Shops and business establishments in parts of Bangalore downed their shutters on Friday as pro-Kannada outfits took out a march in protest against release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
Police said that about 60 pro-Kannada activists had been detained in Bangalore north and west for forcibly closing shops in Sanjaynagar, Hebbal, Mysore Road, Vijaynagar Pipeline area and other localities in the morning.
Several shops downed their shutters in the Majestic and Okhlipuram areas fearing backlash from Kannada outfits that had appealed to shops and commercial establishments to support their agitation.
Besides the main rally by Karnataka Rakshana Vedike that began from National College Grounds in Basavangudi to Raj Bhavan, smaller rallies were taken out in neighbourhoods.
Friday's rallies in Bangalore come a day ahead of the Karnataka bandh on Saturday and in the midst of allegations of poor response to the agitation from residents of the State capital, who are also dependent on Cauvery to meet their drinking water requirements.
Protestors shouted slogans against the central government. Yuvaraju, a grocery shop owner, sat outside his shop in Majestic even as the shutters were down. He hopes to open his shop after the rally is over.
Meanwhile, huge traffic jams were found near KR Circle and roads leading to Freedom Park. The ripple effect of traffic jams in the central parts of Bangalore caused snarls on connecting roads due to which office-goers reached their workplaces late.
Traffic on Mysore Road was also disrupted as protestors took out a procession and burnt tyres on the streets.
Traffic police advised motorists to avoid Town Hall, NR square, Hudson Circle, KG Road, SBM Circle, Palace Road towards Basaveshwara Circle, Sheshadri Road - near Freedom Park, due to the procession. Commuters were advised by traffic police through SMS to use alternate roads.
Meanwhile, Kannada actor and former union minister Ambarish turned up at National College Grounds, from where the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike had planned to start a rally. Criticising the Centre for directing Karnataka to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, Mr. Ambarish called upon people to protest peacefully.
Barring some schools, most educational institutions in Bangalore functioned on Friday. The schools close to the route of the protest, such as Saraswati Vidya Mandir and the State syllabus branch of Kumarans, were shut. However, many schools have declared a holiday on Saturday, even though official machinery is yet to take a call on it.
Yeddyurappa sits in dharna
Former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who began a day-long dharna in protest against the Cauvery River Authority order, demanded that the Prime Minister withdraw the diktat without delaying even for a moment.
(With inputs from Imran Gowhar, Deepa Kurup, Deepika, Bageshree, Sudipto Mondal and PTI)