The employees of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), who are protesting against the privatisation of the Kolkata airport and are on a relay hunger strike, were demoralised on Tuesday as they did not get a chance to meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
The relay hunger strike, which began on Tuesday and will continue till Friday (October 25), is being organised near the toll counters off the main road that lead to the new terminal building of Kolkata airport.
Given that Mamata is opposed to privatisation, the AAI employees, especially the women, were hopeful that they would be able to meet the chief minister while she was on her way to the airport for her trip to North Bengal.
The meeting would have afforded the staff an opportunity to tell her their side of the story and explain how the central government’s decision to privatise the airport would lead to the selling off of national assets eventually.
According to the various employees of AAI, the police played spoilsport since the chief minister’s convoy was taken to the airport by another route and not the main route.
All employees, especially the women, present on the dais where the strike was going on, had been hopeful that the chief minister would step down from her vehicle and give them her support.
But that did not happen. “The chief minister’s convoy had come to the airport via Belghoria expressway. The police instead of taking the convoy through the main road, took it through the entrance that connects Jessore Road to the airport at gate number 2 and a half,” an aggrieved AAI employee said.
The police, on the other hand, pleaded that they were not responsible.
“Since the chief minister had come from Nabanna in Howrah, the convoy took the normal route of Kona expressway, NH-6 and Belghoria Expressway.
“Her convoy entered the airport premises from Jessore Road and the airport connector at gate number 2 and a half since there was no need for it to go all the way to the VIP Road and the airport connector and then go to the airport from there,” explained a police officer.
“It was just a coincidence. The employees could have got a chance to meet the chief minister if the convoy had taken VIP Road,” the officer said.