On Friday, it was the women workers from the unorganised sector — ranging from domestic maids to bidi rollers.
They were marching to Parliament, to press for better wages and benefits. And Connaught Place, the heart of Delhi’s business, came to a standstill, yet again.
This year, Connaught Place has been jammed for 45 minutes to an hour on 4,914 occasions, on account of protests.
Tolstoy Marg, one of the busiest roads in the city with four major traffic intersections, is a witness to a procession, rally or dharna almost everyday, disturbing business activities.
With Parliament in session and gatherings a daily affair, everyday brings its own challenges for motorists.
“On Thursday, a building caught fire on Janpath. Thanks to a procession by god-knows-who, fire services and CATS ambulances had to take a detour to reach the spot. Why does the government even allow such rallies at one of the busiest places in the city,” said Abhishek Gupta, a businessman.
“Customers are not able to reach the shops, we do not get our supplies on time and all this happens on a daily basis. We are the ones who suffer,” said Atul Bhargava, president, New Delhi Traders’ Association.
Passing the buck
Delhi Police claim that their job is to prevent any law and order problem. The traffic police, on their part, claim that they are supposed to issue advisories for only major gatherings, and control the traffic. But no one thinks about the motorists who get stranded for hours.
“Every second day I am late for work just because a group of people are looking for some attention,” said Rahul Aggarwal, a software consultant.
Why Jantar Mantar?
Pressure groups feel Parliament Street is the best place to hold a gathering. “We know people might face some inconvenience, but we have to get our point across to the decision makers as well,” said Gurudas Dasgupta of All India Trade Union Congress, which organised Friday’s protest.
It is legal
According to Delhi Police, it is legal to hold gatherings at Jantar Mantar with prior permission. “Jantar Mantar is an official area specified for holding dharnas. Everyday, we get four-five applications from people who want to hold a gathering,” said Additional Commissioner of Police Shankar Dash.