If you wanted to see the trailer of what Patna traffic would be like on Adhikar Rally day, you should have watched on Friday. A lakh of fixed-pay teachers took out a massive rally, throwing city traffic completely out of gear during peak hours in the afternoon.
Hundreds upon hundreds of city denizens got caught up in the human and vehicle pile upall around-as the capital’s nerve centre and business district was choked as never before. Children returning from school on buses, ambulances headed for hospitals, rauilway passengers hurrying to catch trains at Patna junction were caught in a bind alongwith vehciles of all description and salso rickshaws, hand carts, horse carts and the like. The rally took hours to pass, as roundabouts stood frozen, people sweating it under a brighter sun.
Shouting anti-government slogans, the teachers marched through Gandhi Maidan, Dak Bungalow, Frazer Road, New Market before culminating into a public meeting at R-Block. The teachers, who drew the attention during CM’s ‘adhikar yatra’ by showing black flags and throwing slippers, are demanding prescribed payscale and service conditions on the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’.
A couple of days ago, another wing of teachers had taken out a big ‘sikshak adhikar rally’ and the result was the same -Patna came to a grinding halt for hours. “We are demanding what is our right and we have resorted to democratic means to achieve that. If the government can talk about its right, why cannot we”” said leaders.
The rally criss-crossed the heart of Patna when the traffic pressure was immense. Even pedestrians had to hop and skip in the midst of motionless vehicles to find some passage, while the rallyists moved slowly on.
With the R-Block gate closed ‘ritualistically’ much in advance, it added more to the chaos. The queue of vehicles stretched up to the Chirayantand bridge and Exhibition Road on the eastern side, while traffic from Gandhi Maidan was diverted to lessen the pressure on Dak Bungalow.
Similarly, there was nothing moving for hours to the west of Dak Bungalow up to income tax roundabout and beyond. “It is sheer torture for the children, for it is the third day in succession, that school buses have been trapped in traffic snarl-up. Mercifully, the ‘adhikar rally’ falls on a Sunday” said a school teacher, who got down from the bus to buy a few bottles of water for the hassled children.
The teachers, on the other hand, warned that they would intensify their agitation if their demands were not met. “Instead of an assurance, we are being threatened. Our leaders have been arrested for fighting our cause. We want to send the message across that we will fight till last. We will intensify our agitation” the leaders said.
Bihar secondary schools teachers’ association, said that teachers across the state wore black ribbons as part of their pre-determined agitational programme from October 30 to November 2. The association said there would be demonstrations before the district magistrates in all the districts on November 3. “If the demands are still not met, the association will hold a big demonstration before the chief minister on November 10,” it added.