The all-India bandh brought the bustling metropolis to a halt

The city roads, normally bustling with traffic, were converted into playgrounds, while neighbourhood shops and commercial establishments remained closed. Most citizens chose to stay indoors. This was the effect of Bharat bandh in Bangalore on Thursday.

The city’s Central Business District wore a deserted look, as most shopkeepers had voluntarily downed their shutters. With sparse traffic on the roads, even traffic signals remained switched off.

Brigade Road, another commercial centre, was deserted. Police personnel were deployed in large numbers in the commercial areas of the city to prevent any untoward incident.

Malls

Even shopping malls across the city remained closed. Security personnel had been deployed in large numbers at these malls. Garuda mall was cordoned off and placards that read ‘Mall is closed today’ were placed around the area. The Collective, UB city, and Mantri Square in Malleswaram were both covered with a huge net to protect the glass facade. Security personnel were seen informing visitors that the malls were closed for the day. At Mantri Square, notices that read “Mall will open after 6 p.m.” were put up.

Multiplexes and single-screen theatres across the city had cancelled all shows since there were no visitors. Most theatres in the Majestic area, known as the seat of the Kannada film industry, cancelled all shows on Friday morning, owing to poor visitor inflow.

Earlier in the day, Bharatiya Janata Party workers were seen going around different areas in the city convincing shopkeepers to down the shutters and make the bandh a success. The former Mayor S.K. Nataraj went around his ward (Sarakki) on a two-wheeler, along with his supporters, requesting shopkeepers to shut down their shops.

He told reporters that he would personally urge people to make the bandh total by requesting them to close their shops and offices.

However, in many areas, pharmacies were allowed to open. Towards the second half of the day, some neighbourhood shops opened for business.

The Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee yard, saw no business as none of the shops were open. According to an APMC official, many staff members also abstained from work as there was inadequate bus service.

The official said that nearly 2,000 shops remained closed as traders and workers were opposed to the Union government’s decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail sector.

Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, president of Bangalore Wholesale Foodgrains and Pulses Merchants’ Association, told The Hindu that all the 1.5 lakh retailers in the city had participated in the bandh.

Admitting that the bandh was unwarranted, he said that the trading community was forced to resort to it due to the bad policies of the Union government.

“The State has lost revenue of around Rs. 1,200 crore, including Rs. 90 crore in the form of various taxes, due to the bandh. However, the traders had to participate in the bandh as it was the only democratic way to protest against FDI in retail,” he added.

Keywords: Bharat bandh