Bengaluru: The Bengaluru bandh on Tuesday, September 26, called by farmers and pro-Kannada organisations and backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal (S) over the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu evoked a partial response, with most of the public services functioning normally, but fewer people than usual venturing out.
‘Karnataka Jala Samrakshana Samiti’, an umbrella outfit of farmers’ associations and other organisations led by Kuruburu Shanthakumar, had given the call for today’s dawn to dusk (6am to 6pm) shutdown.
Earlier in the day, Shanthakumar and other leaders of the Samiti were detained by the police at the Mysuru Bank circle, as they were trying to lead a protest march towards Town Hall. Several activists of pro-Kannada organisations were also whisked away.
Farmers’ leaders and pro-Kannada activists hit out at the government for allegedly using police force to curtail the protests and the bandh.
They later staged protests at Freedom Park, which is the only designated place for such demonstrations.
Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy met them and received a five-point memorandum. “I will bring them to the notice of the chief minister,” he said.
The memorandum includes demands that water is not released from Cauvery to Tamil Nadu, an election commission-like body be put together to assess things during distress years, Mekedatu project be implemented, and cases against farmers and pro-Kannada activists be withdrawn, he said.
The government is on the side of the farmers and is committed to protecting the interests of the state and its people, Reddy added.
City police have taken adequate security measures to respond to any violent situations that may happen during the protests. About 100 platoons have been deployed.
Bengaluru Police Commissioner B Dayananda said that prohibitory orders under section 144 will be in place across the city from midnight on Monday to midnight on Tuesday.
All schools and colleges in the city were shut. Though cab services, autos, and hotels/restaurants were seen operating, drivers and hotel operators said that not many people patronised the services.
Similar is the case with the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses and Metro rail services, as no regular rush was seen at bus and metro stations.
The Ola-Uber Drivers’ Association and Hotel Owners’ Association have said that their services will be normal today, but they have extended support for the September 29 Karnataka bandh.
Most private companies and firms, including those in the IT sector asked their employees to work from home. Most malls and cinema theatres remained shut, as were many shops and establishments.
The Bengaluru bandh was also in force in Malavalli in Mandya district, Ramanagara and a few other places.
BJP, JD(S) politicising Cauvery issue, says Karnataka CM
Accusing opposition BJP and JD(S) of politicising the Cauvery row, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday rejected allegations that his government has failed on the issue and said his administration has never lagged behind in protecting the interests of the state, its people and farmers.
“It is most unfortunate that BJP and JD(S) are potlicising the Cauvery issue. They are doing it for the sake of politics and not in the interest of the state or its people,” Siddaramaiah said in response to a question.
Speaking to reporters here, he said everyone has the right to protest and call for bandh in a democracy, but the court has restricted processions and bandh, and hence prohibitory orders under section 144 have been invoked, aimed at ensuring that nobody takes the law into their own hands and that the public are not put to any difficulty.
“Let them protest, we are not opposed to it. But the issue should not be politicised and used for political gains. It is not in the interest of the state,” he added.
To a question on BJP and JD(S) alleging that the government has failed to put forward its argument effectively in court, the CM pointed out that it is the same legal team engaged during their tenure that has been engaged now.
“Despite effective arguments, the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee and Management Authority has ordered us to release 5,000 cusecs (cubic feet of water per second) for 15 days. We will place our argument effectively next when the matter comes up before them,” he said.