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Prerana Toshniwal, Pune

The farmer bodies in Karnataka have called for a bandh in the city of Bengaluru on Tuesday, 26th September. Protesting against an order by the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) of, 5000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu being released. This will be followed by another state-wide bandh on Friday, 29th September.

The Cauvery dispute between the two states keeps resurfacing every time there is a shortfall in the Southwest Monsoon in the region. Just recently, Tamil Nadu took up this case to the Supreme Court of India asking Karnataka to release Cauvery water daily to support their standing crops.

The bandh on Tuesday was a 12-hour bandh from 6 AM-6 PM called by Karnataka Jalsamrakshan Samiti. Opposition parties including BJP, JD(S), and AAP have extended their support to the protest. The protests were initially planned at Freedom Park, Raj Bhawan, and Town Hall by pro-Kannada organizations, but the police had only allowed for Freedom Park. More than 200 protesters have been taken into police custody for violating the orders prohibiting them from trying to march towards Raj Bhavan from Vidhana Soudha.

The march was led by the Chairman of the Federation of Pro-Kannada organizations, Vatal Nagaraj, his deputy Praveen Shetty, and others. To control the damage of the protest, over 100 platoons were deployed all around the city of Bengaluru. The police are on a high alert taking all necessary steps to avoid any untoward incident from happening.

As a result of the bandh, all shops except those providing essentials remained shut. Schools, colleges, banks, ATMs, Government offices, transportation – public and private, and other commercial establishments also remained closed. Although hotels and restaurants are allowed to remain open in the city, the Bangalore Hoteliers Association, said it is their duty and have announced their support for the bandh. The auto drivers are also extending their support for the strike.

The farmers of Tamil Nadu in response to this have protested by holding rats in their mouths. 

CM Siddaramaiah on Monday, 25th September, said that his government would not curtail the protests but emphasized the importance of maintaining peace. The Congress-led Karnataka government had also said the state doesn’t have enough water to release.