Karnataka bandh: 44 flights cancelled, normal life disrupted

Several pro-Kannada activists were detained from different parts of the state for staging a protest over the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu

Representative image of a dam on the Cauvery river (photo: IANS)
Representative image of a dam on the Cauvery river (photo: IANS)

NH Political Bureau

More than 44 flights were cancelled at Bengaluru international airport on Friday, 29 September, after thousands of pro-Karnataka activists reached the airport and raised slogans against the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.

The protesters were detained by the police later but the demonstration caused considerable inconvenience to arriving passengers, leading to chaos in the airport.

Kannada Okkoota, an umbrella organisation, called the protest to oppose the release of water to Tamil Nadu. Social organisations, farmers' bodies, and Kannada film stars have variously lent support to the call for a statewide bandh.

All educational institutions in Bengaluru and Mandya districts remain closed, and restrictions under section 144 have been imposed in the city. Meanwhile, police have detained pro-Kannada activist and former MLA Vatal Nagaraj.

Most shops, business establishments and eateries in the Cauvery basin districts, such as Mandya in the southern part of the state, downed shutters. Private vehicles were off the roads in those areas too.

The state-owned transport corporations operated very few buses in the southern districts fearing a backlash. In view of the shutdown, districts in Karnataka sharing borders with Tamil Nadu have been put on high alert.

The Tamil Nadu police chief also directed superintendents of police in border districts, such as Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Salem, Erode and Nilgiris, to take precautionary measures. Security deployment has been increased at checkpoints.

Protestors set fire to a portrait of Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin in the district headquarters town of Chitradurga.

With the Kannada film industry also extending its support to the bandh, theatres across the state have cancelled shows until Friday evening, with the Karnataka Film Exhibitors Association backing the bandh as well.

Most information technology firms as well as some others in Bengaluru have asked their employees to work from home.

Key market areas in Bengaluru such as Chikpet, Balepet and adjoining business districts wore a deserted look. The Auto Rickshaw Drivers Union and Ola Uber Drivers and Owners Associations too have extended their support to the bandh.

Meanwhile, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said the direction of the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee to Karnataka to release water at the rate of 3,000 cubic feet per second (cusecs) to Tamil Nadu until 15 October will be challenged before the Supreme Court.

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