Protests by local Kannadiga groups, against the participation of candidates from other states for the recruitment of 4,700 'D' group employees of Railways, spread to different parts of the state on Wednesday.
Besides activists of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, the protests are now being supported by heads of different Hindu religious institutions and political leaders from Karnataka.
KRV activists, who began the protests from January 3, today raided the Divisional Railway office in Bangalore, forced the staff out and locked it up. Police arrested more than 100 activists and unlocked the office.
The activists are opposing the participation of eligible candidates from other states for the recruitment of 'D' group employees, on the ground that they jeopardised the employment opportunities for the local youth.
With Karnataka poised for assembly polls, the protests were backed by political parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, which promised to take up the issue with the Centre.
A group of KRV men barged into an examination Centre in Yeswanthpur, disrupted the examination process and scared away the aspirants, police said.
Some people have been taken into custody in this connection, said the police, but could not specify the number of people arrested.
Meanwhile, the Pontiff of Chitradurga Bruhan Mut Sri Murugarajendra Swami plunged into the agitation, resorting to rail roko at Chitradurga, police said.
The Kannada Border Forum, led by Kannada Chaluvali leader Vatal Nagaraj, today staged a protest in front of the Raj Bhavan, demanding scrapping of the recruitment process and classical language status for Kannada language.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa of the BJP, who also demanded that the recruitment process be shelved, asked Governor Rameshwar Thakur to take up the issue with the Centre.
Union Minister for Highways K H Muniyappa said he will write to Railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Union Minister of state for Labour Oscar Fernandes promised to take up the issue with the Railway Ministry after KRV activists surrounded him to convey their protest at a meeting in Bangalore on Tuesday.
BJP Member of Parliament Basanagouda R Patil and Janata Dal-Secular MP Shivanna have submitted separate memorandum to the Railway Minister while BJP MP Prahallad Joshi participated in the KRV dharna in Hubli, demanding justice for the locals.
The protests continued despite clarifications from Railway officials that the process of recruitment was fair and the advertisement notices were published in all Kannada dailies.