VILLUPURAM: THE bandh called by various farmer and pro-Kannada organisations on Thursday against the Mahadayi river tribunal verdict was total in north Karnataka districts, hitting normal life.
Though the protests were largely peaceful in Belagavi, Gadag and Hubballi-Dharwad, they took a violent turn in Navalgund, Dharwad, and Nargund, Gadag. Prohibitory orders were later enforced in both towns.
The bandh had no impact in other parts of the state but security has been beefed up ahead of Saturday’s bandh called by pro-Kannada associations and the Kannada film fraternity. The inaugural function of IIT-Dharwad, scheduled for Sunday, too has been deferred.
In Navalgund, the epicentre of protests, mobs torched offices of the city municipality and public works department and set vehicles too on fire. Records, files and furniture were burnt to ashes in these offices. They pelted stones at buses parked in Navalgund depot, banks, BSNL and other government offices.
When protesters tried barge into court premises, the police resorted to lathi-charge and firing of tear gas shells. As the protest turned violent, Deputy Commissioner S V Bommanalli imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
In Gadag too, police resorted to lathi-charge while protesters defied the police order not to shut shops and markets forcibly. Preventive arrests were also made in the city. Two youths tried to commit suicide by consuming poison during a protest and were admitted in hospital. Protesters attacked government offices. Here too Section 144 was imposed.
The bandh in Hubballi-Dharwad was relatively peaceful, barring stray incidents where protesters blocked roads at key points by setting tyres on fire. Blocking of NH-4 at Gabbur bypass created a lot of inconvenience for commuters on the Pune-Bengaluru road. NH-218, or the Hubballi-Vijayapura Road was also completely blocked.
Stray stone-pelting incidents were reported in the twin cities. A Maharashtra-bound truck and an auto were damaged. Stones were pelted at the office of All India Radio in Dharwad. State buses didn’t ply for the fourth day in a row in the northern districts while other modes of transport too were unavailable.
Meanwhile, pro-Karnataka outfits have called for a statewide bandh on July 30 to protest the interim order of the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal.
The bandh call is being spearheaded by Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha leader Vatal Nagaraj. The call is likely to garner good support across the state. The Kannada film fraternity which has openly participated in rallies supporting the state’s claim for drinking water, has already expressed their intention to stop screening of films also to stop filming on July 30.
“The state has always been getting a raw deal when it comes to water and land. We intend to continue this fight until we win it,” Vatal said.