Scores of youngsters proceeding to appear in the common entrance test (CET) for professional colleges were unable to reach their examination centres on Saturday as insensitive protesters, including elderly people and women, did not heed their pleading to let them pass through roadblocks set up along the Dal Lake here.
Police and administration officials remained mute spectators as the charged-up protesters went around stopping and intimidating students, tourists and commuters alike at dozens of roadblocks manned by youths, some of them carrying sharp-edged weapons, egged on by elderly protesters supervising this free-for-all situation.
The protesters refused to allow the hapless students a safe passage along the foreshore road even when the latter begged and showed their admit cards.
"I have to go back. This is hell. These people are agitating for their so-called rights by infringing on my basic right to seek a career in life. Where is the government," asked a dejected girl who was to appear at one of the centres inside Kashmir University.
The students who missed the opportunity to appear in the CET had their examination centres inside Kashmir University and Regional Engineering College in the city.
The protesters were demanding free access to building material for houses around the Lake and no restriction on constructions in the area.
Similarly, tourists were unable to visit the famous Mughal gardens around the Lake due to the protests held against Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), which is responsible for the preservation of the Dal Lake and its eco-system.
Acting on state high court directions, LAWDA had disallowed taking away of building material from around the water body and also dismantled illegal constructions posing a direct threat to the delicate ecology of the Dal Lake.
The residents of areas around the Dal lake forced shut all markets outside the Mughal Gardens. The area wore a deserted look due to absence of tourist inflow on Saturday.