Twin agitations shut down entire City
THE CITY remained closed today on the twin issues of reservation in higher education institutions and increases in taxes. While Indian Medical Association (IMA) had called a ‘medical bandh’ against quota, various traders’ fora had called for a strike against VAT and the entry tax proposed by the Indore Municipal Corporation.
The grand finale to the day’s activities came with a ‘maha rally’ against reservation attended by the intelligentsia of the City. People of the City were united in their protest over the twin topics and even bore the inconvenience and lent unequivocal support to the strike.
Health services were crippled, with private hospitals and clinics remaining closed and public hospitals functioning at less than half their capacity. Government doctors took en masse casual leave in support of the cause. Patients were the sufferers as nothing except emergency services were on and those suffering from minor or curable ailments were turned down.
However, in many instances private doctors in their clinics and junior doctors who are sitting on indefinite strike at the Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Hospital (MYH) attended to patients who were suffering and needed immediate care and treatment.
The ‘maha rally’ began from MYH at 4 pm, and passing through RNT Marg, Shastri Bridge and Rajwada, culminated at Krishnapura Chhatri.
The administration and police tried to provide an alternative route to the protesters but the rally, which was already on the move could not be pressed on to a detour. Police also tried to persuade the protesters into changing their path at Shastri Bridge, Mrignayani Emporium Square and at the end of Krishnapura Bridge, but backed off on gauging the mood of the public and looking at the vast sea of protesters. The ‘maha rally’ continued on its pre-decided path.
IMA functionaries had earlier planned to hold a public meet at Rajwada for which they had not been given permission. However, they passed in front of the Rajwada building placing banners at the feet of the statue of Ahilya Bai and held a ‘vichar manthan’ at Krishnapura Chhatri.
ADM Rameshwar Gupta, SDM Uma Shankar Bhargava and SDM Vivek Shukla were seen concurring with police officials over the dilemma of the ‘maha rally’ having taken the route of MG Road, which had been kept off limits for rallies as per a High Court order. The police are mulling over filing an FIR against the functionaries of the IMA over this.
IMA national vice-president Dr S N Goyal, local chapter president Dr Arun Agrawal, secretary Dr Rajendra Sodani, State JDA general secretary Anand Rai, JDA representative Dr Mohit Bhandari, neurologist Dr Apurva Puranik, Sarv Brahmin Yuva Parishad president Vikas Awasthi, Akhil Bharatiya Maheshwari Mahasabha joint secretary Ashok Kumar Daga and Mahesh Tolani (who had immolated himself at Rajwada when reservation was introduced through the Mandal commission) addressed the gathering at Krishnapura Chhatri.
The speakers termed reservation as a ‘venomous snake’, proscribed political outfits and pledged to continue their agitation till reservation was completely phased out.
In a related development, Dr B R Ambedkar Research Institute (Mhow) Professor R D Mourya, speaking at the first Arti Joshi memorial lecture organised by CPI-M, said that instead of ending reservation the double standard being followed in education should be done away with.
Party secretary Kailash Limbodia said that reservation would not be required in a class-less and educated society. Several social organisations including Brahmins, Kshatriya, Vaishya and others joined the fight against reservation.
Traders closed their shops/institutions against entry tax and VAT while also lending their support to the cause of those agitating against reservation. Dawa Bazaar, Marothiya, Sarafa, Cloth Market, Sitlamata Bazaar, Khajuri Bazaar, Rajwada, Kothari Market, Siyaganj, Maharani Road, Ware House Road and other commercial areas of the City remained completely closed.
The bandh was called by Ahilya Chambers of Commerce and Industry and supported by Association of Industries. Revenue loss of several crores was assessed from the one-day strike in the commercial capital of the State. According to a senior trader at Dawa Bazaar, medicines worth Rs 3 to 4 crore were sold daily, which gives an idea of the impact by the bandh on trade and industry.
All traders spoke in unison against the highhanded practices being followed by various agencies in the State, thereby stifling trade and scaring away investment. They said that when agencies like municipal corporations having little understanding of commerce were vested with the powers to levy taxes at will, no effort could help the State come out of its position of a BIMARU State.
The City has witnessed a voluntary bandh of this magnitude after a long time, wherein all shops/institutions including essential services remained closed. The participation of youth and members of the public from all walks of life was overwhelming. Even government doctors, teachers of medical colleges including MYH Superintendent Dr D K Jain attended the ‘maha rally’.