Karnataka Bandh Disrupts Bengaluru as Cauvery Water Row Sparks Protests
Bengaluru, the bustling capital of Karnataka, found itself in the midst of turmoil as the Cauvery water row ignited a state-wide bandh (strike) on a scale that disrupted daily life in profound ways. This turmoil has even impacted air travel, with 44 flights, including 22 arrivals and 22 departures, being canceled today, according to the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru.
In response to this unfolding crisis, the airport authorities issued a plea to passengers via social media, urging them to stay vigilant and follow updates from airlines, law enforcement agencies, and media releases. The situation remains fluid, and real-time information is crucial to navigate the disruptions caused by the bandh.
The Karnataka Bandh was organized by farmer groups and pro-Kannada organizations in reaction to the release of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu. This act has taken on an added significance due to the backdrop of an ongoing drought situation in Karnataka, making water a precious and contentious resource in the state.
To ensure the safety and security of its citizens, Karnataka police have mobilized additional forces across the state. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code have been imposed in several districts, including Bengaluru Urban, Mandya, Mysuru, Chamarajanagara, Ramanagara, and Hassan. These orders restrict the assembly of people and are aimed at preventing any untoward incidents during the bandh. Additionally, schools and colleges in these areas have been shutdown, keeping students and staff safe during the protests.
In a related incident, Bengaluru police detained individuals associated with pro-Kannada organizations who were staging a protest near Attibele in Karnataka, highlighting the intensity of the Cauvery water row dispute.
At the border town of Zuzuvadi in Tamil Nadu, vehicles with Tamil Nadu registration plates were halted by local authorities. Over 400 buses from various districts in Tamil Nadu are presently stranded in Hosur due to roadblocks enforced by law enforcement authorities. Earlier in the day, Pro Kannada Organizations had organized a protest at the border, escalating tensions in the region.
Additional Superintendent of Police of Bengaluru Rural, Mallikarjun Baladandi, emphasized that extensive measures had been taken to maintain peace during the bandh. He said, “We’ve taken necessary precautions because several pro-Kannada organizations called for a bandh. We’ve detained more than 50 people from these organizations. We have enough personnel, and we’re committed to ensuring that everything goes smoothly and without any problems.”
The ‘Kannada Okkoota,’ an alliance of Kannada and farmers’ groups, has been at the forefront of these protests. This bandh comes on the heels of a city-wide strike in Bengaluru on Tuesday, which witnessed significant participation from the local population in solidarity with the cause.
The impact of the bandh has rippled through various sectors of society. The Kannada film industry expressed its support for the strike, leading to theaters across the state canceling shows until the evening. The Karnataka Film Exhibitors Association has also endorsed the strike, making a collective statement on the importance of the Cauvery water issue.
Furthermore, the bandh has disrupted the operations of numerous information technology firms and other companies based in Bengaluru. To ensure the safety of their employees, these firms have instructed their staff to engage in remote work from their homes, underscoring the profound influence of the Cauvery water row on daily life and commerce in the city.
As the bandh continues to unfold, all eyes are on the developments surrounding the Cauvery water dispute. The state of Karnataka, with its rich history and vibrant culture, finds itself grappling with this contentious issue, and the path forward remains uncertain as stakeholders seek to strike a balance between water-sharing agreements and regional sentiments.