Largely peaceful and no targeted violence
Air and train services affectedMixed response in the State
BANGALORE: The State-wide bandh on Monday against the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal was total in Bangalore, Mysore and the entire Cauvery basin area.
Called by the Kannada Rakshana Vedike and other pro-Kannada groups, and supported by at least 30 other organisations representing farmers, government and private employees, the protest was largely peaceful, with no incident of targeted violence against any section. This presented a contrast to the December 1991 bandh, called against the interim order of the Tribunal, which snowballed into sectarian violence.
Monday's bandh call received a mixed response across the State reflecting the economic and political importance of the issue for different regions. It was partial in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, almost total in Bellary, Davangere and the twin cities of Hubli-Dharwad, and poor in the coastal districts.
Bangalore, however, was the focus of the bandh organisers. The fast-paced city with its eight million population came to a standstill for 12 hours. With all modes of transport off the road, business establishments from the large IT companies to corner shops shutting down, educational institutions declaring a holiday and residents staying indoors, the response to the bandh call was total. Air and train services were also affected.
Mysore saw the worst incident of bandh-related violence when a mob burnt a dozen vehicles of workers who had reported for duty at the Railway Workshop. The action was sparked by the refusal of authorities to keep the workshop closed.
Although the Railways did not cancel services, the arrival and departure of trains were affected following a `rail roko.' In the early hours of the day, pro-Kannada activists stormed the city railway station several times, stopping the Thanjavur Express and disrupting the movement of other trains at smaller city stations.
Although the IT sector, including majors such as Infosys and Wipro, declared a holiday, the BPO sector which functions round-the-clock made special arrangements to keep operations going. The agitators targeted the BPO unit of ICICI at 7 a.m., ransacking the office. At other places vehicles carrying BPO employees were stopped and tyres deflated.
The security blanket over the city helped prevent violence. Ban orders were imposed and 20,000 police personnel kept vigil.