Tempers ran high and the agitated and harassed commuters were seen arguing with the protesting Northern Railway Men's Union staff at the Jagraon Bridge on Monday.
The two-hour protest by the union against the recent Central government decisions paralysed the traffic, as the bridge is the only link that connects two parts of the city.
The union was protesting against allowing foreign direct investment in the retail sector and the recent hike in diesel and LPG cylinder prices.
Hundreds of vehicles ferrying schoolchildren, women and patients were stuck in the jam for almost two hours. Even the police seemed to have taken a soft stance towards the protesters who blocked the national highway.
The harassed commuters, infuriated by the jam, were seen indulging in heated arguments with the union officials. They forcefully removed the barricades put up by the striking employees to clear the way.
"These unions should hold protests in front of ministers' houses instead of creating problems for the general public," said a furious city resident.
Purshotam Das, another city resident, said, "These unions are misusing the democracy. Strong action should be taken against such people. The government should provide a specific place for the unions to hold protests. Blocking road is illegal and it is a breach of human rights."
Reema, a resident of the Shahpur Road, said, "I kept waiting for my five-year-old daughter who did not reach home at time. I came to know about the strike by the railway union later," she said. Reema's daughter was stuck in the jam at the bridge along with her classmates. "It was so hot and chaotic. Our rickshaw didn't move an inch for more than an hour," said she.
The railway employees started the protest at around 11 am by blocking the bridge. Addressing the gathering of railway employees, Daljeet Singh, divisional secretary, said they were against the FDI, as it would deprive six crore people from employment. He also demanded a roll back of the hiked diesel and LPG gas cylinders prices.
Unperturbed by the commuters' agony, Singh said they would block the rail traffic again in case the government did not take any action.
Among those who addressed the gathering were rail employee's leader Paramjit Singh, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha and district president, Mohinder Singh Seelon, textile labourers' leader, Raja Ram Verma and Nirman Majdoor Union leader Mohan Lal.