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Martyrs’ Day rally: Two Kolkatas seen on Shahid Divas

Traffic hit near Esplanade and commuters suffer; in other places, smooth ride for some people

Monalisa Chaudhuri | Published 22.07.22, 06:33 AM
The crowd during Mamata Banerjee’s speech at the Martyrs’ Day rally in Esplanade on Thursday.

The crowd during Mamata Banerjee’s speech at the Martyrs’ Day rally in Esplanade on Thursday.

Pradip Sanyal

Traffic was closed in and around Esplanade in central Kolkata, where tens of thousands of people had converged for the Martyrs’ Day programme of the Trinamul Congress but the city was normal beyond the circle of chaos.

Away from the heart of the city, many who had stepped out of their homes for their daily chores and did not have to venture anywhere near central Kolkata travelled smoothly. Some said traffic was better than any other weekday.

Not surprising, since public transport was scarce and auto stands were deserted while many huddled in front of TV screens.

The scenes were very different around the rally venue.

Around 1pm, when chief minister Mamata Banerjee took the dais, many who were heading towards the venue were stuck at Girish Park on one end (2.8km from the dais) and Birla Planetarium (4.8km from the dais) on the other.

According to officers in the traffic control room, vehicle movement had to be stopped at the Maniktala crossing, on APC Road, at the Mullick Bazar crossing, in Sealdah, and on MG Road, Madan Street, Government Place, Red Road, Mayo Road, Cathedral Road, JL Nehru Road and Strand Road for around two hours till rallyists dispersed from the meeting venue. 

Traffic started normalising around 3pm.

A senior officer of the traffic department said a large number of vehicles from districts were expected as the Martyrs’ Day rally was being held after two years (the event was held virtually in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid).

“Accordingly, special arrangements were made at the entry-exit points of the city,” the officer said.

“The traffic guards that covered the meeting venue and the adjoining stretches were asked to ensure that vehicles other than the ones heading for the rally were diverted to roads that were free of rally vehicles,” said a senior officer.

Suvalina Chakraborty, a Class VII student of a school in Ranikuthi, said she reached her Narendrapur home on the southern fringes from school 20 minutes before the usual time because there was “no traffic” at all.

Those dependent on public transport found it difficult to get one. Around 2.30pm, half an hour after the meeting had formally ended, The Telegraph found many men and women standing at the Rashbehari Avenue crossing waiting for autorickshaws. There was none.

“I am standing here for 42 minutes. One auto came but there was so much rush, I could not get in,” said Rabin Mandal, a resident of Kasba, who had come to attend an ailing relative on Iswar Ganguly Street.

Last updated on 22.07.22, 06:33 AM
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