The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Killer rally, but in Andhra

Hyderabad, Dec. 18: As an ignored politician showed off his manpower, a young woman paid with her life.

Andhra Pradesh High Court yesterday issued a notice to the state government to explain how a legislator was allowed to hold a rally on Thursday that choked the city's traffic and left an ambulance carrying 24-year-old Savitri Reddy stranded. By the time it reached hospital, Reddy, who was suffering from a liver ailment, was dead.

Last year in Calcutta, a similar traffic snarl caused by a political rally claimed the life of six-month-old Shabana because her parents could not reach Medical College and Hospital in time.

The 'chalo Assembly' rally, called by Congress MLA P. Janardhan Reddy, was to draw the administration's attention to the plight of the sacked workers of Hyderabad Allwyn after its privatisation. But sources said the legislator, angry at being kept out of the state cabinet, wanted to convey a message to the Congress high command on the eve of chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy's visit to Delhi to clear political appointments.

As the slogan-shouting agitators hit the streets, policemen turned into spectators. The rally, which began in the morning, brought vehicles to a halt. Even the desperate pleas of the young woman's mother failed to melt the hearts of the demonstrators. Children had to walk more than 3 km to reach school.

Police sources said city commissioner Dinesh Reddy was forced by the local legislator to permit the rally despite prohibitory orders because of the Assembly's winter session. 'The police deviated from the norm of permitting rallies in a non-traffic region,' Chief Justice Devender Gupta said. When the Assembly is in session, rallies are not permitted within a radius of 2 km from the House.

DCP traffic T.K. Menon pleaded helplessness. 'I have to manage with only 40 per cent of the required work force to keep the city's transport moving,' the officer said.

This is not the first time city residents have suffered as a result of rallies. In 1999, the then chief justice, Prabha Shankar Mishra, was caught in a traffic snarl. The judge was late for the court by four hours.

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