Near total bandh was observed in Gulbarga city on Friday in support of 470 plus pourakarmikas of the Gulbarga City Corporation who are on indefinite fast demanding immediate release of their 35-month pending wages. The former Minister S.K. Kanta is leading the agitation.

The organisers of the bandh, which included many Kannada organisations, Dalit organisations and heads of a few religious maths, there was no was force on the business establishments and hotels to close their establishments, and everybody's support for the bandh call appeared voluntary.

Though the police had assured people of full protection during the bandh, most business establishments remained closed. Only a few autorickshaws were seen plying on the roads but almost all shops in the city remain closed. The North Eastern Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC) also did not operate the city services.

The NEKRTC, however, operated the mofussil and long distance services as usual after the police assured the corporation that security would be tightened. However, the private operators plying on long distance routes kept their vehicles off the road.

Braving scorching sun, hundreds of people, including many women, led by Sri Mahanta Shivacharyaru of the Sulpul Math, Sri Rajashekar Shivacharyaru, Guru Mahanta Shivacharyaru of the Hiremath at Pala, Shivanda Swamigalu of Sonna Dasoha Math, Gangadhar Swamigalu of Chowdapur Math, Kanchi Basava Shivacharyaru of Roza Math, battery of Congress leaders including DCC president Allamprabhu Patil, MLC, the former Mayor Chandrika Parameshwar, zilla panchayat member Ambaraya Ashtagi, the former president of the HKCCI Umakant Nigudgi, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike president Arunkumar Patil, Hyderabad Karnataka Janapara Sangarsh Samiti Laxman Dasti and others marched from the Super Market to the Deputy Commissioner's office to register their protest against the insensitive and indifferent attitude of the Government to the genuine demands of the pourakarmikas.

The protesters raised slogans against the State Government and the police for arresting nearly 70 Dalits after an incident in which stones were thrown at the police personnel at Tarfail slum. They alleged that the police tried to intimidate religious leaders and pressured them to withdraw the bandh call and had issued notices to them saying that if there was any untoward incident during the bandh they would be held responsible for it.

Incidentally, this is for the first time that the police had slapped notices on the organisers of the bandh citing the Supreme Court ruling holding the organisers of the bandh responsible if any untoward incident occurred during the bandh period. Notices were also served to Mr. Kanta. Neither had the swamijis nor Mr. Kanta accepted the notices and the police personnel had pasted the notices on the doors of the religious math and at the venue where Mr. Kanta was on hunger strike.

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