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Pro-Kannada outfits call off Bengaluru bandh on Sunday after Karnataka HC terms it 'unconstitutional'

Pro-Kannada organisations called off the bandh in Bengaluru on Sunday, which was meant to coincide with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election rally in the city, after the Karnataka High Court on Friday termed it "unconstitutional".

The high court stayed the bandh, called by pro-Kannada farmers' groups in the city, on Sunday on the Mahadayi water dispute issue. Passing an interim order, a division bench of acting Chief Justice HG Ramesh and Justice PS Dinesh Kumar asked the Siddaramaiah government to take appropriate steps to prevent breakdown of law and order on that date.

The same pro-Kannada organisations had called for the shutdown last week during BJP chief Amit Shah's visit to the state. The protesters will instead observe a "black day" on Sunday, reported News18.

File image of protest in Bengaluru. Ayswarya Murthy/101Reporters

File image of protest in Bengaluru. Ayswarya Murthy/101Reporters

The high court bench observed that the bandh calls given by Kannada Chalavali Vatal Paksha on 25 January and 4 February "violate(s) the democratic rights of citizens".

The bandh was called to protest the "inaction" by the central and state governments to resolve the Mahadayi river water sharing row.

"Earlier, the prominent judgements of Supreme Court had declared bandhs by political parties and others as unconstitutional, and hence it is appropriate for this honourable court to adhere to the order as it violates the democratic rights of the citizens," the bench observed.

The petition was filed by Bengaluru-based 'Shraddha Parents Association' seeking a direction from the court to term the bandh calls unconstitutional. The bench also considered the petitioner's submission that bandhs resulted in loss to the nation in so many ways, other than damaging public or private properties.

The petitioner also sought a direction to government to take steps to prevent initiation of bandhs by any organisation.

Politicians bicker 

Speaking to News18, Kannada leader and ex-MLA Vatal Nagaraj, who called for the bandh on Sunday, said: "The people of Mumbai-Karnataka region have no drinking water. We are demanding our share of the river." He also alleged that the BJP-led government in Goa was acting like an "enemy country" while challenging Modi that if he wanted their votes, "he must speak for us".

The Congress-led state government in Karnataka dismissed allegations of batting for the bandh during the prime minister's visit. "I am not so cheap to back a bandh opposing prime minister’s visit," News18 quoted Chief Minister Siddaramaiah as saying.

Modi is set to address a massive BJP rally in Bengaluru on Sunday that marks the conclusion of the party's 90-day Nava Nirman Parivarthan yatra across poll-bound Karnataka. "Modi will arrive in the city on Sunday afternoon and address the rally at the Palace grounds in the evening. Thousands of our cadres from across the state and people from the city will participate in the event," a party official told IANS.

In the run-up to the state election, due in late April and early May, the BJP conducted the yatra, criss-crossing nearly all the 224 constituencies of the Assembly across the state after its national president Amit Shah flagged it off in November.

With inputs from agencies

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Published Date: Feb 03, 2018 15:26 PM | Updated Date: Feb 04, 2018 13:31 PM

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