Mandya: The people of the surrounding villages and the members of the farmers union protested by blocking the Bengaluru – Mysuru Express Highway on Monday February 20 for more than 2 hours demanding the construction of an underpass near Hanakere in the Taluk here.
This is the first time that the highway work has reached its final stage and the villagers staged a large-scale bandh and expressed their anger against the Highway Authorities. Bullock carts, tractors and cattle were parked on both sides of the highway causing traffic chaos. Vehicular traffic was disrupted for more than two hours as the vehicles were lined up for a distance of 2 km.
The villagers and farmer leaders alleged that they were demanding the construction of an underpass near Hanakere in Mandya Taluk for two years before the construction of the expressway. But the Highway Authorities did not heed their demand.
The vehicle owners were facing hardship as they were unable to move back or forward, unable to even go to the service road. The Police reached the spot and requested the protestors to stop the protest.
The protestors expressed anger against the Police when they tried to quell the mob. The farmers said they that they will protest till evening. Later, the police arranged alternative routes for the traffic in Mandya and Maddur itself.
The underpass built on the outskirts of Hanakere is outside the Village and is of no use to anyone. Due to this, the people of five or six villages are suffering. One has to walk 2 km to get from one side to the other side. The protestors demanded that an underbridge should be constructed near the village itself.
From the day the work started, there has been a demand for the construction of the underbridge, and a written request has been submitted. However, the officials of the Highway Authority are not responding to the request. The highway work is being completed and preparations are being made for the inauguration. The protestors warned that if the underbridge work does not start, they will not allow vehicular traffic on the highway.
Officials of the Highway Authority who came to the spot requested that the underbridge will be constructed as soon as permission is given, and therefore end the protest. The officers also showed the letter submitted last December in this regard. The angry farmers snatched the letter brought by the engineer and tore it, creating a tense atmosphere in the place.
During this, an argument, push and shove took place between the officers, the police and the protestors. The Police resorted to mild lathi-charge to control the situation. The villagers gave up their protest after the Authorities assured them that the underbridge work would be started soon.
The Police took Organising Secretary S. C. Maduchandan and Leader Prasanna Gowda of Raithasangha State Unit into custody, who had organised the protest. They were taken to the Rural Police Station and released later