In Bengaluru, members of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedika, a pro-Kannada activist group, were detained after vandalizing stores in front of the Phoenix Mall of Asia. The activists were demanding compliance with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) 60% Kannada signage rule for commercial establishments.
According to BBMP guidelines, more than half of a business establishment’s signboard must be in Kannada, and the deadline for compliance is set for February 28. Failure to adhere to this rule could result in the closure of shops and the cancellation of trade licenses.
Karnataka Rakshana Vedika president TN Narayan Gowda emphasized the importance of the 60% Kannada rule, stating that businesses unwilling to comply should consider relocating out of Karnataka. He expressed frustration that some establishments were neglecting the rule and insisted that they should display Kannada nameplates alongside other languages.
The Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) urged authorities not to take action before the February 28 deadline. While committing to encouraging its members to follow the rule, FKCCI emphasized that punitive measures should only be taken post-deadline.
Reacting to the incident, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah warned of strict action against those who took the law into their own hands. He expressed concern over the protests turning into acts of vandalism and emphasized the need to address grievances through lawful means.
Amidst political blame games, the Karnataka BJP leaders accused the Congress government of creating a Kannadiga versus non-Kannadiga divide. Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, however, supported the 60% Kannada rule, asserting that signage in multiple languages, including Kannada, ensures broader accessibility. He emphasized that this was not an issue of language superiority but rather a practical measure to cater to the linguistic diversity of the region.
As the controversy unfolds, there is growing scrutiny over the enforcement of the 60% Kannada rule, with stakeholders urging businesses to prioritize compliance before the looming deadline.
Image credit- The Hindu