Normal life was paralysed in the IT hub of Bangalore and districts in the Cauvery belt on Monday following a bandh called by pro-Kannada outfits to protest the award of Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal.
Bangalore wore a deserted look with the normal hustle and bustle missing, as buses, auto-rikshaws and taxis kept off the roads and shops and other commercial establishments downed shutters. Though most IT companies remained closed, some made arrangements for their employees to work from home. Attendance in government offices was low and transactions in banks was badly affected.
Groups of Kannada activists staged protests in front of the airport and the city railway station but were rounded up by the police, who are keeping a close vigil with 20,000 personnel deployed in the city alone with back-up by paramilitary forces.
The bandh evoked near-total response in the Cauvery belt, particularly in the volatile districts of Mandya, Mysore and Chamarajnagar, but the overall situation remained calm.
Nearly 70,000 police and other security personnel are on duty during the statewide bandh, which however evoked a mixed response in north Karnataka. The road and rail traffic between Bangalore-Mysore was crippled. Some flights were either rescheduled or combined or cancelled, sources at different airlines said.
Police have clamped prohibitory orders from 6 am on Monday to 6 am on Tuesday in Bangalore, banning assembly of five or more persons. Schools and colleges have declared a holiday. Cinema halls are also closed.
Activities in the Kannada film industry have also halted as the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce has extended its support for the bandh.
The bandh cast its shadow on the Sony Ericson WTA championship, which will now start from Tuesday, after having lost sheen with star attraction and former world number one Serena Williams pulling out of the event citing illness.
Unhappy with the award that came after 17 years, Karnataka has said it will file a revision petition before the tribunal within the stipulated 90 days seeking a review of its award. The bandh was originally called by pro-Kannada organisations, including Kannada Chaluvali Leader Vatal Nagaraj, a lone member of his Kannada outfit, and other organisations for February eight but was rescheduled for Monday.