The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Commuters caught in protest by marooned

Want to draw police attention to your problems' Just get together and block the nearest thoroughfare. And if the roadblock happens to be on Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue (VIP Road) a handful of people, a couple of bamboo sticks and 30 minutes is all it takes.

That’s exactly what 20 young men and a woman of Dum Dum Park did on Friday night to highlight the administration’s failure to prevent waterlogging in their area. They blocked both lanes of VIP Road from 10 pm, throwing night-time traffic out of gear and causing chaos along the entire stretch, from Ultadanga to the airport.

Police, who took a while to reach the spot, succeeded in dispersing the protesters without much of a fuss.

The demonstrators had earlier turned a deaf ear to pleas from stranded commuters, especially those headed for the airport. Sudhanshu Roy, a resident of Bangur Avenue, was among them. The employee of a private firm, anxious to get back home with his wife, son and 80-year-old mother, was held up. “You can go home with your family, but not before you wade through the knee-deep water at Dum Dum Park,” shouted a protester.

Several commuters were seen doing just that, trying to find a way out of the logjam. Airport authorities said the blockade might have hit a section of passengers rushing to catch a Thai Airways flight.

“You cannot go unless water in our area subsides or some arrangements are made by the municipality to pump it out. Otherwise, you have to come forward and help solve our problem,” said one of the organisers of the roadblock.

“But how can we do that' Will the roadblock help solve the problem'” asked one of the commuters stopped by the blockade.

But the pleas were either ignored or snubbed by the protesters, some alleged to be CPM activists. Police officers from Lake Town and Baguiati, hardly a kilometre away from the trouble spot, made no effort to arrest the protestors for the disruptive blockade. “How can we arrest them when their houses have been inundated in rainwater'” asked Ajay Nand, additional superintendent of police, North 24-Parganas.

Police officers, however, failed to explain why four persons — allegedly affiliated to the Trinamul Congress — had been arrested from Joramandir, near Baguiati, barely two months ago for a similar offence, where the demand was the apprehension of a local extortionist.

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