Bandh to protest sexual offences disrupts life in Bangalore

Bangalore, July 31: Normal life was disrupted in the country's IT hub on Thursday as it observed a 12-hour bandh called by pro-Kannada outfits to protest rising incidents of sexual offences against women and children with a mixed response.

Large parts of the city were devoid of the hustle and bustle of a working day, with buses running with fewer passengers, most commercial establishments and shopping malls closed and a section of autorickshaw drivers staying off the roads. Attendance in the state secretariat, Vidhana Soudha, was badly affected while most private schools and colleges declared a holiday.

IT firms and banks functioned normally, officials and police said. Essential services were normal as they were exempt from the dawn-to-dusk bandh called by "Kannada Okoota (federation)", an umbrella body of several Kannada organisations led by Vatal Nagaraj. Security was tightened by police, bolstered by central forces, mobilising "maximum amount" of the force.

Barring two incidents of pelting stones at city transport buses, the bandh passed off peacefully, police said.

Kannada organisations staged demonstrations with the main body marching in a procession from Town Hall to "Freedom Park" in the heart of the city, demanding tough steps to curb the sexual offences. The outfits during their protests also demanded a ban on Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Ekikaran Samithi (MES), which is based in Belgaum in Karnataka, accusing them of trying to "disturb" peace on the boundary issue between the two states.

The boundary issue came to the fore again in recent days after pro-Maharashtra groups erected a sign board at Yellur village in Belgaum district, showing it was part of Maharashtra. The signboard was removed by the PWD on a High Court order but was re-erected before being removed again. Kannada Chaluvali (movement) leader Vatal Nagaraj said the bandh was a "total success".


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