Three marches protesting the Delhi gangrape disrupted traffic at the city centre and the arterial roads for nearly three hours on Thursday.
The first two marches, organised by the Trinamul Mahila Congress Committee and students from various institutions across the city, started from College Square in the afternoon and ended at Esplanade between 3pm and 4.15pm.
The third, a comparatively smaller one comprising around 100 people, headed from Birla Planetarium to the Jawaharlal Nehru statue at the JL Nehru Road-Park Street crossing in the evening.
“Around 2,000 supporters of the Trinamul Mahila Congress Committee started gathering at College Square around 1.30pm. The second rally comprised around 300 students from St. Xavier’s College, Presidency University, Calcutta University, Loreto College and other institutions, who gathered at the same venue soon after the Trinamul brigade had left,” said a traffic department officer.
Both processions took the same route — College Street, Nirmal Chandra Street, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road and SN Banerjee Road — choking traffic along the way. The Trinamul march ended at Dorina Crossing and the students’ rally at Rani Rashmoni Avenue.
The students also submitted a memorandum to urban development minister Firhad Hakim pressing for tougher punishment for perpetrators of sexual violence.
“The laws are outdated. We demand sterner laws to stop sexual harassment,” said Tanima Chatterjee, a student of the international relations at Jadavpur University.
According to National Crime Bureau, Bengal had recorded 2,363 cases of rape last year, second only to Madhya Pradesh’s 3,406.
Commuters sympathised with the cause but could not help complain about the snarls and the resultant harassment.
“I have been left stranded for half an hour. I have an elderly mother-in-law who needs constant care. I had planned to return within an hour but the snarl has thrown all my plans haywire,” said Bowbazar resident Sushmita Ghosh, whose car got stuck on Madan Street.
Before the city centre could heave a sigh of relief as the protesting students started dispersing after 5pm, a candlelight rally started from Birla Planetarium. It took an hour to reach its destination at the JL Nehru Road-Park Street crossing.
North-bound vehicles approaching JL Nehru Road from the Exide crossing felt the pinch.