A coalition of Kannada organisations is adamant of the Karnataka bandh call on Saturday. This, even as Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday appealed to call off the bandh and threatened stringent action against anyone forcing businesses to close.
“There is no question of going back on the bandh call, when despite severe opposition from Kannada groups the State government has gone ahead and notified the Maratha Development Corporation. If the government doesn’t want a bandh, it should scrap the notification,” said Vatal Nagaraj, president, Kannada Okkoota. He claimed that thousands of organisations had supported the bandh call and it would be successful.
Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, which had shied away from supporting the bandh earlier, has now announced its support. T.A. Narayana Gowda has appealed to people to observe a voluntary bandh. KRV workers will protest at all taluk and DC’s offices, sources said.
However, the support for bandh has been mixed. Chandrashekhar Hebbar, president, Karnataka Regional Hotel and Restaurants’ Federation, has announced that all eateries would function as usual and were not supporting the bandh call. However, Tanveer Pasha, of Bengaluru Taxi and Auto Federation, said taxis and autorickshaws would be off the road on Saturday. Meanwhile, the State government is keen on keeping all public transport functioning as usual. Mr. Bommai has instructed the State police to take adequate security measures to ensure there is neither violence nor disruption of services, sources said.
Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant has directed the police force to heighten security and intensify patrolling. Mr. Pant held a meeting with senior police officers to discuss the security measures on Thursday. Senior officers of all the divisions have been directed to take up measures to ensure law and order in their jurisdictions. The police have been asked to monitor the movements of habitual offenders.
As many as 15,000 policemen, along with 30 KSRP and 20 CAR platoons, have been deployed to handle the situation. No Kannada activists have taken permission from the police so far and if they force anyone to get involved or try to close shops or commercial establishments, they will face strict action, sources said.