The Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, a pro-Kannada organization, damaged signboards and nameplates in prominent business areas of Bangalore for not using or “prioritizing” the usage of the Kannada language in the text.
The incident that took place on Wednesday saw the KRV activists take out rallies in the business hubs of the city, like MG Road, UB City, Brigade Road, Lavelle Road, and Gandhi Nagar, among others. “The business establishments were undermining the official language of Karnataka (i.e Kannada)”, the KRV said.
Among the targets were several malls, shops, commercial buildings, companies and factories, especially multinational companies like McDonalds, etc.
KRV convener, T A Narayana Gowda said, “As per rule, 60 percent of the signboards and name plates should be in Kannada. We are not against your business but if you are doing business in Karnataka then you have to respect our language”.
“If you ignore Kannada or put Kannada letters in small, we will not let you operate here,” he said.
In a video talking to a reporter, Gowda is seen warning the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah while in the rally saying, “Our protest will be peaceful and is meant to make people aware.”
Gowda is now taken under preventive custody by the police along with other agitators.
Amid the buzz over the “60% Kannada order”, several videos of the violence are circulated online, showing both women and men wearing yellow and red scarfs (depicting the colours of the Karnataka flag) tearing down, spraying black paint, pelting stones and destroying the signages that used any language apart from Kannada or have Kannada written in smaller fonts.
In a video, a woman supporter taking part in the rally was heard saying, “You go and show your pride in your state. This is the State of Karnataka,” referring to the Marwari community who have established their business outlets in an alley in the streets of Bangalore, adding, “Marwaris! Next time you say you do not know Kannada, you will be a target. You are the ones who begged and have come to our State to carry out your business. The words should be written in Kannada in big bold fonts.”
The KRV activists are threatening the shopkeepers demanding the immediate implementation of the order given by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).
The Bengaluru civic body had earlier directed the shops to ensure their signboards have at least 60 percent Kannada. Tushar Giri Nath, the chief commissioner of BBMP, has said that the commercial stores in the civic body’s jurisdiction will face legal action if they fail to abide by the new order.
In a meeting with KRV a few days ago, he said that a thorough survey will be undertaken zone-wise on 1400 km of roads. “After the survey, a notice will be given to the shops that do not use 60 percent Kannada language. After issuing the notice, they will be given time till February 28 to implement Kannada language nameplates and submit compliance to the respective zone commissioners,” he said.
The order was given by BBMP, as part of an effort to promote the prominence of the local language, directing businesses throughout Bangalore to prominently display a minimum of 60% of the nameplate in Kannada, and the rest 40% in English. Failing which, their trade licenses will be cancelled along with potential legal consequences, giving a deadline of February 28. This development brought back the focus on the longstanding language row in the metropolitan capital of Karnataka.
Sanneerappa, state general secretary of the KRV, had earlier alleged that the BBMP had failed to implement a similar rule that was announced back in 2017 and 2019. Over four years after it was made mandatory for commercial establishments, activists alleged that the BBMP has not effectively implemented it.