Protesters participating in Monday's Karnataka bandh manhandled, slapped and abused drivers and commuters in Bangalore, according to videos circulated on social media. Vehicles were also reportedly vandalised in Bengaluru, where the bandh received significant support.
According to a video shared on X (formerly Twitter), protesters stopped two bike-borne men in Bengaluru. One of the protester slapped the commuter of the bike-taxi and the other protester hit the driver.
The 24-hour bandh was called by the Federation of the Karnataka State Private Transport Associations pressuring the government to meet their demands, including withdrawal of the Shakti scheme, which allows free bus travel to women passengers.
The Bengaluru Metro Rail Transport Corporation (BMRCL) increased the frequency of its trains, reducing the gap between each train from 10 minutes to 5 minutes, as commuters flocked to metro stations in the absence of private transportation options.
Watch the video below
Bandh called off
The Federation of the Karnataka State Private Transport Associations withdrew the bandh at 2:30 pm on Monday after state Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy said would agree to their demands. The federation's demands included the prohibition of cab aggregator apps.
However, their three demands would not be fulfilled, – withdrawal of Shakti scheme, monthly grants to auto drivers and exemption of life tax on vehicles costing between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh.
What was the bandh about?
More than 30 private transport associations and farmers' groups have backed the bandh, resulting in the cessation of private bus, taxi, auto, and goods vehicle services, causing inconvenience for commuters. Many schools in Bengaluru were forced to close due to the ongoing protests, leaving parents to transport their children to school as school buses and private transportation remained unavailable.
The statewide bandh organised by the Federation of Private Transporters in Karnataka on Monday in protest against the Shakthi scheme, which offers free travel for women, along with other grievances, has garnered significant support, particularly in Bengaluru.
According to the protesters, businesses of private transporters have significantly declined since the introduction of the Shakti scheme. These unions had previously presented a series of demands to the Congress government, including a request for financial assistance of Rs 10,000 for each driver and a ban on bike taxis.
Transport woes of commuters
Office-goers and the general public, who rely on taxis and autos for daily commuting, were particularly hit by Monday's bandh. Travelers heading to Bengaluru International Airport were affected given taxis are a preferred mode of transportation to the airport.
In one distressing incident, a taxi driver transporting a passenger to the airport was intercepted, assaulted, and spat upon by protesters, who also pelted him and his vehicle with eggs, according to IANS. Auto-rickshaw drivers providing services were similarly ambushed, beaten, and had their vehicles vandalised, with the autos' windows smashed.
In response to these events, the SJ Park police in Bengaluru took three people into custody.