Phoenix Mall of Asia in Hebbal and Phoenix Marketcity in Whitefield, two prominent malls in Bengaluru, were forced to shut down following protests led by the pro-Kannada organisation Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) on December 27. Police personnel were deployed outside both these malls by December 27 afternoon. Commercial establishments and shops in various other key locations in the city including MG Road, Lavelle Road, Airport Road and Hebbal were targeted. The protestors pulled down English signboards and issued warnings to shop owners.
Hundreds of pro-Kannada activists took to the streets, opposing the use of English signboards (without Kannada signage) in various parts of Bengaluru. The demonstrations turned aggressive as protestors vandalised banners and placards, demanding the immediate installation of Kannada signages. They even pulled down boards which had both English and Kannada signages, but the Kannada fonts were smaller in size.
A procession was led by KRV from Sadahalli toll plaza near Kempegowda International airport. The protestors damaged the nameboard of the multi-city hotel brand Bloom. Progressing towards Chikkajala, supporters of the group led by Kannada activist Narayanaswamy Gowda took down numerous signboards. Videos of protesters spray-painting boards, hurling boxes at LED signs and hitting boards with sticks have emerged.
Narayanaswamy Gowda said, “Whoever lives here as a Kannadiga, only they have the opportunity to live here. Be it Phoenix or someone from Mumbai, none will be spared. Each signboard should have 60% of their signage in Kannada.”
Many malls, shops, commercial buildings, companies, and factories, including multinational corporations, bore the brunt of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike's ire. Subsequently, the protestors, including Narayanaswamy Gowda, were taken into preventive custody by the police.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had a rule since 2020 that all signboards should have 60% Kannada signage. A few weeks ago, BBMP issued notices to commercial establishments, mandating commercial establishments to display 60% of their signage in Kannada. The deadline for compliance was set for February 28. However, KRV activists said that they did not believe in the deadline and shops had been given many warnings.
In Lavelle Road, which is in the heart of the city, sign boards of commercial establishments like Third Wave Coffee, Theobrama, Pernia Pop Up store, Forest Essentials and Starbucks were vandalised.