Protests demanding the implementation of 60 per cent Kannada in all signboards in Bengaluru city turned to vandalism in many parts of the city on Wednesday. Several boards were defaced during a procession by Karnataka Rakshna Vedike (KRV) from Sadahalli toll gate towards the city.
Simultaneous protests also took place in different parts of the city, where protesters removed boards that did not have Kannada. The police have detained several protesters, including KRV president T A Narayana Gowda.
The procession was taken out after the pro-Kannada outfit had set a December 27 deadline for all establishments in Bengaluru to implement the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) order mandating 60 per cent Kannada in signage across the city. The order is based on BBMP Outdoor Signage and Public Messaging Bye-laws, 2018.
Following pressure from Kannada groups, the BBMP set February 28 as the deadline for all establishments to abide by the norms.
Narayana Gowda said that police were thwarting the protests carried out by pro-Kannada outfits. “I spoke to the chief minister and deputy chief minister yesterday night. They assured us that the protests would be allowed. If they arrest us or stop the movement, then the police will be responsible for any unforeseen incidents in Bengaluru,” he said.
The protesters vandalised the signboard of the multi-city hotel chain Bloom, which did not have Kannada in it. They were also seen entering the hotel premises chanting pro-Kannada slogans. Marching towards Chikkajala, pro-Kannada workers defaced and removed many signboards. Videos of protesters spray painting some boards were shared on social media platforms. They were also seen tearing up large flexes installed along the airport road.
Security was beefed at prominent malls in the city including the Phoenix Mall of Asia, which was previously targeted by pro-Kannada activists and Phoenix Market City. Stores inside the malls were also closed.
Kannada signage is a long-standing demand of pro-Kannada organisations and it intensified last week as Kannada organisations carried out a procession at Chickpet in the city.