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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Procession bomb ticks

Patna, Feb. 6:A small protest rally by a group of differently abled people from Dakbungalow rou-ndabout to Beer Chand Patel Path stalled vehicular movement on major thoroughfares in the state capital for over an hour today.

Commuters, stranded on Bailey Road and Dakbungalow roundabout, however, dismissed the procession as just a preview of a string of bigger and more forceful rallies in the offing. Their fear is understandable, as the budget session of the Assembly is to begin from February 21 and continue till April 4.

Protest rallies, a usual affair during the Assembly sessions, spell terror for thousands of daily commuters who take the busy thoroughfares to reach their destination.

With the rallies mostly headed towards Beer Chand Patel Path, which houses the offices of many political parties, and the R-Block, motorists are sure to have a hard time on the Bailey Road. This thoroughfare is already seeing a heavy rush because of the partial closure of the Hardinge Road, owing to the construction of a flyover.

The city got an example of the same today when the pro-test rally organised by several outfits comprising differently abled people proceeded towards Beer Chand Patel Path after crossing the Dakbungalow roundabout. Traffic jam on the Bailey Road stretched right up to the high court area in the morning hours.

“I was going towards the secretariat area through the Dakbungalow Road when I got stuck in the traffic jam. For an hour-and-a-half, the traffic crept at snail’s pace and I had no choice but to park my bike in the Mauryalok Complex area. I don’t understand why the administration gives permission for rallies on important roads despite knowing that it would lead to a traffic mess,” Prashant Rajan, who works in the secretariat, said.

The favourite destinations of protesters in the state capital are R-Block, an area close to the secretariat, Dakbungalow roundabout, Kargil Chowk and sometimes, the Hartali Mor.

“The R-Block will soon see many rallies as the Assembly session is a fortnight away. All the rallies will stop at R-Block as further ahead is the Hardinge Road, which is close to the secretariat, a no-entry zone for processions. But there have been instances when people have reached the secretariat area in small groups. The winter session last year saw such a rally that led to a police lathicharge,” a police officer told The Telegraph.

The rallies towards the R-Block pass through the Dakbungalow and IT roundabouts to enter the Beer Chand Patel Path.

“Any rally on these routes is bound to draw attention, hence protesters use them. The biggest sufferers are the commuters without a doubt. Not everyone can locate the bylanes. Maximum commuters are dependent on the main roads to reach their destination and the rallies come in their way,” the officer said.

Another commuter stuck in today’s traffic jam blamed the administration for the mess.

“Every protest march needs a permission of the administration and the police. How can permission be given for rallies on important roads? Today, I got stuck for almost an hour at the Income Tax roundabout. I know this is just a trailer. The number of rallies will increase when the Assembly session will begin,” said Sambhu Sharan, who works at a shop on Boring Road.

The police had no answer.

“It is a fact that rally organisers need to take permission. But then the police give them a specific deadline by which they have to wrap up everything. The police try hard to ensure that the rally does not affect the traffic much. Tod-ay’s procession didn’t last very long and the traffic police we-re present all the time to stre-amline vehicular movement,” a traffic police officer said.