Mixed response for bandh

The district bandh, called by some civic organisations seeking relaxation from toll for locals in Sasthana and Hejmadi toll gates and toll exemption till the road works are completed, received mixed response on Monday.

Following the assurance by tahsildar Maheshchandra that the toll would not be collected from local vehicles, the agitators, who had gathered in large numbers to protest against toll collection, agreed to disperse at Hejmadi and Gundmi.

Earlier,  the protest was held in Kaup, Yermal, Ucchila, Katpadi, Padubidri and Hejmadi. The agitators, under the leadership of Hejmadi Nagarika Horata Samiti, blocked the road at Hejmadi Bypass Junction and proceeded in a procession.

They blocked the road at Hejmadi toll gate for nearly 15 minutes and raised slogans against the district administration and the deputy commissioner.

They exchanged words with police when they were stopped and demanded that the deputy commissioner should visit the spot. The police later convinced the agitators to stay away from the national highway and allow vehicular movement.

The agitators, who gathered in large numbers though prohibitory orders had been imposed on either side of the highway, defied the police. The police tried to control the mob and arrest the protesters, but they had to face public fury.

The agitators resorted to hold a peace march. However, they  were upset as a woman sub-inspector from Chikkamagaluru tried to wield lathi to control the mob.

A large number of agitators initially gathered in front of Padubidri gram panchayat and later proceeded towards tollgate.

Udupi taluk Gram Panchayat Union president Deviprasad Shetty said the toll collection would be allowed only when Navyug Constructions abides by the assurances and completes the proposed works.
He claimed collecting toll at two different places in the district is totally injustice and urged that the toll gate at Surathkal which is just 12-13 km away from Hejmadi should be closed, if the company intends to collect the toll at Hejmadi.

The company should give the undertaking that the toll would be completely waived for KA 20 and KA 19 registered vehicles. The KA 19 vehicles are Dakshina Kannada registered and Mulki is just five kilometers from Hejmadi, he added.

The police arrested the agitators. Later, the public started blocking the police vehicles. The agitators, who were pushed inside the police vans, jumped out from the windows of the vehicles and the remaining people demanded the release of the agitators. The police had to yield to the pressure and release the protesters.

They demanded the immediate transfer of the deputy commissioner and the recommendations by the committee set up under minister U T Khader over Talpady tollgate should be implemented.

Tahsildar Maheshchandra, who arrived at the spot assured them that KA 20 registered vehicles would be exempted from toll collection till February 25. The decision taken at a meeting held on February 13 in Bengaluru by NHAI authorities would be considered for the future course of action. A meeting would be held in another two days under the leadership of district in-charge minister, he said.

Bandh partial

The bandh call given by various organisations  was partial in the district.

All the private vehicles, including city buses, were seen plying. The service buses remained off the roads till noon and resumed services in the evening. Shops and business establishments remained closed in a few areas. The schools and colleges functioned as usual. However, the attendance of students was less.

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