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Tough yesterday, real test today

Calcutta, Oct. 20: Police did it today: stopped rallies from disrupting traffic in central and north Calcutta.

But can they do an encore tomorrow when a Left Front constituent takes over the busy five-point crossing in Shyambazar'

For the first time since Justice Amitava Lala’s ruling on rallies, police intercepted two processions this afternoon before they could hit the roads.

The Trinamul Congress and the Krishak Goraksha Samity were to march around noon — neither had sought police permission.

After standing mute spectator when Justice Lala’s ruling was violated with impunity by Left Front constituents on the excuse of not having received a copy of the order, the police today acted first around 11 am when over 100 members of the Krishak Goraksha Samity began assembling in front of the College Street market before their planned march to the Tangra slaughterhouse.

“We kept watch on them and as soon as they stepped on the street, we stepped in,” said a senior police officer. “We did not allow them to take a single step and arrested 35.” The rest of the group dispersed.

“We could not afford to obstruct traffic,” the officer said.

The second piece of action came around 2.30 pm in front of Writers’ Buildings when a group of Trinamul Congress supporters set off in a procession to protest the death of baby Shabana Parveen. The police chased the 200 protesters away.

The Trinamul activists regrouped and started to march from Lalbazar Street towards Calcutta Medical College and Hospital. But the police were equally firm this time, too, and arrested 39 of them.

At the end of the day, almost 75 had been arrested and two attempts to disrupt traffic foiled. For the record, the police maintain that today’s action was a “routine affair”.

“We cracked down because we did not want disruption of traffic,” said Kuldiep Singh, DC, headquarters.

This resolution will be tested tomorrow when the Forward Bloc takes out a procession, along with a tableau, from Hedua Park to the five-point crossing in Shyambazar on the occasion of 60 years of the provisional Azad Hind government.

Police officers admitted that they could stop today’s rallies because they were small and did not involve Left parties. “Had the rallies involved thousands of people, nothing could have been done,” said an officer.

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