Saturday’s bandh in Karnataka, called by organisations opposed to the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, disrupted inter-State transport services in Krishnagiri and Erode districts.
Activists of various outfits in Karnataka raised slogans against the Central and State Governments and some of them managed to cross the border at Hosur in Krishnagiri and burn tyres and effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
Only vehicles bearing Karnataka registration numbers, those carrying essential items and ambulances could make it to the other side.
Fearing violence, hundreds of vehicles bound for Bangalore or proceeding through that city to northern States were stopped by the district police at different points in Krishnagiri.
The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation buses did not operate services to the western Tamil Nadu. Even shuttle services to Hosur along the border were suspended. Very few private vehicles and taxis took the risk of proceeding to Karnataka.
At many places from Krishnagiri Toll Gate, police put up large banners that read: “Total bandh in Karnataka, hence vehicles will not be allowed to go beyond the border’’.
Heavy police pickets were posted at the border to prevent untoward incidents. State-run buses from Tamil Nadu were operated up to Hosur. Many passengers, who were unaware of the bandh, were stranded at the Hosur bus stand. Some of them paid were fleeced by private cabs with Karnataka registration for trips from the bus stand to Bangalore. A few others hired ambulances to get across the border.
About 400 cadres of Kannada Jagruti Vedike, Kannada Rakshana Vedike, Kannada Jagruti Vedike and Yuva Sena and some other pro-Kannada outfits burnt the tyres and effigies, police said.
In Erode, lorries and vans proceeding to Mysore and various others parts of Karnataka through Sathyamangalam and Aasanur were parked near the Bannari checkpost.
More than 100 vehicles were waiting to cross into Karnataka. Some of these were stranded at Bannari for seven days as their owners decided to operate them only after the tension in Karnataka eased.
C. Subramani (55), a truck driver said, he had been waiting at the border for the past six days. His truck was carrying chalk pieces from Dindigul to Mysore. “Unloading the chalk pieces will lead to huge wastage. So we have no option but to wait at the border,” he said.
As the lorry crew faced difficulties in getting food supplies, the authorities in the district arranged lunch at the Bannari Amman Temple. “Our food supplies ran out and we have very little money left. The authorities are helping us,” said T.Sankar, driver of a lorry that was carrying fire crackers from Sivakasi to Mysore.
The bandh affected the usual flow of tourists from Karnataka to the Nilgiris. Secretary of the Nilgiri Hotels and Restaurants Association N. Chandrashekar said people from Karnataka constituted 60 to 70 per cent of the weekend tourists. The hospitality sector depended on revenue from such people during off-season.
Traders said such inter-State issues affected the flow of tourists.
Sources in the plantation industry said the movement of tea to parts of the North India was also affected.
(with inputs from D. Radhakrishnan in Udhagamandalam)