Karnataka bandh over Cauvery dispute disrupts normal life, leading to the cancellation of 44 flights at Bengaluru airport.

A dawn-to-dusk bandh was organized by pro-Kannada activists who opposed the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, causing disruptions to normal life in Bengaluru and various parts of the state. Fortunately, Bengaluru remained relatively peaceful with no significant incidents. On September 26, farmers and pro-Kannada groups called for a strike, but it received only a partial response.

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At Kempegowda International Airport, 44 flights (comprising 22 outgoing and 22 incoming flights) were canceled due to operational issues. This represented less than 7 percent of the daily average air traffic of approximately 650 flights. Anticipating the bandh, many passengers had already canceled their tickets, leading to flight cancellations due to low occupancy.

On September 29, five pro-Kannada activists were detained at the airport for attempting to block the runway after entering with valid flight tickets. Another group of protestors gathered at the airport’s arrival gate, voicing opposition to the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu and were also taken into preventive detention by the police. Authorities clarified that there was no protest on the runway.

Bengaluru International Airport Limited (BIAL) issued an advisory to passengers on September 28, urging them to follow alerts from airlines, law enforcement agencies, and media releases.

In response to the bandh call, the state government declared a holiday for educational institutions in Bengaluru and allowed employees to work from home, resulting in reduced traffic. Fewer app-based cabs and auto-rickshaws were seen on the roads, and many residents left the city on September 27 due to the extended holidays.

Hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, and commercial establishments remained closed across the city and the state, while delivery services continued unaffected. Prominent commercial areas like Church Street, Brigade Road, MG Road, and Commercial Street appeared deserted.

Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) operated 3,587 out of 5,602 schedules, with fewer passengers at major bus terminuses like Kempegowda Bus Terminus. Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operated 58.75 percent of schedules until 1 pm, but footfall at bus terminuses remained low.

The government declared holidays for schools and colleges in districts such as Bengaluru, Mandya, Mysuru, and Hassan. Protests, including rail roko demonstrations in Mandya and Yadgir, led to the detention of several protestors. Pro-Kannada activists gathered at Freedom Park, raising slogans like ‘Cauvery is ours’ and ‘We will give blood but not Cauvery.’

Pro-Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj, who called for the Karnataka Bandh, was detained at Town Hall. Prominent Kannada actors Shiva Raj Kumar, Upendra, and Darshan participated in the protest, supported by the Karnataka Film Chamber Of Commerce (KFCC), resulting in the closure of movie theatres and multiplexes.

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar expressed that a Karnataka bandh was unnecessary, and in various regions of Karnataka, police imposed Section 144 of the CrPC to maintain law and order. The bandh found success in districts like Bengaluru Urban, Mandya, Mysuru, Hassan, Chamarajanagar, and Ramanagara.

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