The Bengaluru police on Saturday detained over a hundred protesters from different pro-Kannada organisations gathered at Town Hall to protest the formation of the Maratha Development Corporation, The Hindu reported.
Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha chief Vatal Nagaraj and Narayana Gowda, the president of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, were among those detained. Nagaraj accused Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa of anti-Kannada stance for subduing the protest and claimed that 30,000 protesters across the state were detained.
The pro-Kannada outfits are protesting against the formation of the Maratha body announced by Yediyurappa for the “overall development of Maratha people”, according to the Hindustan Times. Various factions, including those from Gowda’s outfit, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Jaya Karnataka, Hasiru Sena, Karnataka Nava Nirmana Sena, Ola and Uber taxi drivers’ association, auto-rickshaw drivers association and a few others have called for the 12-hour strike.
The main rally was being held at Freedom Park, while smaller demonstrations were staged at different areas of the city. Pro-Kannada activists marched from Mekhri Circle towards the chief minister’s residence, reported The Times of India.
Yediyurappa appealed to the organisations to not observe the bandh. “Kannada has been given importance and we will do even more for promoting the language,” he said on Friday. The chief minister assured the people that the development board was for the welfare of the Maratha community and not to promote Marathi language as some feared.
Tension often prevails between Kannadigas and Marathis at several border areas between Karnataka and Maharashtra, including Belagavi and Bidar areas.
Buses and other transports services in Bengaluru remained unaffected. The state government had hinted that bus and train services would run as per the normal schedule.
Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant earlier said the outfits have not sought permission for the shutdown. He said that action will be taken against people trying to forcefully shut down business and commercial establishments.
As part of the strike, two incidents of stone-pelting buses were reported in Chandapura and KR Puram. Many shops in Chickpet and Gandhinagar commercial areas of the city had shut down. However, the bandh showed a lukewarm response in other parts of the state.
In Hubballi and Dharwad cities, normalcy remained with public transport plying and shops and commercial establishments functional. The police made some preventive arrests in some regions, including Dharwad and Gadag, when members of pro-Kannada organisations tried to block the road.
Raichur and Yadgir districts remained unaffected. “There are no reports of forceful closure of any shops and trades,” said Yadgir Superintendent of Police Rishikesh Sonawane. “If found, we will book the case.”