Karnataka bandh against water release to Tamil Nadu peaceful

The Cauvery basin districts and Karnataka’s capital Bangalore witnessed a complete shutdown on Saturday in response to the bandh called by the Kannada Okkoota, a federation of organisations, in protest against the release of Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu.

Barring sporadic incidents of violence, the bandh — which evoked mixed response in the northern and coastal districts — was largely peaceful. Interestingly, Kodagu district, the birthplace of the Cauvery, also witnessed a mixed response.

In Bangalore, shops and other business establishments closed while the city’s notoriously choked roads remained deserted for most part of the day with only a few private vehicles plying. Public transport came to a standstill after the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) withdrew services, stranding passengers, particularly those arriving by rail and air. Airport taxi services too were affected for a while.

Metro takes a break

Kannada activists stormed a financial sector BPO on Bannerghatta Road to forcibly shut it down. However, the employees told The Hindu that they resumed work later.

The metro, which began its services normally, suspended operations between 1 p.m. and 6 pm. Police apprehended some Kannada Rakshana Vedike activists who tried to disrupt the metro services in front of M.G. Road station.

Tyres were burnt at a number of junctions and main roads across the city by Kannada activists, who staged protests and raised slogans.

Chemists joined the bandh with at least 5,000 pharmacies remaining closed. Local courts did not function following a boycott by lawyers.

A large number of business establishments and residential buildings in neighbourhoods that have high concentration of Tamil-speaking people sported the red and yellow Kannada flag.

Stars too

In Bangalore, the film fraternity took out a procession, led by actor-turned-politician Ambareesh, from the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce to the Raj Bhavan showing solidarity. Scores of television artistes also joined in, and a memorandum was submitted to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj later.

Even though entertainment channels were blacked out, most residents preferred to remain indoors.

Routine life was also thrown out of gear in Mysore, Mandya and Chamarajanagar districts as well as in Kolar, Bellary, Davangere and Shimoga districts.

Wipro office attacked

In Mysore, some activists barged into a Wipro facility and damaged electronic equipment after they found some employees working. Several protests were staged and processions taken out by the Kannada activists across the State condemning the release of water.

South Western Railway cancelled three trains on the Mysore section, partially cancelled another two while one train was diverted. Autorickshaws and taxis did not ply in most of the southern districts.

Some 28 BMTC buses, and two KSRTC buses near Srirangapatna in Mandya district, were damaged in stone throwing.

Stray incidents

According to the Bangalore police, over 100 persons were taken into custody for disrupting traffic and forcibly shutting down shops in Bangalore.

“Barring stray incidents of stone pelting in the morning, the bandh was peaceful,” Additional Police Commissioner T. Suneel Kumar told presspersons.

Kannada Okkoota leader Vatal Nagaraj told The Hindu that the bandh was complete because of the support extended by various organisations.