The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Who will protect my right to go to the railway station'

Your Honour,

I read with interest your summoning of the police bosses to serve them a contempt notice for stopping traffic to allow a rally to pass in the rush hours last Wednesday.

Your Honour was late for court by around 40 minutes that day. I missed a train to Delhi because of the traffic jam caused by rallies.

I left home, off the Bypass, in a taxi two hours before the Rajdhani Express was to leave Howrah at 4.15 pm. I was visiting Delhi to wrap up whatever remnants there were of my long stay there — I came to live in Calcutta a few years ago in my old age.

I was going to the station with my younger son. My elder son and daughter-in-law, who were to travel with me (coach A5, seats 8, 10 and 11), were waiting there. After spending about 30 minutes to cover the stretch from Sealdah station to S.. Banerjee Road, we realised we would not be allowed to turn in. I saw a policeman turning away a motorcycle-rider who pointed to a building a few metres away as his destination. We were forced to travel south down A.P.C. Road and turned into Elliot Road only to get caught at the Royd Street-Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road crossing.

When we finally hit S.. Banerjee Road, travelling back north the same distance, I knew time was running out on me. I told my son: “For the first time in my life, I am going to miss a train.”

I asked my son if I could walk the rest of the way. He said: “You can’t.”

It took us about 45 minutes to travel a 1.5-km stretch to the Maidan, near where Your Honour got stuck. Any road we tried to turn into was barred or jammed with vehicles. Had I not been 74 years old, I would have tried walking at least part of the way to the station. I saw many people do that.

All this while, my elder son and daughter-in-law, who stay in a different part of the city, waited anxiously for me. I learnt later they took the ferry. I did, finally, reach the station — about 10 minutes after the train had left.

I had little time to shed tears over my misfortune because I had to somehow get another ticket in this Puja rush to travel to Delhi by the weekend. I was forced to buy an AC first class ticket as nothing else was available — the expense coming on top of the loss of missing the train.

Your Honour, when the police bosses meet you today (Monday), please ask them who will compensate me or the others who, I presume, would have missed trains or suffered even bigger tribulations. I am not talking about loss of money alone.

Your Honour, is there someone who will protect my right to go to the station to catch a train'


Prasun Kumar Ray

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