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Citizen Calcutta appears in court

Calcutta, Oct. 2: In a crowd of black-robed advocates and tome-bearing clerks, one lady stood out in her sari.

She was the only one in room no. 8 of Calcutta High Court who had no business to be there — or, perhaps, more business than any of the others — when a vacation bench sat today.

Molly Chanda of Bowbazar was Citizen Calcutta’s representative when Justice Alok Chakraborty and Justice Shubhrakamal Mukherjee took up the state government’s opposition to Justice Amitava Lala’s order restricting rallies.

Chanda was one of the thousands of Calcuttans stuck in the September 24 rally that also stalled Justice Lala while he was on his way to court.

“Justice Lala was delayed for 30 minutes that day,” Chanda said today.

“I was held up for two-and-a-half hours,” she said, explaining her decision to be present in court on Saptami morning.

Chanda was on her way from Park Street to B.K. Pal Avenue in north Calcutta to see an ailing relative. She picked the route along the Maidan, skipping Central Avenue and Chowringhee, to avoid rush-hour traffic snarls.

“But what I went through that morning and afternoon was traumatic,” she said. “Here I was — going to see an ailing person — when I myself was taken ill, sitting in the car and amid the fumes,” Chanda said.

The morning after, she read Justice Lala’s decision to slap a contempt notice on the traffic police brass for giving the rally right of way.

“Ever since, I have been keeping abreast of the developments in court,” Chanda said, adding that she was grateful — “like every other Calcuttan” — to the judiciary for “doing something” to arrest life-arresting rallies.

“I could not be in court on Monday when Justice Lala passed his ruling that must be one of the people-friendliest in recent times,” she said, adding that she had decided that day to make up for her absence.

“My being present here — rather than with friends and relatives on Saptami morning — is my way of expressing solidarity with the judiciary in its fight to set Calcutta free from rallies,” she said.

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