Bengaluru had been peaceful, even during the bandh called for the Cauvery dispute on Friday last week, but there was unprecedented violence on Monday; Bengalureans across the city were caught unawares.
Many IT, consulting and other organisations closed their offices early and sent their employees home. Young Kripa Fernandez, who works in a consulting firm, told Firstpost that her company closed the office at 3 or 4 pm and evacuated their premises, but she got the notification only at 5 pm, as she was working on a client site at Sarjapur. "Essentially, I had no idea of the violence in the city. My home is 15 kilometres away in Langford town. I stepped out at 7 pm to try and get an Uber taxi, but the Uber drivers kept cancelling, as Sarjapur had been declared a sensitive area. I finally got an Ola share and took a deviation of 5 kms. So I travelled 20 kilometres to reach home. But everything was completely normal and there was no trouble on the way," said Kripa.
Many Bengalureans had experiences similar to Kripa’s. Either they were caught unawares, when their offices closed at 2 or 3 pm, to find a safe passage home or found that their families’ worries were unfounded as most of the roads were safe. Some of them drove home through roads that had contingents of policemen and shops that had downed their shutters, while others who were dependent on buses or cabs, walked home, some of them eaching home as late as 8 pm.
Another young professional, NV Vidhuth, who works in a financial consultancy firm in CBD, told Firstpost, that his colleagues and he had come to a client location on Bennerghata road in one car, thinking that they could finish and go back to the office within an hour and pick up their own cars. But when the trouble started, their office told them to go home. “As I live in BTM layout, I decided to walk the 500/600 meters home.” Today, their office, which had declared an optional holiday for Eid al-Adha told all its employees to work from home.
On Monday, school administrations also closed their schools early and informed the parents to pick up their children. Many children were seen to be standing outside their closed school gates, waiting for their parents to pick them up. While those travelling by schools buses, were comparatively safe, those children who had to be picked up by their parents had a harrowing wait, until their parents reached the schools to pick them up. Some children walked home on their own, passing protestors on the roads.
Instead of panicking, the schools administrations should have been calm and retained the children safely inside their premises, until their parents and guardians picked them up. Letting off the children loose on the roads only added to the panic.
On social media, on Whatsapp groups, Twitter and Facebook, people were sharing pictures of the areas that were most affected and informed others about which areas to avoid and how they could have a safe passage home. "Take care," and "Our prayers with you," were common messages put out in Whatsapp groups.
Bengalureans took to Twitter:
If anyone is stuck in Koramangala,
I have a home here with lots of water and food. Please feel free to reach out.#CauveryProtests
— Mahesh Vikram Hegde (@mvmeet) September 12, 2016
Soon, a map of the troubled zones was doing the rounds on Whatsapp. “This is not a map created by Google, but a private individual,” it read. However, by Tuesday morning this map was taken down, with a message under titled Bangalore Help stating, “all verified points were removed and map vandalized. We’ve moved to a closed map with verified data.” There were several messages on Whatsapp groups on whether Section 144 had really been imposed or whether the media and news channels were exaggerating. These speculations stopped, when the Bengaluru police confirmed it through a tweet.
Tuesday on occassion of Eid al-Adha, most schools and offices are closed, but many organisations, who have already lost a lot of man-hours have issued instructions to their employees to clock in their hours from home. Most of the shops in the Central Business District, have their shutters half drawn and residents have been able to go in and replenish their provisions.
There’s thin traffic on the roads, with most offices and shops having downed their shutters. Restaurants which downed the shutters yesterday are still closed. However petrol bunks and medical shops have opened.
Local corporators have also been putting out messages in Kannada on social media platforms warning people, especially youth against taking law into their own hands. One message from Soumya Shivakumar, corporator for Shantinagar constituency ward 117, loosely translated said:
“The police is taking action on those who create problem. Like burning vehicles etc. CC camera around the place, will record every action and with evidence they can file a case. You will be behind bars. It will cost a lot of money to release you. They will trouble you all your life. Your career is at stake. Do not listen to people who encourage you to do this. Do not spoil your future. Plan things in a better way where you have a peaceful procession to meet to meet your demands.”
The government too has been tweeting frequently about the situation, sending out messages like these on Twitter and Facebook:
— Secretary (DM) (@SEOC_Karnataka) September 13, 2016
Let’s hope that peaceful and cosmopolitan Bengaluru is able to put behind the ugly incidents of Monday, move on and retain its name as a trouble free global IT destination.