Activists of pro-Kannada group, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike took to the streets on Wednesday, December 27 pulling down English signboards in various areas of Bengaluru threatening owners of commercial establishments to install boards in Kannada.
The Bengaluru municipal corporation, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has issued notices to commercial establishments to prominently display signage in Kannada and the deadline for the same is February 28. The pro-Kannada activists, in addition to staging demonstrations at key locations such as Phoenix Mall of Asia, Airport Road, MG Road, Lavelle road and Vittal Mallya road issued warnings to shops, urging them to swiftly install billboards in the local language.
Reports state that private hotels were specifically targeted during the protest, with demonstrators defacing nameboards under the pretext of advocating for Kannada signage on the premises. Visuals from the protests depict acts of vandalism. Narayanaswamy Gowda, President of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, asserted, "Protesting is my right. My protest is peaceful. People coming from outside, from Hindi states are..."
Gowda warned that while the police may have intervened today, such protection won't be guaranteed every day. “On Kannada land, you have to respect Kannadigas. Today the cops saved you, but they won’t be there everyday,” he said.
A video from the incident shows a protester pulling down an English signboard at a salon and spa, with a convoy of individuals in red and yellow scarves passing by. Another video showed protestors staging a demonstration outside an Airtel store, where one individual defaced the sign by spraying black paint over the store's red, English signboard. The protestors also vandalised some signs which had names in Kannada.
The activists were demanding the swift enforcement of a directive from BBMP instructing enterprises to allocate 60% of their signage in Kannada. This directive followed discussions with Karnataka Rakshana Vedike. BBMP had recently issued a stern warning, threatening to cancel the trade licenses of commercial establishments under its jurisdiction if they failed to prominently feature Kannada on their display boards, occupying as much as 60% of space, by the approaching deadline of February 28.