• The reason: A protest against hike in power tariff and capitation fees in medical education.
• The result: Traffic in the morning rush hour standing paralysed, fender to fender, while pedestrians streamed along the streets, headed for their offices, schools and businesses. Even ambulances, ferrying critical patients, stayed stranded, ringing their sirens once in a while in a plea for space to move through.
The blockade by activists of a political party at 36 points across the city, from 10 am till noon, resulted in snarls that took hours to normalise. More than 150 supporters of the party were arrested from various parts of the city and Salt Lake.
The blockade started at 9.30 am with a rally at Chetla Central Road and Rakhal Das Auddy Road, in south Calcutta, police said. The roadblocks followed in phases till noon.
In south Calcutta, traffic stood at a standstill at the Hazra crossing, Rashbehari Avenue, the Harish Mukherjee Road-Sambhunath Pandit Street intersection, Gariahat, Ballygunge Phari, Prince Anwar Shah Road, Tollygunge Phari and Dhakuria.
To the north, M.G. Road’s intersections with College Street and Amherst Street were blocked, so vehicles could neither leave nor approach Howrah. Also, Bhupen Bose Avenue, the Shyambazar five-point crossing, Moulali and the Rabindra Sarani-Sovabazar crossings were sealed off by the activists.
“There were severe traffic disruptions across the city,” admitted N.K. Singh, deputy commissioner of police (traffic). “But things were back to normal after the roadblocks were lifted.”
In Salt Lake, activists of the party were rounded up for blocking the township’s First Avenue.