Bengaluru: Karnataka is bracing for a state-wide shutdown on Saturday, called by pro-Kannada activists in protest against the formation of the Maratha Development Authority by the government.
“Though Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa advised activists and pro-Kannada organisations to call off the shutdown to avoid inconveniencing the public in Covid times, the organisers decided to observe it,” a state Home Department official told IANS here.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made, including the deployment of additional police personnel across the state, especially in Bengaluru and other cities to prevent untoward incidents and ensure law and order is maintained during the 12-hour shutdown.
The organisations, led by Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha Vatal Nagaraj and Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, however, exempted essential supplies and services from the dawn-to-dusk shutdown.
“As the shutdown will disrupt normal life and affect the people, especially the common man, the activists should not force closure of shops, markets, offices and prevent public transport service. They can hold peaceful protests and stage demonstrations without causing inconvenience to the people,” the official said.
The state-run Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) said they would operate the services in the city and across the state, subject to normalcy.
“The frequency of service will be reduced, as less number of people commute on a weekend and due to Covid-induced curbs on carrying more passengers in buses to contain the pandemic spread,” the official said.
Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister appealed to the Kannada organisations, especially Nagaraj to withdraw the shutdown call as it was not required.
“We are doing everything to give prominence to Kannada and its culture. No effort is spared to protect and promote the language across the state,” Yediyurappa told reporters here.
The Maratha Development Authority was set up on November 16 with Rs 50 crore corpus for the financial, social, educational and development of the Marathas living in the state over the decades, especially in the northwest and northern regions.
According to Sakala Maratha Samaj President Keshavanathrao Jadav, the Marathas have been living in Karnataka for centuries.
“Though our forefathers were from Maharashtra, we migrated to the erstwhile Mysore state to wage a war in favour of Kannadigas against the British,” he said.
The community has been urging the state government to include Marathas under the list of backward classes to benefit from reservation in jobs and seats in educational colleges.