It was yet another traffic nightmare in Lucknow on Monday. Thousands of private teachers from across UP staged a demonstration in front of the Vidhan Bhawan and blocked the busy road for most part of the day. As a result, vehicular movement on all the connecting roads was thrown out of gear for nearly four hours.
Another dharna - that of government employees at the same spot later in the day - also added to the road chaos.
It all began at 12:10pm when teachers under the banner of UP Madhyamik Vitiviheen Shikshak Mahasabha assembled at the Dharna Sthal pressing for their demands. The agitators staged a sit-in on the main road.
Undeterred by the requests from administration officials, the numbers grew and took shape of a huge gathering. Police diverted traffic to other routes.
The agitators were demanding a fixed monthly stipend and aided school status for their institutions. “Announcement of a stipend is in the government’s manifesto, still they are not implementing it. We want a GO to be issued,” said RS Yadav, state president of the association.
As their was no let-up in the traffic mess till 4pm, many passengers missed their trains, office-goers reached their workplaces late while students missed classes.
Parents and guardians could not pick up their children/wards waiting in schools and emergency services remained crippled during this period.
The protest, which lasted for over four hours, forced the traffic to move at snail’s pace. Several commuters were seen walking their way from Hazratganj to Charbagh.
“The authorities should have a contingency plan for such situations. It is the common man who ends up suffering. I had to pick up my children from CMS Station Road. The school gets over at 1pm and I am already late by an hour,” rued Shyam Mohan, a commuter caught in the jam.
This was not the first time when an agitated mob held hostage the road leading to Charbagh railway station -- the main artery of the state capital.
“A few passengers, especially those coming from Hazratganj, missed trains like Shatabdi Express,” confirmed a railway official.
Throughout the day, the administration was helpless and failed to control the situation, till a delegation of agitators was taken for negotiations with the government. “We tried our best but failed to convince them till 4pm,” said RP Singh additional district magistrate (east).
The protestors did not even lend an ear to the requests of former UP and Uttarakhand chief minister ND Tiwari who reached the spot at 2pm.
The veteran Congress leader tried his best to pacify the teachers to end their protest promising that he would take up their grievances with the government. “I support your demands. I will speak to Mulayam Singh Yadav and the chief minister,” he said.
Given the regular inconveniences faced by commuters due to protests on this road, it was high time authorities woke up and shifted the Dharna Sthal from Vidhan Sabha Marg.
Monday’s protest was not the first time when protestors held this main artery of the city to ransom. Every time a demonstration is staged, the first casualty is the traffic.
It was perhaps because of this reason that the previous government shifted the Dharna Sthal to Jhulelal Park and declared the area as a special security zone.
But with the shift of power, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on March 23, announced that the place for expressing dissent would be shifted to in front of Vidhan Bhawan. Since then, even in the absence of any written communication, the protests are being organised in Lucknow.