Karnataka shuts down over sharing Cauvery water (Third Lead)

Bengaluru, Sep 9 (IANS) Karnataka shut down on Friday to protest against the release of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu, with hundreds of IT firms and multinationals crippled in India’s technology hub Bengaluru.

Global software firms and many start-ups declared holiday for thousands of techies in support of the shutdown, which crippled life across the state. Buses, cabs and autos stayed off roads while hotels, pubs, shops and banks remained closed.

“We will work on the next weekend to make up for the loss,” an Infosys spokesperson told IANS. A Wipro spokesperson said the company was closed on Friday but would work on Saturday, which is normally an off day.

About 500 Indian and overseas IT firms have closed for the day due to the absence of public and private transport, an official of the Electronics City Industrial Township Authority said.

Though the protest did not affect trains and flights, hundreds of passengers who alighted at the international airport here and at railway stations were stranded in the absence of buses and cabs.

“We have been caught unaware by the shutdown and are stranded at the railway station since morning,” said a passenger who came from Pune with his family.

“It is unfortunate Bengaluru is facing many shutdowns over some or the other issue,” lamented S.N. Murthy, a techie with a leading IT firm.

State-run Bengaluru Metro Rail Corp suspended its service till late evening.

The Karnataka government declared a holiday for all schools and colleges to avoid inconvenience to students and teachers in the absence of transport.

Similarly, factories, offices, banks, markets, shops, malls, hotels, eateries, pubs, bars, theatres and petrol bunks closed in support of the shutdown.

“The shutdown is in protest against the Supreme Court’s order and to express resentment over the government releasing the Cauvery water when we don’t have it for drinking and irrigation,” said a strike leader, Vatal Nagaraj.

There were also huge protests by farmers, traders and youth in the Mysuru region.

Hundreds of people staged demonstrations and took out rallies in Bengaluru, Mandya, Mysuru and other cities and towns.

About 5,000 people, including Kannada film stars, producers and directors, marched in a procession from Town Hall to Freedom Park in Bengaluru and urged the government to stop releasing water to Tamil Nadu.

Though the shutdown was peaceful, protesters burnt tyres in the centre of roads and highways to prevent movement of even private vehicles.

Mock funerals of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his Tamil Nadu counterpart Jayalalithaa were conducted in Bengaluru, Mandya, Davangere and Tumakuru.

Posters and placards carrying pictures of Siddaramaiah and Jayalalithaa were garlanded and slapped with footwear and carried on donkeys to express anger.

“We will give our blood but not Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. How can the government release our water to grow crops in another state when we don’t have enough of it for drinking?” asked an activist, Pravin Shetty.

–IANS

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