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Karnataka bandh halts normal life, peaceful

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on January 25, 2018

The bandh was near-total in Bengaluru, were public transport remained off the roads, commuters were stranded and shops and offices remained closed   -  SOMASHEKAR GRN

Shutdown observed to draw attention to row over sharing of Mahadayi waters with Goa

A Karnataka bandh, called to draw national attention to the State’s water-sharing row with Goa, was peaceful, but crippled normal life in many parts of the State.

Bandh was near-total in the northern Karnataka districts of Belagavi, Dharwad, Bagalkot, Vijayapura and Gadag, while the State capital Bengaluru, Mysuru and Mandya districts also supported the cause. Coastal districts such as Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Uttara Kannada and parts of the Hyderabad region remained largely unaffected.

A total of 170 Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) battalions, 220 platoons of the City Armed Reserve (CAR), and 63,000 policemen were deployed across the State to prevent any untoward incidents. Bengaluru also saw the deployment of over 15,000 police personnel, 50 platoons of KSRP and CAR.

Earlier in the day, a few protesters attempted to stop rail services at the busy KSR Railway Station by occupying the rail tracks. However, police detained the protesters within a few minutes and services resumed after a minor delay.

In Bengaluru, buses went off the roads and shops were shut in central areas. Buses belonging to the State-run KSRTC and BMTC completely withdrew services in the morning, only to resume them after 6 pm.

Passengers at the Kempegowda International Airport were serviced by cab aggregators, as Flybus and BMTC services were inoperational.

In the morning, members of pro-Kannada organisation Karnataka Rakshana Vedike took out a procession on the ring road, which houses major IT companies.

Around noon, protesters gathered at Town Hall and took out a long march to Freedom Park. Along the route, smaller shops on the Avenue Road, BVK Iyengar Road and KG Road were forcibly closed.

Several IT companies, including Infosys, remained closed. Some companies had asked their employees to work from home. Tech parks wore a deserted look. The city police had ensured ample security for them.

Political blame-game

Though the Congress claimed it had no role with regard to the bandh call, principal Opposition BJP called it “politically motivated” and timed to stall its president Amit Shah’s rally in Mysuru.

In the Malaprabha area, protests began early in Dharwad and Gadag districts that come under the Malaprabha Command Area. The bandh was total in both districts.

Naragund in Gadag district, the epicentre of the Mahadayi agitation, remained completely shut. Here, protests were held against Union Minister DV Sadananda Gowda for his reported remarks asking people not to participate in the Mahadayi agitation. Protesters belonging to various pro-Kannada organisations staged demonstrations and took out protest marches.

Navalgund in Dharwad, where an indefinite agitation is going on, also witnessed a complete shut-down. In Gadag, protesters staged a demonstration outside the office of Haveri MP and BJP leader Shivakumar Udasi. However, Haveri district witnessed a lukewarm response to the bandh call. While long-route buses were off the roads, moffusil services were available.

In Hubballi, Dharwad city bus services were suspended and very few auto-rickshaws were available. The bandh call evoked a good response. The city wore a deserted look as buses remained off the roads and business establishments remained closed. Educational institutions did not function as the district administration had declared a holiday.

Published on January 25, 2018

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