BENGALURU: A thick security blanket with thousands of police and paramilitary personnel keeping a hawk’s eye on every nook and corner, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC in many parts, coupled with appeals by political and community leaders for peace and citizens holding their nerve saw the state breathe easy through Saturday.
Karnataka was one among the few states where prohibitory orders were clamped on the day the Supreme Court delivered its verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case. A multi-layered security arrangement was made across the state with police leaving nothing to chance. In many places, residents chose to remain indoors glued to the television and refraining from stepping out.
Many districts including Bengaluru, Huballi, Mangaluru, Udupi, Shivamogga, Belagavi, Chitradurga and Mysuru were deserted. There was almost no traffic till late afternoon in most of the cities. Liquor stores and bars too had downed their shutters across the state. While a holiday had been declared for schools and colleges, in several cities, some shopkeepers in sensitive areas preferred to remain shut till evening. Police said they did so voluntarily and there was no forced shutdown. In all cities, the police chiefs participated in the domination marches held in sensitive areas. Several meetings were held with taxi unions and auto drivers who were asked to be vigilant and alert the police if they found anyone indulging in rumour-mongering or making provocative remarks.
In Bengaluru, the city police had made heavy deployment in some sensitive areas of East and West Bengaluru. “More than 8,000 policemen, 50 KSRP and 34 CAR platoons, Home Guards and Civil Defence volunteers were deployed in Bengaluru alone while a company of CRPF was deployed in the eastern part of the city as a precautionary measure,” a senior officer said.
Security at the Kempegowda International Airport was also stepped up with the CISF and Airport police deploying personnel in large numbers. A security official said, “There has been minimum impact on the airport as such. Things are normal here and we have been providing tight security.” Security was also heightened at all other airports too, apart from Metro and railway stations.
The state had witnessed one of the bloodiest riots in December 1992 after the demolition of the Babri Masjid that had claimed 75 lives in Karnataka, with 21 in Bengaluru alone. In Kalaburagi city, where six people had died in police firing in 1992, the police started taking preventive measures from Friday evening after it was announced that the Supreme Court would pronounce its verdict on Saturday.
Kalaburagi Police Commissioner M N Nagaraj told TNIE that policemen in plainclothes were deployed in sensitive areas from Friday night itself. “In all, 4,000 police personnel were deployed in the city for security arrangement. Additional police force was posted near temples and place of prayers to prevent celebrations or protests. Apart from this, about 15 anti-social elements were taken into preventive custody,” Nagaraj said. Kolar, another sensitive pocket in the state, witnessed peace and no untoward incident was reported there as well as Chikkaballapur district. Other districts like Mysuru, Mandya and Ramanagara too remained calm.
Prohibitory orders are in force in many districts including Mangaluru, Bengaluru, Mysuru, Udupi, Hubballi, Belagavi, Vijayapura, Chikkamagaluru, Shivamogga, Tumkur and Kolar districts from 10 am on Saturday to 6 am on Sunday. Though Udupi is considered as a communally sensitive district, there have been no major instances of violence in the last decade. However, police had provided additional security to mosques in Hoode and Malpe areas.
Mangaluru city and Dakshina Kannada district, which are also considered sensitive, remained peaceful. Since Saturday was Tulasi Puja, which is celebrated in a grand manner in the district with bursting of firecrackers, the police had ordered closure of firecracker shops in the district as they did not want to take any chances. Belagavi too remained peaceful and businesses were unaffected. In Shivamogga, Superintendent of Police KM Shantaraj said the district was peaceful and normal life was unaffected.