Members of the Valmiki community staged a protest in Bengaluru seeking 7.5% reservation for the community in the state.
The protest led to a traffic logjam in and around the Vidhana Soudha on Tuesday morning after protesters brought traffic to a standstill near the state secretariat building and at the Karnataka High Court opposite to it.
The protesting community members then converged at Freedom Park to continue their protest. "The reservation set aside for our community is 7.5 per cent as per central government rules but it is only 3% as per state government rules. We are here to demand that the state government should give 7.5% reservation as well. We are a numerically strong community and make up the bulk of the Scheduled Tribes living in Karnataka," says Narasimha Murthy, a 44-year-old protester who arrived in Bengaluru on Tuesday morning.
Others at the protest had taken longer and more exhausting routes to reach Bengaluru. A section of the protesters arrived in the city after walking from Rajanahalli in Davanagere district to Bengaluru, a distance of 280 km.
"We began from Rajanahalli on June 9. We decided to hold the padayatra because the reservation for our community is not enough. There are many 30-35 year olds who are struggling to get jobs. The reservation should be decided based on population," says Manjunath Kandigal from Davanagere speaking on the sidelines of the protest.
Manjunath claimed that there are 70 lakh members of the community living in Karnataka. The protesters resisted attempts by the police to evict them from Freedom Park and insisted that a government official should step out and listen to their concerns.
Actor turned politician and former MP from Chitradurga Shashi Kumar of the JD(S) was present at the protest while BJP MLA B Sriramulu has also expressed his support for the protest. Sriramulu is considered one of the biggest leaders belonging to the Valmiki community.
State ministers including power minister DK Shivakumar was held up in the traffic logjam caused by the protest. He got down from his car and decided to travel in the metro instead surprising commuters inside the metro, some of whom clicked selfies with the minister.