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D for dharnas, D for distress

Four dharnas and a demonstration in front of the district collectorate made Tuesday a day of distress and disruption in Jamshedpur.

If the armies of agitators brought traffic to a crawl on the busy Old Court Road, which links Sakchi and Northern Town with Mango, for nearly two hours, blaring loudspeakers meant employees of government offices at the district collectorate had a tough time concentrating on work.

The dharnas were staged by JVM, JMM, Swadeshi Jagran Manch (a unit of Centre for Bhartiya Marketing Development) and the city unit of Bihar Jharkhand Sales Representatives Union in support of various demands while East Singhbhum unit of All India Mahila Sanskritik Sangathan held the demonstration.

The schedules of the protest programmes overlapped with each other with the string of dharnas continuing from around 10.30am, the prime time when office-goers set out for work, to 2.30pm. The demonstration started at 11am and ended at 12.15am.

Traffic, which is usually heavy around this time of the day, moved at a snail’s pace on the entire Old Court Road with two-wheelers and four-wheelers often remaining stranded for several minutes before lumbering along.

“I reached my office an hour late. I had come to the civil court in the morning. While going back around 10.30am, I ran into motorbike-borne JMM supporters shouting slogans. It took me around 40 minutes to cross the stretch and reach my office,” said Ashok Jha, an employee in the personal loan section of a private bank in Bistupur.

Not only commuters, staff at various government offices at the district collectorate also had to put up with the ordeal of loudspeakers blaring out the speeches of the leaders.

“How can you expect us to work in such conditions? We will only work for a few hours in the second half after the agitations end,” said a clerk at the district welfare office.

Except JMM, none of the parties or organisations had taken permission for staging the dharnas.

Dhalbhum sub-divisional officer Subodh Kumar admitted as much. “We had deputed a magistrate Rajendra Mahato for filing a report. We will initiate action against all other parties and organisations that had staged agitations in front of the district collectorate based on the magistrate’s report,” the SDO said.

District president of JVM Firoz Khan, however, declared that they were ready to face any action. “Our agitation was for an inquiry into coal theft at Panem Coal Mines in Pakur and against displacement of tribals. These are public issues and we are prepared to face any action,” said Khan.

BJSRU unit secretary P.R. Gupta said they were only responding to the call of a nationwide one-day dharna by their national outfit. “Our dharna was in support of medical sales representatives. We want that proper appointment letters should to be given to the representatives, who should also have identity cards that would grant them access to healthcare institutions,” said Gupta.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch’s protest was against FDI while AIMSS members were clamouring for stopping an “obscene” play at Rakha Mines railway station in Ghatshila sub-division on December 9.