The city of Bengaluru is on the verge of a major upheaval as various groups gear up to stage protests against the ongoing Cauvery water issue. In a proactive move, the Bengaluru Urban District administration has opted to declare a citywide holiday for all schools and colleges. Additionally, the Bengaluru City Police are poised to enforce 24-hour prohibitory orders starting at midnight to ensure law and order are maintained. Commissioner B Dayananda, speaking on Tuesday, highlighted the heightened security measures that have been implemented to prevent any untoward incidents in the city.
At the heart of this unrest lies the directive issued by the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) to the Karnataka government, mandating the release of 5,000 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of water to Tamil Nadu over a 15-day period commencing on September 13. The Supreme Court, in a September 21 ruling, upheld the CWMA’s decision, rejecting petitions from both the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments seeking to intervene in the directive.
The response from opposition groups has been swift and impactful. Farmers’ organizations have called for a ‘Bengaluru bandh’ today, with their focus squarely on the Cauvery water issue. Simultaneously, several Kannada organizations, united under the banner ‘Kannada Okkuta’ and led by the prominent Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj, have announced a statewide bandh on September 29. This agitation has garnered support from various political parties, including the BJP, JD(S), Aam Aadmi Party, and the Bengaluru Navanirmana Party.
Impact on Daily Life:
The impact of these protests is already evident as normal life in Bengaluru is expected to be severely disrupted on Tuesday. An umbrella union of farmers, operating under the name Karnataka Jala Samrakshana Samiti, has called for a 12-hour bandh starting at 6 a.m. In response, the police have imposed Section 144 of the CrPC citywide, effectively prohibiting gatherings of more than five people.
Kurbur Shanthakumar, a prominent farmer union leader, outlined their plans, stating that a procession would be held from the Town Hall to Freedom Park, culminating in the submission of a memorandum to the government of India. He also emphasized that if the government fails to respond adequately to their protest, further actions will be contemplated.
Many educational institutions in the state have declared a holiday in anticipation of the Bengaluru bandh. Auto-taxi unions and the KSRTC Staff and Workers’ Federation have lent their support by urging their members to abstain from services during the bandh.
However, Bengaluru Police Commissioner B Dayananda has issued a statement denying permission for the bandh and has requested organizers to confine their protest activities to Freedom Park. These restrictions under Section 144 will take effect from midnight.
Notably, not all sectors are in alignment with the protests. The Ola-Uber drivers’ association and hotel owners’ association have announced that they will not support the Bengaluru bandh scheduled for today.
The momentum of protests is set to continue with another statewide bandh scheduled for September 29 under the banner of ‘Kannada Okkuta,’ led by activist Vatal Nagaraj. This bandh, known as the ‘Akhanda Karnataka bandh,’ is planned to be observed across the entire state, leaving no district untouched. Nagaraj emphasized that this fight is not limited to one region but is for the entirety of Karnataka. It’s worth noting that ‘Kannada Okkuta’ has organized more than 50 bandhs throughout the state as part of their ongoing campaign.
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