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Army keeps the babus off Brigade

Calcutta, Dec. 21: The army has denied permission to the CPM-backed Coordination Committee of State Government Employees and Associations to hold a rally at Brigade Parade Grounds scheduled for December 28.

If the army is to be consistent with its policy, a CPM rally there on January 8 cannot also be allowed.

But, before you jump for joy at the demise of a potential disruption a week from now, here’s a warning: the coordination committee rally is very much on at another central point of the city.

“We’re trying to bring the Maidan back to its pristine glory. Political rallies, book fairs and such events leave a lot of litter behind. This is the last year we’re allowing trade and book fairs (the chief minister corroborated this). Henceforth, we’ll not allow anyone,” said Arun Roye, general officer commanding (Bengal area).

Army officials said the decision on the CPM’s rally would be taken once the application came.

A senior CPM leader said:“We have obtained police permission and are in the process of applying to the army.”

The army’s decision not to give permission has sent coordination committee members to home secretary Prasad Ranjan Roy. They also plan to meet Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

“The army has refused us permission, though Calcutta Police have given us the nod. We don’t know if the army wants to keep out only us, or whether it’s trying to impose a blanket ban,” said Jyoti Prasad Basu, general secretary of the committee.

Over a lakh government employees are expected to play truant on that day to attend the rally, which is being held as part of the golden jubilee celebrations of the committee.

Basu said the rally, to be held between 2 and 4 pm on a weekday, would now have to be held on Rani Rashmoni Avenue.

“Let me warn you that if the rally is held on Rani Rashmoni Avenue, it’ll play havoc with the traffic,” he said.

The committee will not violate any court or administrative orders if it holds its show there or at Shahid Minar or opposite Metro cinema, where rallies are permitted.

Last year, the police submitted a list of arteries like NS Bose Road, Strand Road, Indira Gandhi Sarani and portions of AJC Bose Road where rallies are banned.

The possibility of chaos on the streets next Wednesday has prompted the administration to take up the rally organisers’ cause.

“The police have already given permission. I will take it up with the army tomorrow,” said chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb.

Last September, the high court curtailed the police’s power to grant permission for using the Maidan, making the army the custodian.

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