The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Halting cars, playing cop in every stride

Scene I: A Maruti car tries to cross the Camac Street-Shakespeare Sarani intersection soon after the procession crosses the spot. Two rallyists step out of the queue and force the car to a halt. The driver takes a U-turn.

Scene II: A bus on route 39/A tries to honk its way past the rally on Shakespeare Sarani. Some of the rallyists approach the driver and abuse him: “Where will you go' Don’t you see the procession' Will you kill us'’’

Scene III: A minibus on the Shyambazar-Golpark route is stuck in jam as the rally crosses the Park Street-AJC Bose Road intersection. A woman gets off and urges a sergeant to arrange for the bus to pass, as she needs to reach Sealdah immediately. The policeman expresses helplessness and tells her to wait.

Whatever the high court order may be, the rallyists on Saturday were not in the mood to make room for any vehicular movement. Rather the 3,000-odd People’s Relief Committee (PRC) volunteers — most of them CPM supporters —violated the court order with aggressive zeal.

Though Left Front chairman Biman Bose, who led the rally and walked the entire stretch from Dilkhusa Street to Moulali Yuba Kendra, and other senior CPM leaders had instructed the participants not to disturb vehicular movement as much as possible, the cadres did not pay much heed.

From Dilkhusa Street to AJC Bose Road, the rallyists did not leave any space for traffic. Though some small cars and two-wheelers managed to squeeze through with the help of police and some “kind-hearted’’ rallyists, most vehicles were left stranded.

Some sergeants, who tried to let the stranded vehicles pass, were stopped in the tracks by the rallyists.

“If you want the cars to proceed, let them move ahead; we will stop our procession,” a rallyist was heard telling a policeman.

The sergeant manning the electronic traffic signal at the Shakespeare Sarani-AJC Bose Road intersection promptly put the red light on for vehicles on AJC Bose Road to allow the rally to proceed.

“Who will take responsibility if an accident occurs' It is difficult for large vehicles to move along, as the road is not spacious enough. We did not stop any vehicle intentionally, we did it for the safety of the rallyists. Had the road been wide enough, vehicles could have passed easily,’’ said Madhu Pal, a rallyist from Kankurgachhi.

Pedestrians were surprised to see Biman Bose and other CPM leaders lead the rally. “Will the police arrest them for taking out a procession defying the court order' If the police cannot do it now, then what is the value of such an order'” asked an elderly man waiting to cross AJC Bose Road near Joragirja.

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