There was confusion at the Mumbai airport for the second week in a row as groups of agitated passengers headed home to Kolkata staged protests, demanding compensation because their flight was over two hours late.
No amount of explaining — that they should have adjusted their watches to Western India Time — would pacify them.
They finally agreed to proceed to the boarding gate after being given compensatory watches set to Maharashtra time. They have promised to remove the watches upon their return home tomorrow, to avoid any further confusion.
Fliers have not been the only ones affected by the dual times zones introduced in India last month.
The state’s political atmosphere has been tense ever since the change came into effect, with MNS chief Raj Thackeray continuing his threat of “violence and retribution” against all government clocks.
In a series of political rallies, Thackeray repeatedly accused the Congress-NCP led state government of agreeing to the time zones only because it favours Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Bihar being two hours ahead of Maharashtra, he said, was a clear indication that the government was suggesting the superiority of North Indians over Maharashtrians.
In Uttar Pradesh, meanwhile, there have been violent protests on the streets of Lucknow following Mayawati’s suggestion that the state be divided in two, in keeping with the two new time zones.
Mayawati is also battling dissent from within, as party MLAs whose constituencies fall in the Western Indian Time zone continue to accuse her of selling out to the upper castes, whose constituencies fall in the Eastern time zone and are hence two hours ahead of them.
The MLAs allege that this is a move against the oppressed and backward sections of society and a further attempt to deprive them of development.
The new time zones have left the ICSE and CBSE boards in a quandary too. Their rules say Class 10 and Class 12 board exams must begin simultaneously in all schools across the country.
Members of the both the boards met yesterday to debate whether to begin exams two hours early in schools in the Eastern Time Zone.
Sources say the Boards have decided to install sundials in all schools and follow those instead.
In related news, coaching classes across the country are now offering to teach bewildered students how to read a sundial “in just one week”, in exchange for the reasonable sum of Rs 30,000 per head.
Reports in the state media in Pakistan, which seems to have taken a keen interest in the implementation of the dual time zones in India, have hailed the ISI for its “most successful covert mission” to divide India.
Back home, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, which had conducted the original feasibility report on the dual time zones plan, has promised another report on how the ongoing confusion can best be addressed.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office says he will soon address the nation to soothe frayed nerves and calm tempers, but the UPA seems divided over the timing of his speech.