For the second consecutive day, Kolkata's business centre became hostage to disruptive demonstrations and traffic snarls, courtesy twin mega rallies by a minority and student organisation.
Widespread barricading by police to restrict movement of rallyists also forced the common people, tired of waiting in stationary vehicles, to try to reach their destinations on foot.
Even hours after the rallies ended on Friday, the city police failed to remove the barricades thus prolonging the agony of not only those riding vehicles but also pedestrians.
One of the rally was called by minority organisation Ashiqane-Rasool Committee at Shahid Minar in protest against the anti-Islam film made by an US producer. As rallyists converged on the venue from all parts of the city, the police had to go into an overdrive to ensure no trouble broke out.
Barricades were placed on all major intersections of central Kolkata by neck-high bamboo fences and huge traffic diversions ended up inconveniencing commuters. The second rally was called by All India Democratic Students' Organisation to protest the move to make passing classes till class eight in government schools compulsory. They argued that such a step would deteriorate the standards of education in the state and pave way for privatisation of education.
"The whole stretch of JL Nehru Road from Birla Planetarium to KC Das crossing was blocked, to prevent rallyists from coming near the American Center. Those coming to SN Banerjee Road via Moulali had to take a detour. Traffic was also diverted from various points in Central Avenue," said Dilip Adak, DC traffic-I.
On Thursday, rallies were organised by a number of Muslim organisations like All India Majlish-e-Ulema Islam and All India United Democratic Front. The AIDSO rally which proceeded from College Square towards Esplanade was stopped at Bowbazar crossing. Protestors then squatted on the road adding to the woes of traffic police and citizens on the move alike.
On Friday afternoon, traffic ceased to move between the whole stretch from Rani Rashmani Road to Exide crossing. Vehicles were stuck at KC Das and Dorina crossings for hours when rallyists were marching towards the gathering at Sahid Minar.