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Left’s Gaza rally cripples traffic

Traffic in several parts of Calcutta came to a standstill on Monday afternoon because of a Left Front rally to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza.

More than a lakh supporters joined the rally from Ram Leela Maidan off Moulali to Deshbandhu Park near Shyambazar, which resulted in crippling snarls for hours on key arteries such as AJC Bose Road, Lenin Sarani, APC Road, MG Road, Narkeldanga Main Road, Keshab Chandra Sen Street and Vivekananda Road.

The rally lasted from 2pm till 5pm but the ripple effects continued well past 5pm.

“What is the significance of holding a rally in Calcutta to protest an incident happening thousands of miles away? If they really want to protest, they should focus on more pressing issues like the rise in potato prices and the poor condition of roads,” said Sambudhhwa Banerjee, who was stuck in a snarl on the Sealdah flyover for close to an hour.

CPM leaders, however, thought otherwise. “The BJP government is not protesting the attacks on innocent people in Palestine and is in fact supporting the moneyed class and indirectly helping Israel. Hence, there is a need to create an awareness on the issue among Calcuttans,” said CPM state secretary Biman Bose.

The rally, one of the biggest in the city in recent times, was attended by CPM supporters and activists from across the state.

To add to the chaos were 38 tableaux and several Matadors and buses that rolled slowly along with the marching men and women holding red flags and placards and shouting slogans against the US and Israel.

School students returning home were among the worst sufferers.

Children from Apeejay School, Loreto House (Sealdah), Ashok Hall, St. James’ School and Mahadevi Birla World Academy were stuck in snarls for several hours.

Three buses carrying students of Apeejay School were stuck near Moulali on AJC Bose Road for close to two hours. The buses, packed with students from classes V to X, were headed for Baguiati, Burrabazar and Shyambazar.

“The parents were calling us up to know the exact location of the buses. They were anxious and so were we,” said Rita Chatterjee, the principal of Apeejay School, Park Street.

“We waited for half an hour after the school got over at 2pm. But since none of the vehicles around us was moving, we decided to walk,” said Roshni Aslam, a Class V student who walked home to Rajabazar with her sister Saira, a student of Class IV.