Normal life was disrupted in several areas of Karnataka on Thursday on the first day of the statewide shutdown by pro-Kannada outfits seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in Mahadayi river water dispute with Goa. The impact of the bandh was mainly experienced in the northern districts of the southern state as public services remained completely shut. The state will face bandh again on February 4.
Although, the frequency of cabs and auto rickshaws were very low in Bengaluru during the day, normalcy returned with the reopening of buses and shops in the evening. Seeking PM’s intervention on the ongoing river water dispute, Vatal Nagaraj, who heads ‘Kannada Okoota’, an organistaion of Kannada bodies which led the protest march from town hall to Freedom Park in Bengaluru, was quoted by PTI as saying, “Bandh has got very good response. Prime Minister should intervene. Until his intervention, we will conduct protests at different stages. Finally we will also stage protest in front of Parliament in Delhi.”
Earlier in the day, a group of protesters made an attempt to disrupt rail services by entering the Bengaluru’s Sangolli Rayanna railway station but were detained by the police. Protests were also staged in front of Manyata Embassy Business Park, a software technology park in the city, alleging that several IT companies inside were functioning as usual, evading the bandh call. The multiplexes and shopping malls in Bengaluru remained shut, while hospitals and clinics functioned normally, with Indian Medical Association office bearers stating they will be extending moral support by wearing a black band. A few hotels and eateries remained open during the bandh.
Incidents of stone throwing were also reported, as the organisers targeted shops that refused to close their shops. Taking note of the shutdown, several private schools and state run offices in most parts of the state had declared holiday.
Meanwhile, Amit Shah who was present in Mysuru today stated the shutdown as ‘politically motivated’ and accused the state government of calling satewide shutdown to prevent PM Modi’s rally on February 4. Addressing a rally in Mysuru on Thursday, Shah said, “Congress is in fear by BJP Karnataka’s Parivartana Yatre, that’s why they are trying to stop PM Modi’s rally on 4th February and calling for state shutdown.”
The leader added,”I dare Karnataka CM to stop BJP from forming next government here. BJP has started the Parivartana Yatre for not only to change the government but also to bring change in the lives of youth and to give security to the women of Karnataka. Siddaramaiah government has crossed all boundaries of corruption. In Karnataka, Siddaramaiah means corruption and corruption means Siddaramaiah.”
In order to improve drinking water supply to the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad and districts of Belagavi and Gadag, the state is seeking release of 7.56 tmcft water for the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project.
(With inputs from PTI)