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Cautious City Crawls Through Bandh Day

Many Auto drivers decided to stay off the roads and some reportedly demanded extra money in the morning.

Published: 01st August 2014 08:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st August 2014 09:01 AM   |  A+A-

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BANGALORE: The bandh call given by some Kannada groups on Thursday evoked a mixed response as several organisations, including central government institutions like banks, chose to remain open for business.

In the IT/ITeS sector, offices were open or work continued from home. However, reduced number of buses on roads, coupled with auto drivers who did not want to risk operating on Thursday, did result in commuting hassles for some.

Areas like Chikpet, Mamulpet, Avenue Road, Jayanagar and Basavangudi saw downed shutters as shopkeepers remained closed fearing violence. “We will open in the evening if no incidents are reported in the area,” said the manager of a popular hotel in Basavangudi earlier in the day.

“We supported the bandh as we believe the safety and security of any human being is of importance. There was no political pressure and traders shut shop voluntarily,” said Sajjan Raj Mehta, a trade activist.

For transport utility BMTC, the day started with a minor stone-throwing incident near Electronics City. However, no injuries were reported and a bus suffered a damaged windshield. “We operated lesser number of buses than usual,” said a senior BMTC official.

However, buses were running almost empty for most part of the day and bus stands wore a deserted look in the afternoon. “We decided to see the situation in the morning before reporting to work. In the end, we just logged in from home as it was not worth the risk of getting to office,” said an employee of a tech company. Other company employees were not so lucky and had to reach office. “Most of us came in late as the regular buses were delayed or were unavailable. Auto drivers demanded extra money in the morning,” said an employee with a PSU bank.

Auto drivers were reportedly demanding Rs 20 above the metered fare. “There was no violence but many autos decided to stay off the roads as a precaution,” said Manjunath, president of the Adarsha Auto Drivers’ Union. 

The bandh call was roundly criticised on social media with many objecting to the organisations which called for the shutdown. Several posts in the ‘Win Bangalore Back’ group said they will not support a bandh called by organisations which support moral policing.

Members of the Kannada Rakshana Vedike took out a rally.

“The bandh was successful. Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy operated buses in spite of the bandh, but they ran empty. He is very irresponsible and does not care about the safety of women,” said Kannada Chalavali Vatal Paksha president Vatal Nagaraj.

He appreciated the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) for deciding to close theatres in the morning in support of the bandh. The KFCC had earlier refused to participate.

“We met the Chief Minister and he assured us that all action under the law is being taken by the government. It was a positive response,” Nagaraj added.

Police took 1,200 history-sheeters in Bangalore into preventive custody.

Malls were given additional security and were covered with nets to prevent damage from stone-throwing. Government buildings like MS Building, Vidhana Soudha and Vikasa Soudha, which are usually crowded, were empty.

Protests were concentrated around Malleswaram Circle, Town Hall, Mysore Bank Circle and Maurya Circle. 

President of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, T A Narayana Gowda, said, “We did not take part in the bandh and neither did we say we will. There was no value to the bandh as it was not against the government. Bandh should be the last resort to deal with major issues. It must be effective. I support the protest demanding action from the government, but not a bandh.”



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