Bench summons Police Commissioner, seeks explanation for the chaos on city's arterial roads
Taking a serious view of the traffic snarl that lasted for hours in Kochi on Wednesday morning, a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court summoned City Police Commissioner M.R. Ajith Kumar and took him to task for not making proper traffic arrangements in anticipation of the rally planned by the Kudumbi Seva Sanghom.
The Bench, comprising acting Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice A.M. Shaffique, summoned the Commissioner when lawyer Sivan Madathil brought to the notice of the court the winding traffic snarl on the arterial roads.
He submitted that thousands of commuters, High Court Judges and other judicial officers were stuck in the traffic block.
The sitting of three courts, of Justice B.P. Ray, Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice K. Surendramohan, were delayed as their cars got stuck in the traffic snarls and they were forced to walk down to the court.
The Bench told the Commissioner that the police seemed to have failed to anticipate the possibility of traffic jams and take adequate measures to regulate the traffic.
The intelligence wing also seemed to have failed in this regard.
The Commissioner told the court that the office-bears of the Seva Sanghom had not given any prior notice to the police about the procession.
The police had not expected that they would take out such a procession along the roads without the permission of the police.
The Commissioner tendered an apology for the failure of the police to make proper traffic arrangements, thus causing hardships to judges and the public.
Mr. Ajith Kumar personally met the three judges who had to walk to the court and explained the situation.
Earlier in the day, thousands of activists of the Kudumbi Seva Sangham marched to the Ernakulam Town Railway station to block trains in support of their demand for inclusion in the list of scheduled communities.
The protesters started their procession from Marine Drive where they had begun to gather well before 9 a.m.
The march started at 10 a.m. and it passed through the High Court Junction, Banerjee Road and, when the police intervened, via Chittoor road from Kacherippady junction.
The protesters had initially planned to cross over to MG Road and move via Veekshanam Road but were prevented by the police who feared a total disruption in traffic on MG Road.
The procession was redirected to Ayyappandkavu from where it turned east to reach the Ernakulam Town railway station as traffic was held up all along the procession route.
A passenger coming from the northern suburbs said that it took him more than two hours for a bus to reach Ernakulam market from Aluva. Office-goers were the worst hit because of the timing of the protest march.
On the orders of the Police Commissioner, the North police station registered cases against at least 30 activists of Kudumbi Seva Sangham.
Several trains were held up for more than an hour-and-a-half on Wednesday forenoon after Kudumbi Seva Sangham activists blockaded railway lines near Ernakulam Town railway station. The Kannur-Alappuzha Express and the north-bound Parasuram Express were held up in the city owing to the blockade.
Though the two trains were the only ones directly blocked by the Kudumbi Sangham activists at Ernakulam Junction, trains following them — the north-bound Sabari Express and the south-bound Kerala Express too were delayed. An official of the Railways said that a large group, numbering about 10,000, blockaded train traffic.
Meanwhile, president of the Sangham said that around 50 people were injured in police action and that they were treated at various hospitals in the city. He said that the Kudumbi community had been trying to highlight its grievance that it had not been included on the list of Scheduled Communities despite promises by politicians.