Taxi drivers and members of various Kannada groups came together for a protest rally from the Bengaluru City Railway station to Freedom Park on Thursday. This was part of the 12-hour Karnataka bandh, called for by a coalition of pro-Kannada organisations demanding the implementation of the Sarojini Mahishi report. The report recommends job reservations for Kannadigas in the state.
Initially, the police said that they had not granted any permission for the rally, however, the people began gathering at the City railway station. When enough numbers had gathered, the rally began at around 11.30 am towards Freedom park. The people walked all the way, shouting slogans, waving the Karnataka flag.
Also among the crowd was a group of traditional Karnataka drummers, Dolu Kunitha. They played drums and danced to the beat as others joined in with the dancing.
When the rally finally reached the Freedom park, they began speaking about their demand for the reservations, and played music.
Speaking to TNM, Salim, a B.Com graduate who runs a water treatment plant in the city, says “I recently went to a private bank in the city, and they can’t speak Kannada and asked me to speak in English. I can’t speak English. What is the meaning of this? I don’t understand. I can’t use the services of the bank in my own language, in the capital city of my state? This just shows how other state people have taken jobs in the city. Whether it is Muslims, Dalits or others, Kannadigas are not getting jobs in Bengaluru. We demand that the jobs in the city are reserved for Kannadigas, or else where will we go for jobs? This is our hometown,” he adds.
“I am a cab driver, and the people who take my cab are 90% people who cannot even speak Kannada. This means that people from other places are coming here to work, and not picking up the language. There needs to be more Kannadigas working here, and we can only get that through reservations,” said Raghavendra, a driver who didn’t take any passengers and instead joined in the protest.