Police promise action against coercion to shut down
On a day that saw widespread protests over the Cauvery waters dispute, leaders of pro-Kannada organisations raised the stakes by announcing that thousands of their supporters would take to the streets in Bangalore on Friday, a day ahead of the scheduled Karnataka bandh on Saturday.
Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) president T.A. Narayana Gowda told presspersons that his outfit “expects” residents of the city, particularly shops and commercial establishments, to support Friday’s agitation. With support from the Vokkaligara Sangha, the KRV has planned a rally from National College Grounds in Basavanagudi to the Raj Bhavan.
News organisations, including The Hindu, were flooded with calls from people wanting to know if the city would see a lockout on Friday. While dispelling rumours of a shutdown or bandh on Friday, Additional Commissioner of Police T. Suneel Kumar assured people that the police would crack down on unruly elements.
Schools in a dilemma
Nevertheless, the spate of protests planned on Friday left schools confused, many of which are holding midterm exams. They were in a dilemma over whether to declare a holiday.
Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri told The Hindu that it was up to the district administration to decide depending on the law and order situation.
The Cauvery agitations, which were largely restricted to the old Mysore region, with only a smattering of support in Bangalore, swept the State capital for the first time on Thursday.
Notably, organisations that do not have a pronounced pro-Kannada or pro-farmer slant too joined Thursday’s stir, including several Tamil organisations.
Waves of agitators, under various banners, attempted to force their way into the Raj Bhavan, protesting against the perceived silence of Governor H.R. Bhardwaj on the issue. While high drama prevailed in the central business district, groups of activists launched flash protests and blocked roads in far-flung areas such as Vimanapura and Electronics City.