The Bihar government on Friday assured the Patna high court that traffic would be regulated during the human chain programme on Saturday and participation of students and teachers in the event would be voluntary.
State chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh and director general of police (DGP) PK Thakur gave the undertaking on traffic regulation and participation of school teachers and students to a division bench of acting chief justice Hemant Gupta and justice Sudhir Singh.
The court directed the government to “adequately advertise” the traffic arrangements so that the “travelling citizens do not suffer any inconvenience.”
The court had on Thursday summoned the two top officers of the state to clarify position on traffic and teachers/students participation in the human chain on January 21 across Bihar.
They also produced a copy of the government order, dated January 19, wherein it was stated that participation in human chain was purely voluntary and no pressure was being put on any person or institution/school to attend the event.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Public Interest Ligation Forum, a non-governmental organisation, which had sought to know under what provision the state government had decided to stop traffic on national and state highways for the January 21 human chain.
Counsel for the petitioner, Shashi Bhusan Kumar, quoting a newspaper, had also stated that block education officer of Sasaram has passed a coercive order that students not participating in the human chain programme would be deprived of benefits provided by the state government.
The hearing was important as about 2 crore people are expected to participate in the proposed 11292-km human chain, billed as the world’s largest, to reaffirm their commitment to government’s anti-liquor and de-addition drive.
On Friday, the petitoner’s counsel and some other lawyers, including Dinu Kumar and Amit Srivastava, cited media reports on students and teachers being compelled to participate in the human chain and plan to stop traffic during the event.
Quoting a report published in HT, Srivastava said there was a plan to stop traffic in Bhagalpur from Friday night itself.
The CS, DGP and principal additional advocate general (PAAG) Lalit Kishore assured the court that the traffic would be properly regulated as alternative routes had been created along national highways, state highways and other roads through which people would stand holding each other’s hand for 45 minutes from 12.15pm to 1pm.
Traffic would not be stopped on any route on January21, but it would be regulated from 10am.to 3 pm, they said, adding that where alternative route was not available, one lane would be kept open for traffic.
All emergency services would function without any hindrance and advocates, litigants and staff of courts had been included in the exemption list along with ambulances, fire tenders, water tankers, civil and police officials managing the human chain event, judiciary among others, they added.
The matter would be heard next on January 28