Readers’ take: Stir for cause, don’t put traffic on pause
Most residents of the Chandigarh tricity advocate striking a balance between the interests of locals and protesters. They suggest earmarking designated sites for staging protests, resolving grievances in time, giving advance notice to officials before holding a demonstration, clearing the way for ambulances and school buses, ensuring peaceful assembly
Deal with protesters with a firm hand
Frequent protests have become the talk of the day in the tricity. The administration and police remain mute spectators as protestors block roads, inconveniencing commuters. Students and teachers are often late for school due to traffic and many a times school buses are seen stuck in long jams. With the authorities and opposition parties supporting protesters there seems to be no solution in sight. These protests usually take place at CHB Chowk, Sector 25 and YPS Chowk, all of which lead to the City Beautiful. Not only do these agitations paralyse the tricity, they also jeopardise the lives of critical patients heading to hospitals. Authorities must prevent lawlessness on roads and deal with protesters with a firm hand.
Prem Lata, Mohali
Designate spot for protests
Protests can lead to progress, only when carried out peacefully. Many agitators misuse their constitutional right to protest and damage public and private property, raising havoc. This is unacceptable as they cause traffic jams and loss of public property. Loud sloganeering disturbs people living in the vicinity, especially the elderly and cardiac patients. With protesters taking over most of the road, people are often late for work, examination, or court. At times, even ambulances with their sirens blaring, indicating an emergency, are stuck in traffic. It falls to the police and administration to ensure that the common man is not inconvenienced because of protests. A specific spot should be designated to stage protests.
Avoid forcing unions’ hand
The Indian Constitution gives us the right to form associations, assemble, and exercise freedom of speech. Therefore, protesters are not in the wrong. However, before taking to the streets unions often submit a charter of demands. Unfortunately , the authorities concerned do not consider their demands, compelling them to agitate. Recently, farmers were seen squatting on a road in Mohali in the sweltering heat as authorities refused to hear them out. Later, the chief minister invited representatives for talks and agreed to most of their demands. Had this been done immediately after the farmers submitted their demands, there would not be any need to agitate on the roads, which would save protesters’ energy and money as well as commuters’ time.
SK Khosla, Chandigarh
Better grievance redressal system
The golden rule of good governance is to nip the evil in the bud. Amicable governance and a perfect grievance redressal system is needed the need of the hour. Anti-social elements should be dealt with strictly and not allowed to make trouble at public places. Citizens have the right to express their grievances, and it is the government’s duty to resolve them at the earliest.Instead of using protests to one’s political advantage, leaders should work towards finding a solution.
MPS Chadha, Mohali
Onus on cops
The right to freedom of speech essentially means the right to be heard, and governments do not hear people out unless they agitate. After all, even a child has to cry to get milk. No protest gains traction unless it causes some inconvenience to the public. It is public inconvenience, which accentuates the need for governments to hear protesters out and find a way to address their demands. Even the Supreme Court says protests can be held on roads. “If not roads, then where?” it had asked. Albeit, protests cannot be held on roads indefinitely, the court had held. It is futile to earmark a separate place for holding a protests against the government. Protests can carry on there indefinitely without achieving anything. Therefore, no protesters will ever assemble there. No wonder the space earmarked at Sector 25 remains in disuse. The ideal place to protest in Chandigarh will continue to be Matka Chowk. The onus is on the police to maintain law and order and alleviate the public inconvenience. With installation of cameras at every traffic crossings, real time diversion of traffic can be done in addition to planned diversions. Intelligence must be effectively used to prevent mischief-makers from attending protests. Extensive standard operating procedures and rules must be framed for protesters to organise protests.
Lt Col GS Bedi (retd), Mohali
Bar protests in UT
No protests should be allowed to be staged in Chandigarh, the administrative capital of Punjab and Haryana. Agitations should be limited to the outskirts of Mohali and Panchkula where protesters will have sufficient vacant land at their disposal. The ministers and officials concerned should hold meetings with agitators well in advance so that the general public in the tricity can be spared of hardships caused due to frequent protests.
Suresh Trikha, Zirakpur
Staging protests should be last resort
Protests in the tricity may inconvenience residents, but agitating is citizens’ democratic right. They are well within their rights to express disagreement with government policies or against their employers. We should remember that India attained freedom from British rule through mass movements. Collective effort is the only way to counter arbitrary and authoritarian decisions and restore balance in society. Democratic structures can only survive in the presence of strong institutions that impose checks and balances on each other. However, agitations should not be staged with ulterior motives, and should be the last resort.
Take legal recourse
Protests are often organised under the patronage of political organisations under the aegis of national or regional-level leaders. They allow people to raise their voice against arbitrary bills and ordinances. However, unabated protests over the last year have caused law and order issues and public suffering. The administrative machinery, police, and paramilitary forces have failed to ensure smooth conduct of agitations. These stirs especially affect critical patients, students and teachers who get stuck in traffic snarls. Every effort should be made to ensure that these protests do not turn violent. Legal action should be taken against protesters if need be.
Kundan Lal Sharma, Mohali
Limit protests to specific spot
Frequent protests in the tricity have greatly inconvenienced commuters. Authorities should ensure that protest are limited to the designated spot in Sector 25 and protesters should not be allowed to gather at any other site. The government should try to accept citizens’ demands whenever possible, and protesters should also seek redressal through alternate means before staging a demonstration.
