Cauvery dispute: Karnataka bandh disrupts normal life; 44 flights cancelled at Bengaluru airport

Pro-Kannada activists have called for a dawn-to-dusk bandh in opposition to the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, causing disruptions in Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka. While no major untoward incidents have occurred in the city, the bandh has had a noticeable impact on daily life.

Airport Disruptions:

  • Kempegowda International Airport witnessed the cancellation of 44 flights (22 outgoing and 22 incoming) due to “operational” reasons.
  • Passengers, anticipating the bandh, canceled their tickets, contributing to flight cancellations.
  • Five pro-Kannada activists were detained for attempting to block the runway after entering the airport with valid flight tickets.
  • Another group of protestors at the airport’s arrival gate was also taken into preventive detention by police.

Police Clarification:

  • A senior police official confirmed that there was no protest on the runway and that flight cancellations were unrelated to protestors.
  • Bengaluru International Airport Limited (BIAL) issued an advisory to passengers, urging them to follow alerts from airlines and law enforcement agencies.

Impact on Bengaluru:

  • The state government declared a holiday for educational institutions and allowed employees to work from home, leading to sparse traffic and fewer app-based cabs and auto-rickshaws on the roads.
  • Many people left the city on September 27 due to the extended holidays.

Business and Transport:

  • Hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, and commercial establishments remained closed across the city and state.
  • Delivery services continued largely unaffected, but commercial hubs like Church Street, Brigade Road, MG Road, and Chickpet wore a deserted look.
  • Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) operated 3,587 out of 5,602 schedules, with fewer passengers at major bus terminuses.
  • Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operated 58.75 percent of schedules till 1 pm, with poor footfall at bus terminuses.

Educational Institutions:

  • The government declared a holiday for schools and colleges in districts including Bengaluru, Mandya, Mysuru, and Hassan.

Protests and Detentions:

  • Pro-Kannada activists staged a rail roko protest in Mandya and Yadgir, with several protestors detained in various locations.
  • Demonstrations were held at Freedom Park, where slogans like ‘Cauvery is ours’ and ‘We will give blood but not Cauvery’ were raised.
  • Pro-Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj was detained at Town Hall, preventing him from staging a protest march to Freedom Park.
  • Prominent Kannada actors, including Shiva Raj Kumar, Upendra, and Darshan, participated in the protest, with the Karnataka Film Chamber Of Commerce (KFCC) extending its support.

Government Response:

  • Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar expressed the view that there was no need for a Karnataka bandh.
  • Section 144 of the CrPC was imposed in several regions of Karnataka to maintain law and order.
  • The bandh was successful in districts including Bengaluru Urban, Mandya, Mysuru, Hassan, Chamarajanagar, and Ramanagara.

In summary:

  • Pro-Kannada activists’ bandh opposing Cauvery water release to Tamil Nadu disrupts Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka.
  • Kempegowda International Airport experiences flight cancellations, while protestors are detained.
  • City witnesses sparse traffic and business closures, with limited impact on delivery services.
  • Public transport operates with reduced schedules, and educational institutions remain closed.
  • Protests, detentions, and notable participation from actors mark the day, with a successful bandh in some districts.

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