15k Vokkaliga hit the streets for ‘DK Boss’

Members of the Vokkaliga Sangha participate in a protest rally in solidarity with Congress leader D K Shivakumar in Bengaluru on Wednesday. DH Photo/B K Janardhan

City streets on Wednesday witnessed a show of strength by Vokkaligas, as one of the dominant communities in Karnataka protested against the arrest of Congress leader and former minister D K Shivakumar. 

Slogans of ‘DK Boss’ rented the air as over 15,000 people took part in the rally which started at the National College Grounds in Basavanagudi and wound its way up to Freedom Park in over four hours, throwing traffic out of gear all along the 5.2-km stretch.

The entire rally route was cordoned off and traffic diverted.

“We are not here to question the law but to clear the name of Shivakumar, a lawful public servant who complied with the subpoena and went to Delhi despite being innocent,” said Appaji Gowda, president of the Vokkaligara Sangha.

The rally witnessed the participation of sitting corporators, MLAs and MLCs from the Congress, former ministers and parliamentarians.

The rally commenced after a brief address by community leaders like MLA Krishna Byregowda, former minister Cheluvanarayana Swamy and president of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike who condemned Shivakumar’s arrest by the Enforcement Directorate and called for an end to BJP’s vendetta politics.

The demonstrators vented their ire on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for deliberately attacking Congress leaders.

“We will no longer tolerate Gujarati and North Indian oppression of our leaders. Our patience has a limit. We will retaliate politically if they continue to target our community leaders,” thundered a Vokkaliga member as he hit out at the Centre.

“D K Shivakumar has done a lot for the women of the Cauvery basin and it is our duty to be here today,” said Archana from the women’s wing of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike.

Several others said they were indebted to Shivakumar and that he had their unconditional support.

Rally litter

Following the rally, the National College Grounds was littered with heaps of plastic garbage left over by the participants. Milk and buttermilk packets were strewn all around the ground and all through the protest route.

Police security

The Bangalore City Police had deployed over 5,000 personnel to ensure law and order during the rally. The force was divided into teams of 800 and deployed at vantage points.

According to Rohini Katoch, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South), no area where the protest march passed through was left unpatrolled.

As the Bangalore Traffic Police chose to completely ban traffic along the march route, alternative roads were suggested for motorists. Though these stretches also witnessed traffic snarls, the situation was managed well by the police personnel.

The roads from National College Grounds to Freedom Park were cordoned off from 11 am to 3 pm. The procession was late to leave the grounds, starting at 12.45 pm, but quickly covered the stretch, entering Freedom Park by 2.15 pm. All roads were open to traffic by 2.30 pm, half an hour before the estimate.

“Since citizens were alerted about the procession route, there was higher density of vehicles on peripheral and arterial roads, causing traffic congestion. However, this only lasted for one and a half hours,” said Ravikanthe Gowda, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic).

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