Sir — I heartily congratulate the brave railway passengers who taught a lesson to the political activists who had blocked the railway lines at Habra to protest against rising prices (“Passengers derail blockade, saying it won’t lower prices”, Feb 8). The sole aim of such protests by political parties is to make their presence felt. It doesn’t matter to them if such events inconvenience the common people in any way.
This particular incident should set a precedent and send a strong message to the politicians of West Bengal who have made it a habit to call bandhs and engage in other disruptive activities at the slightest pretext. These strikes end up being thoroughly unproductive — wasting time, causing harassment, draining the state exchequer and serving no real purpose. Citizens should make it a point to raise their voices against such political muscle-flexing.
Pijush Banerjee, Calcutta
Sir — It is heartening to know that the commuters of a local train stopped party workers who were protesting against the price rise by blocking the railway tracks. The passengers also reminded the party cadre that such agitations were not going to bring the prices down. This episode revealed the common people’s ingrained disgust for such futile agitations. But, more importantly, it affirmed the fact that the people of West Bengal have attained some maturity and are now ready to show the politicians their place.
Over the years, politicians of this state have taken the citizenry for granted. Bengal’s leaders have called bandhs and held rallies according to their whims and fancies, with utter disregard for the people’s dignity and their basic rights. So far, the people have put up with this injustice silently. This has made our politicians even more complacent. They keep on using the people for their own petty gains. Arguably, in no other state in India do politicians dare to treat the common people in such a shabby manner.
Now that the people of Bengal have found the courage to rebel against politicians and their smug displays of power, there is hope that the menace of bandhs and rallies will finally stop plaguing this state. But that would only happen if the people persist with their determination to confront politicians and object to such useless political agitations.
Sir — The passengers of the Sealdah-bound train from Bongaon have demonstrated how to deal with unwanted blockades and bandhs called by political parties. Such activities end up making the lives of commuters miserable. Most of us feel frustrated on the days of strikes but can never muster the courage to go out and do our work fearing retaliation from the party cadre. But if all of us were to decide that we are not going to get bogged down by these strikes and show the kind of unity and determination that were displayed by the passengers of the local train, perhaps we would be able to bring about change in society.
However, for that to happen, our mindset needs to change first. If we really want to transform the current situation in West Bengal’s, we should be ready to take the lead.
Abhishek Pandey, Calcutta
Sir — I would like to thank The Telegraph for placing the news report, “Passengers derail blockade, saying it won’t lower prices”, on the front page. This incident serves as a silver lining in the cloud because it took place in the midst of continuous atrocities by political parties that exploit the people repeatedly and trample on their basic rights. I would also like to thank the passengers who forced the protesters to lift the blockade at Habra for taking such a bold step. People must rebel against the irresponsible diktats of politicians more often in the future.
Hiren K. Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — Nothing has been done to check the spread of unauthorized hawkers in Calcutta, either by the Left Front government or by the Trinamul Congress-run municipal corporation. The Left Front seems to have accepted defeat even before the assembly polls, and has therefore stopped worrying about governance. On the other hand, the TMC has not been able to offer any concrete plans for the development of the city and the state. As a result, Calcutta is now in a mess — the hawker problem and the traffic situation are getting worse by the day.
There are hawkers in most cities across the world, but nowhere do they operate as lawlessly as in Calcutta. In other cities, hawkers only occupy areas legally allocated to them. But in Calcutta, they seem to have encroached upon the entire stretch of the city. The hawkers are protected by both politicians and police. One hardly finds a pavement that is free of hawkers these days. As a result, there is no space left for pedestrians. The hawkers not only occupy pavements illegally, but some of them also steal electricity. They are unfairly exempted from paying taxes and rent. Instead, they seem to be paying hefty sums to the police, the local hoodlums and the party cadre towards ‘protection’. But a shopkeeper who intends to sell his products legally by renting a premise has to pay electricity charges and taxes, but is regularly hassled by the babus at government offices. This, it seems, has made hawking in Calcutta a more attractive option. If the situation remains unchanged, one fears that the hawkers will become impossible to control in the future.
Raj Bagri, Calcutta