The right road to protest

Following Guidelines

Bangaloreans insist that protocol has to be followed while holding demonstrations.

Chaotic : The common man had to bear the brunt of the lawyer’s protest.

The furore that followed the demonstration staged by a section of Bangalore’s lawyer community last week may have died down, but in its aftermath, the City seems to be harbouring a deep sense of bitterness towards the protesters. The advocates may have been protesting in the name of a cause that they personally felt to be just, but the fact remains that they ignored the protocol that has to be followed before any demonstration is held — which includes informing the police in advance so that public inconvenience can be kept to a minimum.

The demonstration caused a six-hour traffic gridlock around Mysore Bank Circle — a nightmare on Bangalore’s already crowded roads. While many commuters were impossibly delayed, some faced much more serious worries since ambulances and school buses weren’t spared either. In fact, many felt that the protest was organised in an irresponsible and unlawful fashion.

As Debraj, a professional, says, “One should always protest in the right manner, so that they don’t disrupt other people’s lives.”  Jyothiprakash Mirji, the City’s police commissioner, maintains that it’s imperative that procedure is followed to a register a protest or demonstration of any kind. “One has to request permission in writing. Then, we will tell them which route to take and suggest how to protest in a manner which doesn’t affect the public,” he explains, adding that the police sometimes take on the responsibility of blocking roads and putting up diversions to minimise traffic.

Surprisingly, it would seem that some members of the lawyer community are in agreement with him. At the same time, in the case of last week’s demonstration, they feel that the police force could have responded to the disruption in a more timely manner. An advocate, who refused to be named told Metrolife, “The advocates were definitely wrong in planning the protest in this manner. Before protesting, the local police has to be intimated. They will pass on the request to the DCP, who may or may not give permission to hold the demonstration.”

On the other hand, he adds, “In this instance, though, I feel the police could have also responded earlier. Around five years back, I was involved in a similar protest. At that time, the commissioner called us over to his office right away to listen and discuss our complaints. The whole matter was handled in a much more amicable way.”

Naveen Rao, a surgeon, maintains that protests should be held in allocated areas, so as not to inconvenience others. “In foreign countries, this practice is followed. Demonstrating in the centre of the City, which is a very busy area, causes a chain effect — the repercussions spread to other parts as well,” he says, adding, “I also heard that last week, advocates stopped some ambulances as well. As a doctor, I find this disturbing — if it’s a matter of a patient’s life, it isn’t correct to behave so
irresponsibly.”

Debraj concludes, “In this case, the common man was at a loss. People travelling on work, going to hospitals and children in school buses were the ones who suffered.”

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