Mangaluru: The observance of bandh very often has become not only a nuisance but also a curse to the district in the past years.
Some examples, if cited, will clearly convince everyone how ridiculous and muddle-headed the whole idea of bandhs and ‘rasta roko’ is. If a party leader is arrested in another state, the bandh is observed here.
Demanding Mangaluru-Bengaluru train, a few years ago, the protesters stopped several trains heading south towards Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In what way this kind of protest helped their cause nobody knows.
Colleagues in the media have vividly described as to how travellers are stranded in bus-stands and pilgrims held up in temple towns during the shutdown period.
When opinions were sought from them, the suffering persons only had the choicest abuses for the organizers. Some even went to the extent of saying that these people giving call for bandhs would face the divine wrath.
While protesting against pollution, the protesters themselves cause pollution by holding bike and vehicle rallies and also by burning tyres on the roads, thereby spreading toxic fumes, besides ruining the well-laid bitumen road surfaces.
Similarly, it is nothing but sheer madness to pelt stones at buses and buildings and damaging public property in order to prove a point. It is only taking our country to the Stone Age – literally one could say.
As the barbaric practice continues, the silence of the good citizens indirectly seems to spur and goad the trouble-makers further – as if to prove the Sanskrit saying, ‘Maunam sammati lakshaNam’ (Silence represents tacit approval).
Returning to the subject of bandh, who really benefits out of it? Calls for bandhs are given for petty reasons and then are being described as ‘spontaneous’ or ‘voluntary’ public response.
In reality, owners cannot afford to keep their shops or establishments closed as it would entail heavy loss of revenue. They down the shutters only to ensure that their outlets are not damaged and the staff not harassed.
Most of those who organize bandhs enjoy good food in airconditioned or comfortable ambience, while the man on the street is put to hardships, being deprived of regular transportation, or daily wages and food in time.
And all this happens in a district widely perceived as one inhabited by ‘intelligent’ people.
A time has come to call a halt to this nonsense and put a bandh on bandhs once and for all. All this while, our city was known as an ideal hub of education and healthcare.
There are reports that many parents from upcountry regions and northern states are now hesitating to send their wards to study here as it often gets into headlines for wrong reasons.
The owners of educational institutions are reportedly feeling the heat and have begun to fret over the dwindling numbers.
While the whole matter was restricted to private, armchair discussions and letters to the editor in the media, now there is an official move to stem the rot.
A meeting to this effect has been convened by deputy commissioner A B Ibrahim in the auditorium of his office, with district minister-in-charge B Ramanath Rai in the chair, at 3 pm on Friday, January 8, 2016 to chalk out plans to declare DK as a bandh-free district.
Elected leaders and representativs of about 70 organizations have been invited to take part in the deliberations. It is an ideal opportunity for the right-thinking citizens and those who have genuine concern for the future of the district to say a big NO to bandhs, once and for all.
It is all the more relevant if Mangaluru has to turn into a smart city in the real sense and to retain the tag of ‘intelligent’ people.