How Karnataka responded to bandhs in 2016 over Cauvery issue
Pro-Kannada outfits have called for a bandh tomorrow over the Mahadayi river water sharing issue and the normal life across the state is likely to come to a standstill. A 12-hour bandh, from 6 am to 6 pm, has been called by veteran activist and former MLA Vatal Nagaraj-led 'Kannada Okkuta' and other fringe outfits. They are demanding the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Mahadayi river water sharing row between Karnataka and neighbouring Goa.
In 2016, Karnataka witnessed four bandhs, out of which the two major shutdowns were in September and October 2016 over Cauvery issue. On September 9, 2016, Farmers groups as well as pro-Karnataka activist groups called for the strike after the Supreme Court directed the state to release 15,000 cusecs of water daily for 10 days to Tamil Nadu.
Then on October 13, 2016, another dawn-to-dusk Karnataka bandh was called by pro-Kannada outfits, to protest against the Supreme Court's direction to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
Transport services were then hit with government buses staying off the roads while auto-rickshaw and cab unions also extended their support to the bandh. Metro services in the country's IT hub was also halted then.
Normal life did indeed come to a grinding halt in 2016, more so during the October 13 bandh. The bandh has evoked a positive response from various parts of the state including Mandya, Mysuru, Ballari, Koppala, Chikkaballapura, Dharwad and Kolar. In Mandya, the epicenter of the Cauvery protests, agitators have blocked the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway at several places. A section of farmers in the district staged a protest by venturing into the river carrying stones on their head.
But, it was reported that the bandh over Cauvery issue evoked lukewarm response from coastal Karnataka and some parts of North Karnataka.
So now it remains to be seen how much tomorrow's bandh will impact the state. However, services in Hubbali and other parts of northern Karnataka are likely to be severely hit as the epicentre of the protests is in those areas. The Karnataka State Government Employees' Association has extended support to the bandh. There is another bandh called for in Bengaluru on February 4 over the same issue.
Vatal Nagaraj, president of the Kannada Okkoota, expressed confidence that the bandh will be successful, with many government employees' associations extending their support.