Curbs on processions, marches remain ineffective

The State government order imposing curbs on processions and demonstrations through the arterial and other busy roads in the capital city during working days and a Munsiff court order of December 14, 1995 prohibiting these during the morning and evening peak hours from RR Lamp to East Fort are being obeyed more in the breach.

On Monday, the KSRTC Reserve Driver Rank Holders took out a march from behind the Government Secretariat through the arterial road to the Transport Bhavan at Fort at 10 a.m., causing traffic snarls.

The traffic police personnel all along the route were mute witnesses to the march taken out on the first working day of the week. Though the marchers did not occupy the full width of the road, traffic was disrupted along the stretch despite the volunteers trying to make way for vehicles.

As per the Munsiff court order, processions and dharnas are prohibited on all working days from the RR Lamp to East Fort from 9.30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Though major parties obey the order, several organisations do not.

As per the order issued by the Additional Chief Secretary in 2004, the organisers should give at least three days’ notice to the highest police officer in the district stating the reasons and purpose of the procession and the approximate number of participants. The participants will not be allowed to occupy the entire breadth of the road. They should also not carry unwieldy banners. Pedestrians should be allowed to cut across the processions and demonstrations at all junctions and the police should help them cross the road, the order had said.

But even small groups of protestors march down the road denying right of way to other road-users.

The National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (Natpac) had suggested identifying a ‘square’ or a ground not too far away from the city, either on the Chakka-Kovalam NH bypass stretch or at Shanghumughom, for rallies and dharnas.

Political parties and other organisations had opposed the plan as they feared that their programmes would not get media attention.