Bandh over Cauvery: Mixed response in Bengaluru; Mandya fully shut down

Another statewide bandh called by farmer associations on September 29 expected to evoke bigger response  

By M Raghuram
Published: Tuesday 26 September 2023

A pro-Kannada activist protests during the Karnataka bandh on September 26. Photo: Rajath RA pro-Kannada activist protests during the Karnataka bandh on September 26. Photo: Rajath R

The September 26 bandh called in Karnataka to protest the sharing of Cauvery waters with Tamil Nadu, partially shut Bengaluru while other areas closed down fully.

Life in most of the state capital was near normal. But shops, schools, transport, and markets in cities like Mandya, Malavalli, and the KR Pete taluk were closed fearing violence during the bandh.

All areas in these places experienced processions, squatting on the roads, and several other forms of protest in response to the bandh call given by the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, along with its political ally Janata Dal (secular) Party.

At KR Pete, even advocates, journalists, and teachers joined the protest. In Mandya, farmers blocked the way to the Krishnaraja Sagara reservoir and had an argument with the police and officials of the reservoir.

Another group of farmers blocked the Mysuru-Bengaluru national highway. In towns like Malavalli, Ramanagaram, and Maddur, there were sporadic incidents. But on the whole, the situation was peaceful.

Darshan Puttanniah, a farmer leader and member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly from Malavalli, said he was happy that farmers were peaceful yet firm on their demands despite experiencing immense difficulties due to the government’s decision to release water to Tamil Nadu. “This was the best show of democratic values,” he added.

In Bengaluru, neighbourhoods like Malleshwaram, Rajajinagar, Vijaynagar, Byatarayanapura, KR Market, Binnypete, KempeGowda Road, KR Circle, Vidhana Soudha, Shivajinagar, Bengaluru Cantonment, and many areas around the core city experienced a partial bandh.

Two hundred people were arrested for trying to enter the Raj Bhavan (governor’s residence) on Raj Bhavan Road. They belonged to the Kannada activist associations of Bengaluru city, led by veteran pro-Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj.

The Cauvery Water Management Authority directed the Karnataka government to release 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu on September 26, even as the bandh on was in full swing.

Farmers and their leaders watched in total disbelief as the water was released by the afternoon. They quickly arranged a protest in Mysuru city in front of the Krishnaraja Wodeyar Circle, raising slogans.

As a part of the bandh, the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation stopped all its core city schedules and only plied with skeletal services in areas outside the core city.

Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) also tried to run its services with normal strength, but there were no takers. Ola and Uber autorickshaws were allowed to ply, which helped passengers arriving from afar into the city reach their destinations.

Buses from Tamil Nadu, that had halted for the night at the designated terminuses in the KempeGowda terminus and in the private bus stand at Kalasipalayam, stayed put the whole day and missed their trips to Krishnagiri, Hosur, and beyond.

Even Tamil Nadu State Road Transport Corporation buses ran only a few schedules to Bengaluru. However, they plied up to Hosur. The KSRTC buses picked up passengers from there.

According to farmer leaders, the Karnataka bandh call given by farmer associations on September 29 will be a big draw as it will be a state-level bandh in which over 29 farmer associations will participate. This bandh will have statewide ramifications, and a charter of demands will also be released on this occasion.

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