Parched districts respond with total bandh
Government offices, educational institutes and banks were all closed in support of the bandh.
Farmers, lawyers, Dalits and members of pro-Kannada organisations protested enthusiastically.
Business and transport came to a standstill. Private buses and auto rickshaws kept away from the streets. Most stores and stalls, including fruit and vegetable vendors, did not open shop. In addition, officers and staff members at government offices went on leave on Thursday, and work went haywire in all six taluks.
Members of the Permanent Irrigation Struggle Committee and other organisations staged motorbike rallies on the streets of taluk headquarters. They shouted slogans demanding an irrigation project for the district. They even threatened to continue the fight till the demand is fulfilled.
“The public was informed barely four days back, but they have all voluntarily participated in the protest. There was no need for forced closure of the shutters of shops,” said a leader of the Committee.
“The bandh is a success completely. The State government should realise the gravity of the situation looking at the response and fulfill our demands,” the leader added.
The bandh was total in the taluk. There were road blocks, and motorbike rallies in town. The protesters staged a dharna in a unique fashion, by organising a community lunch in the middle of a road. Businessmen supported by shutting the shops down of their own accord.
The protesters visited government offices, banks and educational institutes, support for the bandh. In response, the officials closed the offices, banks and schools.
The protesters also submitted a memorandum to the tahsildar demanding implementation of an irrigation project.
Members of the Committee and the Chitravathi Bachao Samiti led the protest in the taluk, which saw no untoward incident through the day. The police security was also tight.
The Committee members had also called for a bandh of the National Highway 7.
Travellers, however, were forced to book into hotels as they were denied transport facilities. Also, commuters entering the town had to park their vehicles about two km away to prevent trouble. The protesters blocked the roads at TB Cross, National College, HN Circle and KSRTC bus stand with boulders, preventing movement of traffic.
Shops, commercial complexes, government offices, banks, educational institutes, were all closed. Exceptions were made, however, for milk vans, bakeries, chemists and private hospitals.
A procession was staged from Ambedkar statue till Narepalli Toll Plaza on National Highway 7, via TB Cross. Committee leader B R Narasimha Naidu appreciated the government move to appoint water expert Paramashivaiah as the chairperson of the permanent irrigation committee. “It should also release funds immediately to implement his report and take care not to express fake sympathy to the cause of the protesters,” he warned.
Several people travelling to Bangalore from other states were put to inconvenience due to a total bandh that was observed in Kolar. Several inter-state trains and buses, mainly from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, pass through the district.
Many workers too faced hardship as transport was hit through out the district. Those having a marriage at home on Friday were seen cursing the bandh organisers as they could not make any purchases as all the business establishments and shops had remained close for most part of the day.
Those taking their unwell relatives to hospitals were seen requesting the protesters, who had blocked the National Highway-4, to make way for their vehicles. Workers from rural areas were stranded. The protesters stopped the bus by which they were travelling and, the Malur-bound couple along with other passengers was forced to alight on the highway.
The protesters blocked vehicles on the National Highway 4 and squatted on the road to register their protest. Milk van and ambulances were allowed to move. Even women took part in the bandh with empty pots and a few tried to cook on the highways.
A total bandh was observed even in Srinivaspur town on Thursday.
Shops, business establishments, restaurants, cinemas and educational establishments remained closed. As there was hardly any movement of vehicles and the public, the roads in the town looked deserted.
Protesters staged a rasta roko near the inspection bungalow on the outskirts of the town. Former speaker and Congress leader K R Ramesh Kumar addressed the gathering. Sirinivaspur MLA G K Venkatshiva Reddy led a procession of protesters near Mahatma Gandhi statue in the town.
In Kolar Gold Fields
In spite of poor participation by leaders of major political parties, the bandh organised in the city had a good a response as no shops were open and the roads wore a deserted look. No untoward incidents were reported.
As part of the bandh, BEML had declared holiday and garment units too had downed their shutters. Schools, colleges, government, semi-government and central government offices did not function. There was a total bandh in MG Market complex and the roads were empty.
All the shops in Bethamangala closed their business in support of the bandh. Members of Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene participated in the bandh and explained the importance of the protest to the people.
Members of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene who began protesting from as early as 6 am, stopped vehicle users on the Bangarpet-Kolar road and urged them to participate in the bandh. They forcibly closed down a petrol bunk and other shops and protested at the Kempegowda Circle demanding implementation of Parmashivaiah Report. They burnt tyres in some places to register their protest. Congress leaders took out a bike rally in support of the bandh.
Passengers who had arrived from Bangalore and Jolarpet trains to reach their villages in the town had a tough time as there was no transport facility.
Circle Inspector of Police Shivakumar and sub-inspector Ashwatha Narayanswami reviewed the arrangements.