The pro-Kannada outfit Karnataka Rakshana Vedike on Wednesday targeted several shops in prominent business centres of Bengaluru for not using Kannada in their storefront nameplates, PTI reported.

Representatives of the outfit held protests across Bengaluru demanding immediate implementation of the state government’s rule that at least 60% of an establishment’s signboard must be written in Kannada.

This came after Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Chief Commissioner Tushar Giri Nath said on Monday that commercial establishments in Bengaluru have till February 28, 2024, to comply with the rule.

The Karnataka Rakshana Vedika, however, had set a December 27 deadline for all establishments in Bengaluru to implement the rule, reported The Indian Express.

Several members of the outfit on Wednesday damaged the English-language signboards of shops and businesses in commercial hubs, including MG Road, Brigade Road, Lavelle Road, UB City, Chamarajapet, Chickpet and even the Kempegowda International Airport.

In videos shared on social media, they could be seen tearing down and spraying black paint on some English language signboards.

The signboards were “undermining the official language of Karnataka, which is Kannada”, NDTV quoted the group’s members as saying.

The police took several protestors, including Karnataka Rakshana Vedike convener TA Narayana Gowda, into preventive custody.

“We are not against some business but if you are doing business in Karnataka then you have to respect our language,” Gowda was quoted as saying. “If you ignore Kannada, or put Kannada letters in small [print], we will not let you operate here.”

He also said that the Phoenix Mall of Asia in Hebbal was ignoring the outfit’s demand to put up Kannada signboards, reported the Hindustan Times.

“Today police are providing full protection to the Mall of Asia but tomorrow who will provide protection?” said Gowda. “Tomorrow again our activists will protest, till our demand is fulfilled.”

The Mall of Asia and the Phoenix Marketcity in Whitefield were closed on Wednesday due to the protests, reported The News Minute.

Nath on Monday said that if establishments failed to meet the deadline imposed by the civic agency, they could lose their trade licenses and face legal action.

Also read: The Daily Fix: Pro-Kannada protests in Karnataka are a reminder of the dangers of language politics