Ajsu president Sudesh Mahto and his supporters form the human chain along NH-33 in Ranchi on Wednesday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
The human chain called by Ajsu to demand special status for Jharkhand on Wednesday from Barhi (Hazaribagh) to Bahragora (East Singhbhum) gave a taste of traffic hold-up to Union minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh, chief minister Hemant Soren as well as countless citizens.
Around 2.30pm, carcades of Hemant and Ramesh, returning from Lali village in Namkum block where they took part in an Aadhaar event, were caught in the human snarl for around 15 minutes.
While Hemant was on his way back to Project Building, Ramesh was heading towards Birsa Munda Airport.
Commoners fared far worse. In East Singhbhum, some 50,000 Ajsu supporters held up traffic between the capital and the industrial hub on the arterial highway for some four hours between 10am and 2pm.
In the capital, Ajsu supremo and former deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahto was the highlight of the main gathering from Namkum bridge to Sindraul between 1pm and 3.30pm, where a crowd of 10,000 had gathered.
“We will steer the battle for special status to its decisive end. After the Raghuram Rajan committee report, there is no reason to deny special state status to Jharkhand. If the need be, we will wage a war in Delhi and compel the Centre to come to terms with us,” Sudesh said.
Ajsu announced demonstrations in Delhi on November 15, the state foundation day, which will culminate in a mass meeting at Ramlila grounds.
Despite intermittent rain all day long, Ajsu supporters linked hands and obstructed traffic at pockets along NH-33 in Ranchi.
In Ramgarh, deputy Chandra Prakash Choudhary led the human chain.
All across the 352km stretch from Barhi to Bahragora, where protesters thinned out, attractive long banners along both sides of the highway filled the void.
Most roadside dhabas and petrol bunks stayed closed, fearing damage by over-enthusiastic Ajsu workers, but nothing untoward was reported. The party made its own arrangement for food and water.
Ultimately, commuters and transporters paid the price.
“We have been stuck in the traffic snarl for nearly two hours,” said Ranchi-bound commuter Sushant Dey, his bus stranded near Kanderbera. “Agar hum age badne ka koshish karte hain aur kisi party karyakarta ko thoda dhakka lag jayega to bawal ho jayega aur driver ki pitai hogi (If we try to move our vehicle in this crowd and if by mistake our vehicle hits an agitator, we’ll be beaten up) said Kripal Singh of Jamshedpur-based Utility Services Transport, bound for Bengal.