A Bangalore bandh called for by pro-Kannada organizations to create awareness about the safety and security of women and to seek roll back of night life in Bangalore is expected to meet with partial success even though political parties and the Congress government in Karnataka are not openly supporting the bandh.
With the bandh also being an effort by pro Kannada organizations to prove that their support base is not dwindling in cosmopolitan Bangalore many old parts of the city are expected to shutter down in response to the bandh call. The newer parts of the city especially the information industry parks are scheduled to function normally and industry bodies have not evinced support for the bandh.
Public transport is likely to be affected especially autorickshaws since many auto-rickshaw drivers are members of the Kannada organizations. The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) which runs buses in the city has stated that it will be plying buses in the city but that the services would be withdrawn in the event of untoward happenings.
Taxi drivers are also expected to participate in the protest to some extent. Most private schools and colleges have declared themselves shut on Thursday on account of the bandh. There was however no official communication from the government about the closure of schools and colleges.
A section of the lawyers in Bangalore are supporting the bandh under the leadership of advocates association president K N Subbareddy. A general resolution has however not been passed by the advocates association for lawyers participation in the protests some functionaries of the association said.
The opposition BJP is expected to offer tacit support for the bandh in certain parts of the city contributing to shutdowns of commercial establishments. “We are not supporting the bandh but we have received requests for support at the individual level from Kannada groups who feel that this is an opportunity for a show of strength at a time when support is believed to be dwindling for the Kannada cause,” a local BJP leader said on the condition of anonymity.
The BJP has been the most vocal party in protesting against attacks on women in the recently concluded state legislature session. The BJP had also linked the recently extended deadline for night life in Bangalore on weekends from 11:30 pm to 1 am as one of the causes for growing incidents of sexual assaults on women.
The BJP has tacit interest in making the bandh a success since it has been demanding the resignation of the Congress home minister K J George over a series of attacks on women and children that have occurred in the city in the past month.
The other opposition party in Karnataka, the Janata Dal Secular is not scheduled to support the bandh with former prime minister and party president H D Deve Gowda set to hold a press luncheon on Thursday. “We are not supporting the bandh,” a JDS spokesperson said.
Many roads in the central part of Bangalore are expected to witness traffic blockades on Thursday morning when around 63 pro Kannada organizations lead by Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha leader Vatal Nagaraj takes out a procession from the Town Hall to the Freedom Park. While announcing the bandh last week Vatal Nagaraj had stated that only essential services would be allowed to function in the city on the day of the bandh.
The Bangalore city police have made extensive arrangements to prevent untoward incidents from occuring during the bandh. All policemen from the rank of police constable to Commissioner of Police will be on duty to maintain peace during the bandh, the Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Alok Kumar said.
Apart from the city police 50 platoons from the Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) and 24 platoons from the City Armed Reserve (CAR) will be deployed across the city during the dawn to dusk bandh. Two companies of Border Security Force (BSF) and 1000 home guards will also be on duty to ensure peace in the city. The police carried out flag marches at various places identified as sensitive on Wednesday evening.
“We carried out flag marches to send strong messages to miscreants against creating trouble during the bandh,” additional commissioner Alok Kumar said.
Alok Kumar said notices had been served on the leaders of the groups that had called for the bandh to maintain peace during the bandh. “We will take stringent action against the concerned persons if any untoward incidents take place on Thursday. We have told organisers of the bandh not to damage any property. We will collect the value of the damaged property from the leaders of the groups that called for the bandh as per the directions of the Supreme Court,” the police officer said.
The protestors had originally intended to take out a rally from Town Hall to the chief minister’s official residence but the city police denied permission for the protestors to traverse this route.