Karnataka shutdown over Yeddyurappa prosecution turns violent


Bangalore : Buses were burnt, stones were pelted and shops were attacked across Karnataka to enforce a shutdown called by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Saturday to protest Governor H.R. Bhardwaj’s sanction for Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s prosecution on corruption charges.

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Hundreds of people were stranded at bus terminals and rail stations in Bangalore and in major towns in the state as government-run buses went off the roads as the BJP’s 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Karnataka ‘bandh’ (shutdown) took effect.

Schools and colleges were shut for the day fearing violence. Attendance in government offices and banks was minimal as only those could reach their work places who caught the early morning buses or dared to use their own vehicles.

The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, which provides city transport, and the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation that runs buses across the state, withdrew most of their fleets after 10 a.m. as mobs took to hurling stones at several places.

The main Bangalore city bus stand and the adjoining rail station were swarming with passengers who did not know how to reach their destinations.

A few autos and taxis that were willing to risk possible attack and took passengers made a killing, charging the hapless people exorbitant fare.

BMTC and KSRTC spokespersons here said the coerporations have stopped services after receiving reports of stone pelting at many places.

The Bangalore city police commissioner imposed prohibitory orders in the capital for two days, banning assembly of five or more persons at a place, but that did not deter hundreds of BJP supporters from going round the city in mobs to ensure the shutdown was total.

BJP activists and supporters also held a rally at the Mahatma Gandhi Circle in the heart of the city. Carrying placards, they denounced Bhardwaj for sanctioning the filing of criminal cases against Yeddyurappa.

Addressing the rally, BJP general secretary and Lok Sabha member from Bangalore South constituency H.N. Ananth Kumar said Bhardwaj’s action was “illegal and politically motivated”.

“We will fight it and the BJP government will last its full term of five years,” he asserted.

The party came to power for the first time in Karnataka in May 2008 with Yeddyurappa as the chief minister.

The bus burning, stone throwing and forcible shutdown of shops in Bangalore took place despite the city police deploying around 18,000 personnel to maintain law and order on the city roads.

Reports of BJP workers taking out rallies came from all 30 districts of the state. At some of the places, including Yeddyurappa’s home district of Shimoga, about 280 km from Bangalore, trains were blocked for about half an hour.

The shutdown, however, would not affect most IT firms as Saturday is holiday for them.

BJP workers in north Karnataka towns of Hubli, Bidar, Gulbarga, Haveri and Mysore, Tumkur, and other districts in south began protests late Friday itself after Bhardwaj’s sanction to file criminal cases against Yeddyurappa.

The permission to launch criminal proceedings against Yeddyurappa was sought by two Bangalore-based advocates, Sirajin Basha and K.N. Balaraj, Dec 28 following the revelation that Yeddyurappa had favoured his kin with prime land in and around Bangalore.