Ajsu supporters climb the main gate of district collectorate during the Halla Bol stir on Tuesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
The noisy halla bol by over 2,000 Ajsu workers before East Singhbhum district collectorate in Sakchi, Jamshedpur, on Tuesday threw traffic out of gear for three hours and disrupted administrative work.
Ajsu staged its halla bol as a part of its statewide protest to demand special status for Jharkhand and rights to service, education and food.
Most party workers, from rural pockets, gathered at the venue in hordes on party-sponsored buses, SUVs and mini-trucks around 11am.
But though party workers were supposed to sit inside a shamiyana put up on the other side of Pipeline Road that links district collectorate with Mango, most of them stood on the flanks of the artery.
They added to the congestion already posed by parked buses and other vehicles lining the sides of the road. From a little before noon, traffic came to a standstill till 3pm.
To add to commuter woes were numerous loudspeakers and public amplifiers installed on party vehicles and shamiyanas, through which Ajsu leaders shouted slogans against the state government and UPA-led central government for failing to give state its “legitimate rights”.
According to Central Pollution Control Board norms, both the district collectorate and the SDO court, just 500m away, fall under the silence zone along with hospitals and civil court, but Ajsu workers did not seem aware of it.
“It was very difficult to carry out our work due to loudspeakers. We had to literally shout at our clerks to be heard. Concentrating on files was tough,” admitted East Singhbhum additional deputy commissioner Ganesh Kumar.
As the agitation peaked and Ajsu workers started getting rowdy, the district collectorate closed its main gates, making it impossible for the common masses to enter.
“We had to close down the gates as some of the party workers were adamant about disturbing the collectorate. Even so, they tried to scale the gates and had to be cautioned by the police against doing so,” said DSP (crime control room) Jacintha Kerketta.
“I had gone to get a caste certificate for my son who is studying in a private college at Odisha. But seeing the gates closed and large crowd, I had to return. I will go tomorrow when there is not much disturbance,” said Geeta Munda, a resident of Baridih.
The administration, on its part, appeared helpless. Even top officials hoped for the Election Commission enforcement of the model code of conduct.
“This is a serious problem. We expect the code of conduct to be effective in a few days that would bar such political gatherings. We will definitely plan a long-term solution to the problem soon,” said East Singhbhum deputy commissioner (DC) Amitabh Kaushal.
When asked, Ajsu district secretary Shyam Krishna Mahto denied their workers had caused traffic snarl and downplayed the noise pollution.
“Our party workers did not disturb traffic at any point of time. We used loudspeakers as the agitation itself meant raising our voice. We submitted a petition to the governor through the DC for ensuring the rights to the people of state,” Mahto said.