Stray incidents of violence marked a shutdown in Karnataka on Saturday demanding the early implementation of a canal project to supply river water to the state’s parched districts.
“Barring stray incidents of burning tyres at traffic junctions and forcible closure of shops in some areas by pro-Kannada activists, the shutdown was peaceful,” a police officer said.
However, the 12-hour dawn-to-dusk strike disrupted normal life in cities and towns across the state because of the absence of public and private transport and closure of shops, markets, hotels, restaurants, malls, petrol bunks and cinema theatres.
As a precautionary measure, government-run and private schools and colleges also remained closed, with many of them declaring holiday on Friday.
Thousands of passengers arriving in Bengaluru from outstations in trains and inter-state buses earlier in the day were stranded at railway stations and bus terminals.
Even at the Bengaluru airport at Devanahalli, 40 km away from the city, hundreds of passengers were held up on arrival, as taxis did not operate though their numbers were less due to Eid on Friday and weekend holiday.
The canal project involves building barrages across Kalasa and Banduri tributaries of Mahadayi river to divert 7.6 tmc (thousand million cubic) feet of water to Malaprabha river for supplying it to the three northern districts, about 500 km from Bengaluru.
As the 77 km-long Mahadayi or Mandovi river flows to Goa and Maharashtra from Karnataka on the west coast into the Arabian Sea, the former has been objecting over sharing its water, as 52 km of it stretch is in its state and is a lifeline for its people, flora and fauna.
Spearheading the 12-hour strike, regional political outfit Kannada Chalavali Vatal Paksha president Vatal Nagaraj joined hundreds of supporters, including state protection group activists at Town Hall in Bengaluru and took out a rally to Freedom Park, seeking intervention of the prime minister for implementing the project.
Security has been beefed up across the state and additional forces have been deployed in cities like Bengaluru, Mysuru, Hubballi-Dharward, Belagavi and Gadag to prevent any untoward incident.