The countrywide dawn-to-dusk bandh announced by pro-Kannada and farmers’ organisations on the Cauvery water conflict on Friday thrown life into disarray by disrupting transportation services. Schools and institutions remained closed as protest marches took place across the state.
The closure was organised by ‘Kannada Okkuta,’ an umbrella organisation for Kannada organisations opposing the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, comprising sections of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, Kannada Chalavali (Vatal Paksha), and numerous farmers’ bodies.
While over 44 flights to and from Kempegowda International Airport had to be cancelled, state transportation corporations also suspended bus services, particularly in the Cauvery basin districts of Mysuru, Mandya, and Chamarajanagar, where the bandh had the greatest impact.
“Today, we cancelled 44 flights.” Due to the strike, these comprise 22 flights to and an equal number of flights from Bengaluru,” an airport official informed PTI.
According to the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), just 59.88% of buses operate in southern Karnataka. Mysuru and Chamarajanagar divisions were the hardest hit. In Mysuru, only seven of the scheduled 447 buses ran, while eight of the 247 bus services ran in Chamarajanagar.
Mandya, Chikkamagaluru, and Bengaluru saw 37.25 percent, 51.49 percent, and 57.39 percent of scheduled departures, respectively.
Bus stops and railway stations in southern Karnataka, as well as the airport in Bengaluru, appeared desolate.
Farmers and pro-Kannada organisations demonstrated near Attibele in Bengaluru, as well as at the airport and in the Mandya region. Members of a farmers’ association in Mandya, Karnataka, also staged a ‘rail roko’ protest over the Cauvery water-sharing problem.
Many demonstrators, including pro-Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj, were detained as a precaution by police. “In light of the bandh, we have made proper preparations.” More than 50 members of the organisation have been arrested. “We have enough staff and will make sure nothing goes wrong,” Mallikarjun Baladandi, Additional Superintendent of Police for Bengaluru Rural District, told reporters.
Over 12 persons were placed into preventive detention on the airport grounds. Protesters also packed bus stations, brandishing banners, posters, and placards and conducting rallies and raising chants. Many routes in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mandya, and Chamarajanagar were blocked by protesters, resulting in a chaotic situation.
In the Mandya district, Section 144 has been imposed, and schools and institutions will remain closed. The majority of shops, businesses, and cafes in the Cauvery basin districts have closed their doors. Private automobiles were not allowed on the roadways in those regions. Protesters set fire to a photograph of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin in Chitradurga, the district headquarters town.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy requested on Friday that the state government release the activists who were arrested during the bandh to protest the supply of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. He went on to say that the ‘Kannada family’s’ togetherness should serve as a wake-up message to the adjacent state. “The entire state of Karnataka is throbbing in support of the Cauvery struggle.” Today’s bandh has inspired good response from all corners,” he tweeted on ‘X’.
“When it comes to the question of land, language and water, everyone should be united,” the previous chief minister stated, adding that “this harmony and unity in the Kannada family should be a wake-up call to the neighbouring states.”
“The government must not crush Kannada sentiments.” “Activists who have already been imprisoned should be released,” he stated.