Normal life in the city and most parts of the state was affected today by the dawn-to-dusk Karnataka bandh called by pro-Kannada outfits, to protest against the Supreme Court’s direction to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
A few activists of pro-Kannada organisations who tried to enter the departure terminal of the Kempegowda International Airport and the railway station here were stopped and detained by the police.
Transport services have been hit with government buses staying off the roads while auto-rickshaw and cab unions have extended their support to the bandh. Metro services in the country’s IT hub have also been halted.
People who reached the city from distant places and those travelling towards the airport are facing difficulties in reaching their destination with no mode of connectivity. Educational institutions have declared a holiday today. Attendance at government offices was comparatively less today as officials had informed that it will not be “compulsory” to work today. While some private companies have declared a holiday today, others are making alternate arrangements for employees to “work from home”.
Petrol bunks, hotels, malls and other commercial establishments remained shut, besides banks services were also hit. Karnataka Cable Operators Association which is supporting the strike has said Tamil TV channels will not be aired.
The bandh has evoked a positive response from various parts of the state including Mandya, Mysuru, Ballari, Koppala, Chikkaballapura, Dharwad and Kolar.
In Mandya, the epicenter of the Cauvery protests, agitators have blocked the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway at several places. A section of farmers in the district staged a protest by venturing into the river carrying stones on their head. In Ballari, three lorries bearing Tamil Nadu registrations were stoned by protesters.
The transgender community in the district also took part in the bandh related demonstrations.
Chief Minister Siddaramiah had appealed for peace and said no damage should be caused to public property during the bandh. Elaborate security arrangements have been made to maintain law and order in the state.
Extra forces have been deployed with two companies each from Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, one from Maharashtra and 10 companies of central forces, police said.
This is the second bandh that the state is bracing for in a week’s time and the fourth this year. Officials said with the bandh on the emotive Cauvery issue being supported by several organisations, unions and political parties, it was likely to be “total”.
Opposition parties of BJP and JD(S) have also lent support to the bandh.
The Cauvery row erupted after the Supreme Court on Monday directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs to Tamil Nadu for the next 10 days to address the plight of farmers there. Subsequently, on September 6, Karnataka released the Cauvery water amid snowballing protests by farmers.
The Karnataka government had also said it would approach the apex court seeking modification of its order because of the difficulties in implementing it, given that the live storage in four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin now was 46.7 TMC ft against their capacity of 104 TMC ft.