Pro-Kannada groups had called for a bandh across Karnataka against the government’s decision to set up a Maratha Development Board.

Pro Kannada protesters being detained from Bengaluru town hall during Karnataka bandh
news Karnataka bandh Saturday, December 05, 2020 - 12:00

Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha President Vatal Nagaraj and over 500 other activists of pro-Kannada groups were detained from Bengaluru’s Town Hall on Friday morning while they were protesting against the Karnataka government’s decision to set up a Maratha Development Board. Pro-Kannada groups had called for a bandh across Karnataka on Saturday, but it has had no major impact on normal life so far, other than sporadic protests and demonstrations by burning effigies.

Activists of several Kannada organisations had gathered at Bengaluru’s Town Hall for staging demonstrations. They raised slogans against the BS Yediyurappa-led government. However, since the police had not granted permission for the bandh or for the protests, police detained around 500 activists belonging to seven different pro-Kannada groups. 

Vatal Nagaraj and other Kannada groups had planned to hold a protest rally in the city from Town Hall to Freedom Park, against the government's decision, but they were detained on Friday morning itself. The  police in Bengaluru have made elaborate security arrangements in the city to see to that no untoward incidents take place.

Sporadic protests were also reported in Chamarajanagara, Bengaluru Rural, Gadag, Koppa, Hassan, Ramanagara, Chitradurga, Davangere, Bagalkote, Chikkamagaluru, Mandya among other districts so far. Security has been beefed up around Chief Minister's official residence and home office in Bengaluru, where some activists have planned to lay siege. Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa is in Belagavi to attend the BJP's state executive meeting.

Meanwhile, the statewide bandh saw a lukewarm response in Bengaluru, with auto rickshaws, cabs, public transport buses and metro services are available. Hotels and provision stores were open as well. 

Also read: Karnataka bandh sees lukewarm response, stray protests held across state 

Yediyurappa on Friday had urged the pro-Kannada groups not to go ahead with the bandh, calling it "unnecessary," as he asserted that Kannadigas and Kannada was his government's utmost priority. Earlier, he had clarified that the decision to set up a Maratha Development Corporation had nothing to do with the Marathi language, and it is for the Maratha community residing in the state.

The government's decision to create a body for the Maratha community is seen as a move by the ruling BJP to woo the community ahead of the Belagavi Lok Sabha, Maski and Basavakalyan assembly bypolls, which are yet to be announced. The community is said to have considerable presence there. The government had earlier announced the setting up of the Maratha Development Authority, but subsequently changed it to corporation, as authority has to be constituted by a law, by passing an act in the legislature.

Despite opposition, the government following the cabinet approval has even issued a formal order establishing the Maratha Development Corporation, with an allocation of Rs 50 crore, which has further irked the pro-Kannada groups.

With PTI inputs

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