The Karnataka High Court on Friday stayed the shutdown called by a coalition of pro-Kannada organisations led by Vatal Nagaraj on the issue of Mahadayi dispute on February 4, the same day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to arrive in Bengaluru.
This after a division bench led by Acting Chief Justice HG Raamesh recalled an earlier Supreme Court ruling declaring bandhs as illegal. The court also directed the state government to ensure that the common man and businesses were not affected in anyway
Speaking to TNM, Mudit Kundlia, the counsel for the petitioners said, “The Karnataka HC has stayed the bandh happening on February 4 as it is unconstitutional and illegal. The government has been directed to take safety precautions and measures.
“The state government should make sure that no bandh happens. The state government directly or indirectly supported the bandh on January 25. This should not happen this time. The state officers were not functioning. Buses were not running, it was a total shutdown. All of this is unconstitutional,” said Mudit.
On January 25, the same day that a state-wide bandh had been called on the Mahadayi water dispute, a PIL was filed by Shraddha Parents Association seeking the court’s direction to declare the two bandhs – January 25 and February 4 – as illegal. The other prayers in the petition was to direct protesting groups such as Vatal Nagaraj to submit Rs 500 crore security. The petitioners argued that in the last year, there had been more than 12 such strikes that affects not only the economy but also children’s education.
The January 25 bandh, however, resulted in partial suspension of public services and disruption of normal life in most parts of the state. While schools and colleges had declared a holiday in Bengaluru, BMTC buses were largely off the road, with several employees striking work.
Following this, on January 29 the High Court issued notices to the state government and Vatal Nagaraj seeking their response to the issue of economical loss caused due to the strike.
The February 4 bandh was called by pro-Kannada organisations led by Vatal Nagaraj to draw the Prime Minister’s attention to the decades-long water sharing dispute with neighbouring Goa.