Amidst rising tensions and vocal opposition on Cauvery row, the “Kannada Okkuta” — a unified alliance of Kannada organisations — has boldly reposed its confidence in the success of an impending day-long strike scheduled on Friday, 29 September.
This dawn-to-dusk bandh has been called to protest against Karnataka’s Congress government for releasing Cauvery water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu in the midst of monsoon failure coupled with severe drought in the state.
A massive protest procession is expected to go from Town Hall to Freedom Park in the city, in which people from all walks of life are likely to participate, the organisers said.
Additionally, the organisation has issued a stern warning to the state government, cautioning against any attempts to hinder the bandh.
Over 2,000 organisations have announced support for Kannada Okkuta’s bandh call on Friday.
This is likely to affect public transport, including trains operating between Bengaluru and Mysuru, auto-rickshaw, and cab services from dawn to dusk.
The bandh is expected to also affect the schools and colleges. However, there is no official announcement on this yet either from the state government or any district administration.
What may be affected?
The one-day bandh called by the Karnataka Okkuta over the Cauvery row is likely to affect normal life across the state on Friday.
Bengaluru City, the capital of Karnataka, would be observing a bandh for the second time in four days over the Cauvery water dispute with Tamil Nadu.
From public transport to cab services to hotel services to fuel stations to cinema halls to schools and colleges, operations are likely to be affected due to bandh.
The Ola Uber Association has announced its support for the bandh and suspended all its cab services in Bengaluru City on Friday.
“Despite the Bengaluru Bandh on 26 September, I managed to run an auto. If organisations continue to call for bandhs as per their whims and fancies, how do we survive? Our livelihood depends on daily earnings. If the bandh gets intense, I will remain off the road,” autorickshaw driver Rangaswamy told South First.
The four state transport corporations — including BMTC — are likely to take a call on running buses on Friday based on the police’s advisory.
“We will operate buses subject to the local conditions. It will be a dynamic day tomorrow. We will collect inputs from the police department on the severity of the bandh,” North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation Managing Director Bharat S told South First on Thursday.
He added: “We have not received any instructions either from the government. As we are a public transport corporation, we will continue to operate buses as scheduled. If there are any highway blocks and protests intensified, we will take a call based on the advice of the police department.”
Schools and colleges are likely to face the heat of the bandh in Mysuru, Mandya, Bengaluru, Ramanagara, and Dharwad.
According to sources: “The Department of School Education and Literacy has orally given the authority to all the deputy commissioners to make a decision on declaring holiday to schools and colleges at their district level.”
Till Thursday afternoon, none of the district administrations had announced a holiday for schools and colleges. An announcement regarding the operation of schools and colleges is expected to be out by late evening.
What will be available?
Emergency services such as ambulances and hospitals are likely to remain unaffected. The state government will run ambulance services and hospitals as usual.
The Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) is likely to operate on all the routes as per the schedule.
Train services — excluding the Bengaluru-Chamarajanagar route — are likely to remain normal. South Western Railway officials have not made any official statement on the bandh. The trains will continue to operate as per schedule.
Bengaluru City Police Commissioner B Dayananda has issued a curfew order in Bangalore starting at midnight.
“Various organisations have called for a Karnataka bandh. The police security has been beefed up across the city. There will be no rallies and processions tomorrow as well,” he told reporters.
Karnataka | Bengaluru City Police tweets, “Today addressing press, Bengaluru Police Commissioner has reiterated that no bundh/protests/processions are allowed as per Supreme Court/High Court instructions. Section 144 enforced citywide – gatherings of more than 5 people not… pic.twitter.com/WjGLKP5Jhn
— ANI (@ANI) September 25, 2023
Towards late afternoon on Thursday, Dayanand was quoted by the Bengaluru City Police’s official X handle as emphasising “on Supreme Court’s ruling that all forms of bandh are forbidden”.
He added: “The sole sanctioned location for protests and rallies is Freedom Park.”
And this note came for a reason. During Tuesday’s bandh, unsanctioned protests at other locations saw around 1,000 agitators being rounded up.
The police commissioner also said on Thursday: “If any damage to the property occurs, the respective protesting organization will be held accountable for the costs.”
Tomorrow, on 29th September 2023, several organizations in Karnataka are uniting for a state-wide bandh to protest against the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. The Bengaluru Commissioner of Police emphasises on Supreme Court's ruling that all forms of bandh are forbidden.… pic.twitter.com/wANHedBtct
— ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು ನಗರ ಪೊಲೀಸ್ BengaluruCityPolice (@BlrCityPolice) September 28, 2023