Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: Hapless Bangloreans, who have been for years facing severe hardships in view of traffic jams caused by rallies and processions, are likely to heave a sigh of relief.

Taking a serious note of the inconvenience the rallies have been causing to the public, Bangalore Police Commissioner Shankar M. Bidari announced at a press conference on Saturday that the police would book a criminal case against those who block traffic during rallies.

Mr. Bidari told The Hindu on Monday that he had instructed officers to start booking cases under the Section 341 of the Indian Penal Code (Wrongful restrain) with immediate effect. The new move, senior police officials feel, could deter the organisers of rallies from blocking traffic for long duration.

Mr. Bidari said that in tune with the Karnataka High Court order that processions taken out by political parties and organisations should not pass through the streets in the city, rallies were now being restricted to parks and playgrounds. “We are even utilising the old Central Jail premises for the purpose,” he observed. Referring to the July 2005 direction of the High Court to the State Government that it should provide land outside the city for holding rallies, Mr. Bidari said a formal order has not been issued by the court so far. However, the police have started implementing most of the directions given by the court.

Over the years, the city has been witnessing on an average five rallies/processions a day and most of them are held in the central business district. Processions normally originate from either Chikkalalbagh or Banappa Park and pass through the busy Mysore Bank Circle, Kempegowda Road, Anand Rao Circle, Hudson Circle, K.R. Circle, GPO Circle and Gopala Gowda Circle. According to the traffic police, around one lakh vehicles pass through Hudson Circle every hour daily during peak time. “There are no parallel roads in the busy areas where we can allow processions on one road and divert vehicles to the other,” , a traffic police official said. The official said it should be made mandatory that those organising processions serve a notice, at least 10 days in advance to the police.