Police foil attempt to burn CM’s effigy

As many as 50 members of various Kannada organisations were detained in Kalaburagi on Saturday while they were protesting against the State government’s decision to set up a Maratha Development Board.

The bandh call had no major impact on normal life, other than sporadic protests and demonstrations for a couple of hours. Commercial establishments functioned as usual. Autorickshaws and buses also continued to operate.

Members of Kannada Sanghatanegala Okkoota gathered at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Chowk and raised slogans against the State government and Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and demanded the abolishing of the newly-formed Maratha Development Board as it was promoting Marathi over Kannada. Criticising the government for setting aside ₹50 crore for the board, the agitators claimed that the BJP government’s move to create the new board was to woo the Maratha vote bank for the upcoming byelections.

A group of agitators also performed ‘Urulu Seve’ at the SVP chowk before they were arrested by the police. The police also foiled the bid by Kannada Rakshina Vedike activists to burn an effigy of Mr. Yediyurappa.

The police have made elaborate security arrangements in the city to prevent any untoward incidents. The district police had deployed two teams of Karnataka State Reserve Police and seven platoons of District Armed Reserve Police. Two teams of KSPR attached to the police commissionerate were also deployed.

In Belagavi

The bandh had little impact on life in Belagavi. All government and private offices, shops, colleges, banks, and other establishments were open. Buses ran as usual, as also private vehicles. A few activists who came to the Rani Channamma Circle for a protest were arrested. Police were extra cautious in ensuring there was no disturbance in the city that played host to the BJP State executive committee meeting. “We rounded up about 60 activists on Friday. They have been released after seeking bonds for good behaviour,” said an officer.

They deputed additional forces in sensitive areas including Maratha-dominated areas in the old city – Tilakwadi, Peeranwadi, Shahapur and Yallur.

In Yadgir, Raichur

The bandh failed to get a good response in Yadgir and Raichur districts. However, activists submitted a memorandum to authorities and urged the government to withdraw its order forming the authority. Business establishments, commercial shops, APMC, and other trades continued business as usual. Public and private transportation was normal. NEKRTC operated its bus services without any hurdles.

Congress leaders extended outside support. MLA Basanagowda Daddal, former MP B.V. Naik, former MLC N.S. Bose Raju visited the spot. Some activists protested by carrying bricks on their heads. They shouted slogans against the government saying that it was giving preference to Marathi-speaking people despite several incidents of atrocities on Kannadigas by MES men in Belagavi. No untoward incident occurred and protests were peaceful, the police said.

In Ballari

In Ballari and Koppal, the agitation was largely confined to symbolic protests. In Ballari, the issue of bifurcation of the district to carve out new Vijayanagara district was also clubbed. Activists associated with different factions of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike and other civil society groups gathered at Gadagi Chennappa Circle and staged a demonstration for a few minutes. They raised slogans against the State government for forming Maratha Development Corporation and spending the Kannadigas’ money to the Marathi speaking people. Members of another group who were heading towards the district administrative complex were detained by the police. They also raised slogans opposing the bifurcation of Ballari district as well.

Kannada Sainya activists wore black badges on their shoulders to register their opposition to the Maratha Development Corporation.

In Koppal, Kannada activists, led by Pampanna Naik, district president, Karnataka Rakashana Vedike (Praveen Shetty faction), demonstrated yoga poses at the agitation site.

“Marathi people have been troubling Kannadigas in one or the other way. When Karnataka celebrates Unification Day on November 1 every year, Marathis in Belagavi mark it as a Black Day. These are the people who had opposed the installation of Sangolli Rayanna’s statue. The BJP government has decided to form Maratha Development Corporation with an eye on the imminent byelection and we strongly oppose it,” Mr. Naik said during the agitation.

The agitating activists also attempted to bring the government’s attention to more important issues than the formation of Maratha Development Corporation.

“Several issues are affecting the people in Koppal and elsewhere in the State. Kalyana Karnataka is backward and the government needs to come up with a separate budget for its growth. The silt in Tungabhadra is a cause for concern and the government should think about dredging it. Farmers are suffering as prices of produce are constantly falling. The government should focus on addressing these real issues instead of forming Maratha Development Corporation,” an activist said.

Later a memorandum was submitted to the office of Deputy Commissioner.

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