By Sumedha Biswas:
It’s nearly 9 pm and I would really rather be home right now but I’m writing this while being stuck at a friend’s place for the night. It’s annoying, yes. But people have it much worse than I do, so I’ll spare you my rant of having to walk four kilometres in the rain (oops!).
For the past three months, Bengaluru has had its fair share of bandhs which admittedly, has been for a lot of different reasons, but none as big as this awkward half-day bandh we had today. Such a peaceful city like Bengaluru suddenly turned bloody, chaos became the norm with frenzied citizens trying to move to safer locations, rioting mobs, rallies began threatening places that were open – torching, screaming and so much more followed.
Petrol bunks, groceries, markets, schools, colleges, offices – all shut down. Most schools and colleges sent their students home post noon, urging them to go home immediately. Some MNCs actually stopped their employees from leaving, keeping them indoors and away from the roads. Public transport had been usurped to the point where citizens were either hanging out of the already overcrowded buses and autowalas were vehemently nodding their heads in refusal to take you anywhere at all. If the bus depots getting filled with empty buses wasn’t enough, the lovely Namma Metro also got temporarily suspended, let alone that godforsaken Ola app which crashed the minute I opened.
Coming down to the facts, this sudden ‘bloody’ bandh was called after the Supreme Court announced that the Karnataka government ought to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. This particular dispute is over a hundred and twenty years old but is exceptionally annoying, in terms of being repetitive and never officially coming to a logical conclusion that makes everybody happy, once and for all. For the time being, in an attempt to curb the riots, Section 144 has been declared which basically means that groups of people aren’t allowed to be seen together . But the joke is really on them when this particular piece of information is aired right next to live footages of 56 buses being torched at the same time.
I’ve heard a ton of stories in the past couple of hours alone and I don’t know which one to singlehandedly label as the worst and share here. While some tell me about them witnessing vehicles being stopped and torched, some others tell me stories about Tamil families being pulled out of their homes and beaten. Whatsapp forwards have been constantly cautioning Tamil Nadu vehicles to stay indoors. And even if “Tamil is all you know and live by, don’t speak it”, is what was strongly advised. Don’t speak it and save your life. (Of course, the situation is exactly the opposite in Tamil Nadu) Besides hearing stories of stones being thrown at buildings, I also personally witnessed a mob ransacking a petrol bunk for ‘still functioning’. And of course, my gallery is abundant with ‘lovely’ pictures of vandalised Adayar Ananda Bhawan (a popular Tamil restaurant chain) and the smoking images the NICE corridor (The Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises road).
So as I sit here listening to Arnab Goswami (His voice coming from the other room! Also, what else would you really expect?), I wonder how long it’s going to take for things to settle. As for getting home, I hope to catch a cab at dawn.
Dripping Red & Blazing Yellow,
The citizens have turned horribly mellow.
The old sleepy town of little Bangalore,
Is really no more than fanciful folklore.
As states shed blood and waste their tears,
It’s true, we’ve reached this point in years.
All for a drop of water, they say
Little do they know that it’s neither black nor white,
It’s all Gray and that’s all it shall ever be –
frightening Gray that shall torment us all through the night.