Karnataka

Kalaburagi bandh against rape-murder total

The Central Bus Stand in Kalaburagi wore a deserted look on Thursday as buses remained off road due to the bandh.

The Central Bus Stand in Kalaburagi wore a deserted look on Thursday as buses remained off road due to the bandh.  

Condemning the recent rape and murder of a minor Dalit girl in Vijayapura, Kalaburagi observed a total bandh on Thursday. As the bandh call given by Dalit Sanghatanegala Samanvaya Samithi, a coordinating committee of various Dalit groups, was widely publicised for about a week, the city had prepared for a total shutdown.

The voluntary support from several organisations representing people from different walks of life — Dalits, labour, farmers, women, students, pro-Kannada activists, Muslim, Lingayat and other communities — and their participation in the agitation made the bandh total. While Bharatiya Janata Party apparently distanced itself from the protest, the district unit of the Congress, with its rank and file, was on the street supporting the agitation.

Shops, malls, cinemas, garages, trading units at the agricultural produce market committee yards, banks and other business establishments remained closed since morning. Even roadside petty shops in remote locations and pushcart vendors did not do business. While private educational institutions declared holiday a day before, those run by the government too remained closed even though a holiday was not officially declared. An examination for the first semester of the third year law course scheduled for the day was cancelled at eleventh hour by Gulbarga University.

“After discussing with Deputy Commissioner, we decided not to declare holiday officially but to leave the matter to institution heads to take a final call depending on the situation. However, we don’t know how many schools have declared holiday at present. But, the fact is that most of the institutions are not open as the city witnessed widespread protest affecting public transportation,” Shantanagowda Patil, Deputy Director for Public Instruction, told The Hindu.

The public transport system remained affected since morning as buses operated by State-owned North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation and city commuting services such as autorickshaws and taxis operated by private players went off the road.

Agitating activists associated with various Dalit and progressive organisations were found staging demonstrations simultaneously at multiple locations, including SVP Circle, Jagat Circle, Supermarket, APMC Yard, Bus Stand, Dargah Road and Jevargi Road. Other activists, dividing themselves into smaller groups, took out bike rallies in different areas holding blue flags and raising slogans.

Though all government offices were open, they witnessed thin attendance as many of the staff members were stranded on their way, due to agitations. Some of those who used two-wheelers managed to reach their offices. With no business activity and scanty vehicular movement, the city wore a deserted look.

All the agitating groups converged near Nagareshwar School at 1 p.m. and marched in procession through major streets waving flags, playing traditional drums and raising slogans before culminating at the district administrative complex. A memorandum, with a set of demands, was then submitted to the office of the Deputy Commissioner. The demands included stringent punishment to the perpetrators of the crime, removal of all officers, including Superintendent of Police, Block Education Officer and Deputy Director of Public Instruction in Vijayapura district from service for not preventing the crime and their alleged attempts to protect the accused, and cancellation of permission of the school which had no minimum amenities such as toilets forcing the poor girl to go out for relieving herself and falling prey to criminals.

“No untoward incident was reported. Adequate police force was deployed to maintain law and order,” Deputy Commissioner R. Venkatesh Kumar said.

“The response to the bandh call was overwhelming. Several organisations and individuals have voluntarily joined the agitation. Business establishments, educational institutions and public transport operators have willingly closed their business to express solidarity with the cause. We will continue to protest even after the bandh till we get justice,” said district president of Dalit Sene Nagendra J. Javali, who was among those who led Thursday’s agitation.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 1:32:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/kalaburagi-bandh-against-rape-murder-total/article22321135.ece

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