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Kannada organisations demand ban on MES, threaten bandh on December 31

Published : Dec 23, 2021 12:58 IST T+T-
(Front row, from left) Vatal Nagaraj, Sa Ra Govindu, B.T. Lalita Naik and Praveen Shetty during a meeting of Kannada organisations held in Bengaluru on December 22.

(Front row, from left) Vatal Nagaraj, Sa Ra Govindu, B.T. Lalita Naik and Praveen Shetty during a meeting of Kannada organisations held in Bengaluru on December 22.

Kannada organisations have demanded that the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) be banned in Karnataka and have set a deadline of December 29 for the government to comply, failing which they have threatened to launch a massive protest from December 31 onwards in the State. The MES advocates the merger of Marathi-speaking areas of Karnataka with Maharashtra.

There have been a series of events over the past two weeks whereby activists of the MES and the Shiv Sena (in Karnataka and Maharashtra) have provoked Kannada speakers by burning the Karnataka flag or defacing the statue of early 19th century military icon Sangolli Rayanna. Kannada activists have also responded to these provocations: A statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji was defaced in Bengaluru on December 16. Following these incidents, public buses from the Kalyana Karnataka region (the north-eastern part of Karnataka) have stopped plying to Maharashtra.

In a meeting in Bengaluru on December 22, Kannada organisations took the decision to organise a bandh in the State on December 31 from 6 a.m to 6 p.m. More than 35 organisations, including transporters’ unions, have endorsed the bandh call. Vatal Nagaraj, the leader of the Kannada Okkuta, said: “We are giving the State government a deadline of December 29 to ban MES. If the government bans MES, we will withdraw the call for bandh. If not, we will go ahead with the bandh and our protests.”

“More than five lakh people will participate in the bandh in Bengaluru. The protest rally will commence from Town Hall and will reach Freedom Park,” he said. Members of other Kannada organisations such as Praveen Kumar Shetty, Shivaramegowda, K.R. Kumar and others were also present at the meeting.