Bengaluru: A day-long shutdown to protest the release of the Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu crippled life in Karnataka on Saturday.
The state-wide shutdown called by farmers and pro-Kannada organisations is supported by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular.
Uneasy calm prevailed in Bangalore and other cities and towns of the state.
“The 12-hour shutdown began at 6am. There were stray incidents of road blockade, forcible closure of shops and damage to a couple of state-run buses,” a senior police official told IANS here.
The state-run transport services of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) were suspended amid fears of damage to the vehicles by miscreants.
Although train and flight services remained unaffected, passengers were stranded at the railway station here, as autorickshaws and taxis remained off the roads.
The state education department on Friday advised schools and colleges to declare a holiday on Saturday to ensure safety of students during the shutdown.
Companies offering round-the-clock services like call centres and business process outsourcing had to make arrangements to escort their employees to work and back home.
With commercial establishments like shops, malls, restaurants and petrol pumps shut, life virtually came to a standstill in the state capital, Mysore, Hassan, Mangalore, Hubli, Belgaum and Shimoga.
Supply of essential commodities like milk and medicines and ambulance services were, however, exempted from the shutdown.
The security has been beefed up across the state.
Additional police personnel were deployed at vital installations and sensitive areas, especially in Bengaluru.
The state has been releasing 9,000 cusecs of water daily since September 29 in compliance with the Supreme Court order of September 19, directing the prime minister, who is also the chairman of the Cauvery River Authority, to supervise the distribution of water in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Meanwhile, some persons, who had come to visit the city, were seen stranded at railway stations and bus stands with buses belonging to Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation and even autorickshaws remaining off the roads.
Activists belonging to pro-Kannada organisation, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, staged protest marches in Nelamangala, Anekal and Doddaballapura in Bengaluru Rural District, Superintendent of Police D. Prakash told PTI.
The Chamundi Express was stopped at Srirangapatna and not allowed to proceed to Mysore, railway police said.
The central study team, on its second day of visit for assessing the water situation, undertook an aerial study in Harangi, Kabini and Hemavathy catchment area.
Peaceful protest marches were held in Mandya and Mysore districts with farmers resorting to rasta roko (road blocks) in Srirangapatna and Gejjalagere in Mandya district, hotbed of the stir, police said.
Security has been tightened with 80,000 police and other personnel being deployed to prevent any untoward incidents.
The Karnataka government began releasing 9,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu after the Supreme Court asked it to abide by the September 19 directive of the Cauvery River Authority, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, till October 15.