Saikrit Gulati, Chandigarh
Ensure free-flow of traffic
Protests throw life in the tricity out of whack causing massive traffic snarls in Mohali, Kharar and the entry points to Chandigarh. Either side of the highway is choked with queues and traffic comes to a virtual standstill. Traffic chaos spills to the other routes as well as commuters try to make way through alternative routes. Unruly scenes are witnessed at several places as harried commuters vent their ire against protesters. The livelihoods of auto-rickshaw drivers, traders and shopkeepers are affected and those who do not have their own conveyance were stranded. Vehicle owners often resort to driving on the wrong side increasing the chaos. The authorities concerned must ensure free flow of traffic on all roads leading to Chandigarh and the government must earmark few public places where protestors could gather and express their resentment against authorities. Nobody should have the right to disrupt normal life.
Sanjay Chopra, Mohali
The issue of frequent protests disrupting normal life is not just endemic to the region, but is a national problem. Protesters consider it their right to protest by blocking main roads and railway tracks. They pay no mid to the inconvenience caused to the common man. Officers, and leaders are hardly inconvenienced as they travel by air. A law should be framed to ensure that no highways or main roads are blocked for the protest. The police should at least ensure one-way traffic. Blocking the whole road for protesting is uncalled for.
Rajinder Kumar Budhiraja
Do not infringe on others’ rights
The frequent protests and consequent traffic snarls in the tricity remid me of journalist Alfred George Gardiner’s essay ‘On the Rule of the Road’. He gives the example of a woman with two heavy bags standing in the middle of the road. When told she was obstructing other people, she said that she was free to walk anywhere. The moral is that if we have the right to walk anywhere, our fellow beings also have the right to use public spaces safely. If all of us follow rules, we will automatically contribute to a safe, and enjoyable journey on the roads. Protestors should spare public spaces.
Usha Verma, Chandigarh
Frame code of conduct
The right to protest is a fundamental right in a democratic country, but it should not inconvenience others. Tricity authorities must earmark protest sites, which will save the public from being harassed. Need of the hour is to have a common code of conduct for holding protests peacefully to draw the attention of authorities concerned without inconveniencing the general public .NGOs and volunteer organisation must be roped in to monitor traffic diversions.
Col TBS Bedi (Retd), Mohali
Advance notice a must
An effective strategy is needed to save the tricity from frequent protests and traffic logjams. Firstly, a specific area should be designated to hold all kinds of protests. An advance notice should be given to the administration before staging a protest so that locals and traffic cops are not inconvenienced. Authorities must strike a balance between the interest of locals and protesters, and take a decision in public interest.
Prabhjot Nagpal, Zirakpur
Tricity needs joint rules
Tricity authorities should jointly frame rules and regulations to maintain the peace in the area. Every citizen has fundamental rights to dissent.However, the public should not be harassed due to the agitation. Designated areas should be demarcated for agitating, and proper parking should be arranged. Agitation should not be allowed on borders or main roads. Strict instructions should be given to the police to control the agitators and ensure they remain in the designated protest area. Outer and inner ring roads should be constructed to allow uninterrupted flow of traffic. Unions must give advance notice before staging protests. The protesters and agitators must be stopped from entering public places because the public has the fundamental rights to live peacefully. Law and orders should be maintained by the administration.
Sumesh Kumar Badhwar, Mohali
Put diversion signs
Any traffic blockage, apart from leading to inconvenience, results in loss in productivity due to lost manhours. Affected individuals go through anxious moments and lose their tempers apart from suffering financial loss on account of unforeseen detours.Protesters to be effective would like to cause maximum inconvenience and disruption of normalcy, but that is tantamount to tramping on the rights of others. Authorities should only allow protests with prior approval, and only on specified stretches that have less traffic intensity and cause least amount of traffic disruption. There should be enough traffic police presence and diversion signs should be put at road crossing and rotaries. There should not be any traffic congestion on important roads such as those leading to the airport. Any road blockage need to be cleared immediately.Entry of tractors and other heavy vehicles should be banned beyond a point so as not to add to traffic snarls.
DS Banati, Mohali
The right to protest peacefully, is enshrined in the Indian Constitution, but resorting to violence during the protest is a violation of a key fundamental duty of citizens. The right to protest is not absolute, agitators should be considerate of the rights of the layman. When protests turns violent, it defeats the very purpose of the protest. In order to stop protesters from blocking roads, police in the tricity area should follow the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court of India. When a protest is planned or announced in advance, police and security officials are able to plan an appropriate crowd control strategy. Spontaneous gatherings pose serious problems for the police. Thus, it is necessary for the police to draw a pre-emptive policy to deal with all types of protesters.
Kidar Nath Sharma, Chandigarh
Impose Section 144
We are not against protests, but it should not the at the cost of harassing the common man. Authorities should designate a specific place for protests and also impose Section 144 of CrPC at YPS Roundabout, which has become epicentre of protests.
Maj Gen TPS Waraich (retd), director, Yadavindra Public School, Mohali
Whenever we receive information about any protest or demonstration in advance, we issue a travel advisory to minimise the inconvenience faced by the general public. We advise the public to follow our social media handles to remain updated with the latest traffic situation in the city.
Manisha Choudhary, SSP (traffic),Chandigarh
Traffic diversions are key
We do our best to divert traffic during protests so that commuters are not inconvenienced. Cops are on duty at important point to avoid any jams. Sometimes, we seal some roads to maintain law and order.
Surinder Mohan Singh, DSP ( traffic), Mohali
Protesters should maintain discipline
Protests should only be held at a designated spot. Protestors also need to be disciplined and ensure that their protests does not inconvenience residents. The protesters should not block the entire road or hamper traffic.
Navkiran Singh, advocate
Reader of the week
Ban protests on highways
With protests becoming a daily affair in the tricity, the Kharar Flyover and YPS Roundabout remain choked with protesters throughout the year. Jams on highway cause unnecessary harassment to commuters. The administrations of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula should fix a designated spot for protests. A request should be put to the police and administration for space allocation. The protest site should have clean water and toilets. Demonstrations should not be allowed on roads or highways.
Sunny Dhaliwal, Chandigarh