BENGALURU: The Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute on Saturday morning was received amid a tense atmosphere across Karnataka, although no untoward incidents were reported. Across the state, weekend and travel plans were put aside. Fear of a communal flare-up in the minds of the public resulted in a blow to restaurants and hotels on Saturday. Many who had cancelled their outstation weekend trips on Friday evening, and stayed at home, decided to proceed with their plans on Saturday afternoon, after the verdict came, and calm prevailed. This resulted in a huge traffic jam at Bengaluru’s exit points.
Veerendra N Kamat, treasurer, Bruhat Bengaluru Hotels Association, however, said, “There has been a reduced influx of tourists into the city, which impacted our business by 40 per cent. We usually have very good business during weekends. But MG Road, Majestic and Chickpet were nearly empty. Patrons of fine dining, normally opt for a Saturday lunch, were nowhere to seen. What with city under curfew!”
Chief Public Relations Officer, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited, BL Yashvanth Chavan said, “A rough estimate revealed that our ridership went down by 25 per cent up to 4pm, compared to the second Saturday last month.”The otherwise busy Mysuru-Chamarajnagar-Coimbatore and Mysuru-Kozhikode-Kochi highways, considered to be economic corridors, wore a deserted look with minimum vehicular movement. Trucks were parked near hotels or police outposts, the drivers not daring to move until late evening.
Farmers too were hit as there were no traders from neighbouring states to buy their produce, nor trucks to transport it to Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Those who reached the markets with their produce, sat idle as there were no buyers.Hoteliers said there was a decline in traffic from Friday afternoon itself, with rumours that the verdict was to be pronounced on Saturday. Devaraj, who runs a canteen at Badanaguppe on the Mysuru-Chamarajanagar highway, said there was no business the whole day. Vehicular traffic and truck movement was minimal, forcing him to close the canteen by evening.
Rajshekar, a farmer, said he didn’t understand the gravity of the issue and came to the market to sell vegetables. “I had sale my veggies at throwaway prices as there were no traders,” he said.In Mangaluru city and Dakshina Kannada in general, which have a long history of communal clashes, citizens were doubly cautious. An uneasy calm prevailed in Mangaluru where weekend market rush and mall crowds were missing, and traffic was thin.
The rush at the railway station and bus stands was also missing. In Hubballi and Shivamogga, as elsewhere, religious groups had appealed to maintain peace, whatever be the verdict. It worked. As the judgment was pronounced, although emotions ran high among members of both communities, none expressed them openly.
Sharanabasaveshwara Vidyavardhak Sangha in Kalaburagi cancelled its silver jubilee celebrations of SBR PU College and decennial celebrations of SBR Public School. Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol was to be the chief guest, but after the verdict, Karjol went to Sharanabasaveshwara Temple to offer prayers.
Chitradurga and Davanagere, however, seem to be an exception as life went on normally. As the sun rose, business establishments slowly started opening, though a large number of police personnel kept their vigil, conducted flag marches, in communally sensitive areas of the districts.