KARNATAKA

Lorry owner murdered as strike enters third day

BANGALORE JAN. 3. A truck owner was murdered in Kolar District, and protesters were arrested in Shimoga and Mysore as the transporters' strike entered the third day on Friday

The Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order), Subhash Bharani, told presspersons here that a truck owner from Mulbagal was attacked allegedly by supporters of the strike, and that he later died in hospital. He has been identified as Mehaboob Sab (45). The incident occurred while his truck was bringing firewood from Mulbagal to Bangalore on Thursday night.

The truck was intercepted on the outskirts of Kolar by four persons who followed it in a car.

The assailants allegedly attacked the driver of the truck for not supporting the strike, and later Mr. Sab when he intervened.

Mr. Bharani said 97 persons had been taken into custody in Shimoga when they attempted to obstruct unloading of rice being transported by the Food Corporation of India at the Railway Station. Seven persons were arrested in Mysore for obstructing the movement of goods vehicles, he added.

The ADGP said that strict vigil was being maintained in the State and the district authorities had been directed to act tough against trouble-makers.

Meanwhile, the Transport Commissioner, T. Thimme Gowda, claimed that transportation of industrial goods had only been partially affected in the State. Supply of essential commodities had not been affected in any part of the State, including Bangalore, he added.

The supply of essential commodities in Bangalore was normal. The President of the Vegetable Merchants' Association, R.V.Gopi, said that people were not much affected.

He said that the Deputy Commissioner (Bangalore Rural), Narayanaswamy, who is also the Administrator of the Special Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee for Vegetables and Fruits, held a meeting with the association and others on Friday. He said the association's request for police protection to vehicles transporting vegetables had been met.

The association would get four vehicles and police protection on Saturday, Mr. Gopi said and added that the needs of Bangalore City were being met now.

However, supplies to places outside the State had been affected, he said. Mr. Gopi appealed to truckers to allow transportation of vegetables and fruits in the interests of farmers and the public.

The Bangalore City Lorry Transporting Agents' Association has stated that the State Government has resorted to oppressive measures to derail the strike.

In a statement, the association secretary, G.R. Shanmugappa, said that the police had arrested office-bearers of transport operators association in Shimoga and some transport operators in Kamakshipalya in Bangalore.

He said that if the Government continued with its "oppressive" measures, the operators would launch a `jail bharo' agitation.

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