THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The idea to have an alternative protest zone to avoid disruption of traffic before Secretariat remains a pipe dream as LDF continues to show its back towards the concept. On Friday, a day after Onam revellery at Univesity College obstructing traffic, Kadakampally Surendran, the guardian minister of capital told DC that rallies and protests in front of Secretariat will continue. District leaders of congress said that LDF had earlier shot down the idea to ban rallies on city roads while in opposition and continues to do the same even after coming to power.
“No secretariats in India barring ours allow rallies and protest to disrupt the traffic near their centre of power. Every citizen in capital city is totally against this, but the strike culture of LDF continues to choke city every day,” said congress leader and city resident M.M. Hassan. “New Delhi has Ram Lila Maidan and Jantar Mantar to stage protests. Here, we can use Putharikandam Maidan or Shanghumugham beach but government has to take initiatives, we are ready to discuss it,” Mr Hassan said.
A campaign to shift protest zone out of the city was started in 2014 but the all party meetings in this regard have failed. Later on even Mr Hassan, who spear headed the campaigns, went on disrupting the traffic by taking out rallies. Mr Surendran says that over the time, government may think of converting Central Stadium behind secretariat as a protest zone.
Waste of Time, money, health
City residents say that protests that block traffic waste their time, money and mental health. “Last day, during the SFI revelry, I was asked to take a detour and steer my SUV away at Secretariat main gate. When I reached before cantonment police station there were incoming vehicles and since police bikes were parked blocking road, another car left a dent on mine. I reached my destination at Vattiyoorkavu around one hour late. I suffered loss of money, time and my peace,” says Akhil Mohan, a techie.
No peak hour now
As per earlier High Court directive, the police can grant permission to rallies on main road after 11 am based on prior written request. However, as per cops, the concept of ‘peak hour traffic’ does not exist anymore as every hour in day is a peak hour. “Now there is traffic through the day and political and religious organisations should decide that they will not disturb city motorists anymore. We are left with no option than to equip detour,” a traffic police officials said.
City police commissioner Sparjan Kumar said that at least a weeks’ notice is required to organise diversion. “We register cases when advance warning is not taken for rallies. Legally, they can hold rallies after giving us ample time and if they don’t affect the liberty of others,” he said.