery issue.

The agitation was spearheaded by the T.A. Narayana Gowda faction of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike with support from the Vokkaligara Sangha and several seers from the Vokkaliga community.

Flagged off at the National College Grounds by the seer of the Adichunchanagiri Math, hundreds of vehicles, sporting the Kannada flag, accompanied by drumbeats and music, wound their way through J.C. Road, Hudson Circle and Mysore Bank Circle before culminating at Freedom Park.

Deserted look

The rally had an immediate impact on the otherwise crowded parts of the city such as J.C. Road, Chickpet-Balepet, B.V.K. Iyengar Road, Gandhinagar, V.V. Puram and Kalasipalya, which wore a deserted look. In fact, after the rush-hour traffic subsided, the main roads of the city too looked empty as motorists chose to stay away. The trend of autonomous, street and neighbourhood-level protests against sharing Cauvery waters with Tamil Nadu continued on Friday with an even larger number of such agitations reported from across the city.

As the KRV rally passed through J.C. Road, Hudson Circle, Mysore Bank Circle, Seshadri Road, motorbike-borne activists of the outfit darted into the neighbouring alleys and demanded that shop owners down shutters. While most of them waved Kannada flags as a warning to dissenting shop owners, some even wielded staves.

Mixed reactions

Vishal Makhija, the owner of a photo studio on Avenue Road, said the agitators were courteous and requested that he show solidarity with the Cauvery cause by shutting shop. However, Nagaraj Reddy, who owns a snack shop right opposite the photo studio, was furious. “Some men came on bikes and asked me to close down. When they realised that my Kannada is not very good, they began abusing me and threatened me.”

Police sources said about 60 pro-Kannada activists were detained in Bangalore north and west for forcibly closing shops in Sanjaynagar, Hebbal, Mysore Road, Vijayanagar pipeline area and other localities in the morning.

Some schools close

Barring some schools, most educational institutions in Bangalore functioned on Friday. Schools close to the route of the protest, such as Saraswati Vidya Mandir and the State syllabus branch of Kumarans, were shut.

Earlier, addressing the rally at the National College Grounds, actor-turned-politician M.H. Ambareesh criticised the Central government for its “insensitivity” towards the farmers of the Cauvery basin in the State. However, he asked the agitators to desist from violence.