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Protest rally chokes south Calcutta

A rally by Youth Congress activists brought traffic to a standstill in parts of south Calcutta on Friday.

The 2,500-strong march was to protest alleged violence by ally Trinamul Congress.

Traffic was stalled on the western flank of SP Mukherjee Road as protesters, who had gathered at the Hazra crossing, marched to the rally venue near the Gandhi statue on Mayo Road.

The protesters walked in two rows, occupying the entire flank. Even pedestrians were affected as the protesters did not allow them to weave through the march to cross the road.

At one point, we had to close traffic movement on the western flank of Asutosh Mukherjee Road and Jawaharlal Nehru Road as the marchers passed, a traffic sergeant said.

Police said Rashbehari Avenue, Hazra Road, Kalighat Road, SP Mukherjee Road, Asutosh Mukherjee Road, Jawaharlal Nehru Road and Park Street were the worst affected as the rallyists marched along the 3.5km stretch.

The rally started from Hazra at 2.30pm and reached the Gandhi statue at 3.30pm. The disruption, however, started from 1.30pm in south Calcutta and continued well past 5pm.

At the Rashbehari Avenue crossing, commuters complained that the men had started blocking the road even before the rally had started from Hazra.

A group of around 150 men were marching along the road shouting slogans, waving flags and asking people to join the rally. I honked and asked them to give way as I was getting late for a meeting but they banged on my car bonnet and threatened me, said Rajat Majumder, stuck in a snarl at Deshapriya Park.

The ordeal was shared by many commuters across south Calcutta.

The situation was worse at Hazra, where cops had to completely stop traffic. As a result, long queues of vehicles formed along Hazra Road, Judges Court Road, SP Mukherjee Road and Asutosh Mukherjee Road.

I kept waiting inside a bus for nearly 20 minutes and then decided to get down and walked from Panditiya Road to the Hazra crossing before I could board a north-bound Metro, said Ria Goswami, an animation student at a Salt Lake institute.

Traffic was also disrupted on Park Street as the cops had to stop vehicles moving along Mayo Road for nearly an hour.

We had to divert Park Street-bound vehicles from Outram Road via Dufferin Road, said a traffic officer.

We organised a peaceful rally and had informed the police in advance. I dont think we disrupted traffic, said Mausam Noor, the state Youth Congress chief, who led the procession.

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