Bengaluru, December 27: The 'Maha Abhiyan' campaign organised by a group Kannada Rakshana Vedike (KRV) demanding prominence for Kannada language on signboards turned violent on Wednesday with the activists smashing the English signboards and vandalising property, advertisement boards and hoardings. The activists have targeted Starbucks, Third Wave, Toyota, House of -``Masaba, Forest Essentials, Theobroma and others.

The KRV claimed that thousands of English signboards were "destroyed and plucked out" across the city. "We will wait till February 28 to install sign boards giving prominence to Kannada language. If not, a stronger protest would be organised to get rid of those sign boards," KRV President, T.A. Narayana Gowda, warned. "We apologise for the inconvenience faced by the people of Bengaluru. I assume that they will understand the organisation of large-scale protests to ensure usage of Kannada language on sign boards," he said. Pro-Kannada Protests: Bengaluru Phoenix Marketcity and Mall of Asia Shut Amidst Vandalism Over English Signage, Says Report

"If false cases are lodged against Kannada activists, we will organise protest against the government," he added. The development has evoked a huge backlash from the people and activists. Many have expressed shock over the turn of events in the state capital and police becoming mute spectators to vandalism and destruction by Kannada activists. Karnataka Police had earlier beefed up security in Bengaluru on Wednesday in the wake of the KRV demanding prominence to local language on signboards of commercial buildings and malls in the city.

It organised a massive rally as part of its Maha Abhiyaan taken up following the Karnataka government issuing directions making Kannada compulsory in 60 per cent of the sign boards put up on commercial buildings. The rally started from Bengaluru International Airport Road and will pass through Yelahanka, Shivajinagar, Commercial Street, S.P. Road, Brigade Road, M.G. Road, Chikkapet, City Market, Avenue Road and reached Cubbon Park. KRV President Narayana Gowda had issued a warning to the owners of commercial buildings to give prominence to Kannada language on sign boards.

He had also stated that if the sign boards were found to be only using Hindi and English languages, they would be taken down. Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Commissioner Tushar Girinath has directed that all sign boards should be in Kannada by February 28 in the state capital. However, KRV has given time till December 27 to change the sign boards, which were challenged by the owners of malls and commercial buildings. Woman Protesting For Kannada Boards Left Stumped After Reporter Pointed Out Her Tattoo in English, Video Goes Viral

The police have beefed up security for the Mall of Asia, pegged as the biggest in Asia, as the management and Vedike are at loggerheads over the display of the name of the mall in Kannada. The activists tore down advertisements displayed in English and blackened the Hindi and English sign boards. The police had to resort to baton charge to control the situation.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Dec 27, 2023 09:12 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website