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8 rallies and an eviction

Returning home for lunch on Tuesday, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had to take a three-km detour to reach Palm Avenue from Writers’ Buildings, as the city centre was clogged by a steady stream of protesters all of Wednesday afternoon

The chief minister did manage to make his way through the maze of Beleghata canal-side settlers and high court lawyers, a leftist women’s brigade and a team of tannery workers. But others were far less fortunate, spending hours stuck in and around the business hub.

The morning showed the day, with large stretches of north Calcutta being kept off-limits for traffic from 8 am to facilitate the eviction drive at Beleghata. Then, a 1,500-strong procession of tannery workers headed for Bentinck Street from Park Circus. Another crowd of 1,000-odd, grouped under the Bangiya Christiya Pariseba banner, added to the chaos with a march from Birla Planetarium to Rani Rashmoni Road.

Police were forced to shut Red Road and Mayo Road every 15 minutes, from 2 pm to 4 pm, as 5,000 members of the Central Government Employees’ Federation gathered near Shahid Minar. Almost simultaneously, nearly 3,000 striking lawyers converged outside Metro cinema and then, nearly 1,000 members of the Ganatantrik Mahila Samity turned up. If that was not enough, another 2,000 tannery workers and 700 rights activists marched to Ganesh Chandra Avenue for separate meetings and the Hawker Sangram Samity squatted at the Esplanade four-point crossing.

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