Bengaluru police shut down Phoenix Mall of Asia till 14 January citing traffic congestion

This comes in the wake of KRV activists clashing with the mall management over the enforcement of Kannada over 60 percent of name boards.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Dec 31, 2023 | 9:44 AMUpdatedDec 31, 2023 | 9:45 AM

File photo of the Phoenix Mall of Asia

In a first of sorts, the Bengaluru City Police have ordered a temporary shutdown of Phoenix Mall of Asia for about 15 days, starting Sunday, 31 December.

This move by the city police comes in the wake of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) activists locking horns with the management of the mall over the enforcement of Kannada over 60 percent of every name board or signage.

The city police restricted public access to the recently opened mall in Bengaluru to prevent annoyance and disturbance to public tranquillity and to provide a safe environment for traffic and the public at large, the order from the city police stated.

Related: KRV members in judicial custody over violent pro-Kannada protest

The police order

The order came from the police department after Bengaluru City Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) MN Anucheth, Deputy Commissioner of Police (North East division), and the police inspector of Kodigehalli prepared reports based on intelligence inputs hinting at an exigent situation that might arise during the New Year’s Eve festivities and the holidays thereafter.

Even though the mall management was aware of the reason it was being shut down temporarily, the city police maintained that the closure of the mall was due to the traffic congestion caused by hundreds of vehicles that would arrive at the mall ending up in queues at nearby roads, blocking and affecting traffic movement.

The Bengaluru City Police, in its order, also noted that there was a significant possibility in the coming days of traffic congestion, traffic disruption, noise pollution, disturbance to the public and disturbance of peace in the surrounding areas.

“This applies especially to the occasions of New Year celebration on 31 December, the second Saturday on 13 January, 2024, and Sunday on 14 January, 2024, when the Makara Sankranti festival is being celebrated and when larger crowds visiting the mall will lead to more inconvenience and disturbance to the public than before,” said the order.

Also read: KRV observes Black Day on 14 September on Hindi Diwas

The KRV protests

It might be recalled that KRV activists recently launched an aggressive campaign in Bengaluru, urging traders and businessmen who owned shops and commercial establishments in Bengaluru to put up their name boards with 60 percent covered by Kannada.

This campaign gained momentum over the past few months, particularly after an incident involving the management of Mall of Asia in the Hebbal area of Bengaluru.

The mall had sent a legal notice to KRV activists after they demanded that the management instal a Kannada nameboard of equal size to that of the English one for the mall.

The activists also questioned the lack of Kannadiga employees, highlighting the prevalence of guest workers from northern states working for lower wages, with free food and accommodation.

“When we questioned the mall management about not employing Kannadigas, they not only warned us not to interfere in their administrative affairs but also threatened us, stating that the city of Bengaluru had more than 70 percent people from the North. They said if they stood together, the locals would flee from Bengaluru,” a KRV activist told South First.

“The owner of Mall of Asia, who is from Maharashtra, also managed to pull some strings and register a case against KRV chief TA Narayana Gowda, and that is when the KRV activists decided to approach not only the Mall of Asia but all of the other malls in the city, as well as launch an aggressive campaign on enforcing the rule which states 60 percent of the nameboards should be in Kannada,” the activist added.

The Mall of Asia in Hebbal remained closed on Wednesday, 27 December, after a KRV protest procession from the Sadahalli toll gate to Cubbon Park in the city. The mall management sought police protection against potential action by the pro-Kannada activists.