[First posted on Thursday, December 22, 2005]
Not a single day passes when you don’t hear tales of abarodh. If you’re a frequent traveler on local trains, you would’ve never missed being a party to abarodhs, mostly on losers’ side. The game of abarodh has been perfected to such a finesse that in most cases it doesn’t take more than 10 people to bring traffic to standstill.
Political parties, specially the present rulers, can rightly claim its invention. Any reason, supposedly concerning ‘larger interests’, would justify laying siege to thoroughfares, suffering of others be damned. Though of late better sense has prevailed over political class, the damage is already telling.
So long we’ve known that bandhs and processions for no apparent rhyme or reason are meant to cripple normal life. Because large masses of people who silently stand by, must be made to understand ‘issues’ that allegedly affect those who participate. These days, issues do not seem to matter. Rather whims do. Witness the recent spell of abarodhs all over the state for the simple reason that Sourav wasn’t included in national side. At one place I could see a local lad, having led a band of traffic-stoppers, jumping in joy for being ‘cynosure of all eyes’.
Then again, there can be stoppage on a trunk route because the water-main in the vicinity has developed leakage. Why, I’ve faced an abarodh to ‘mourn’ the expiry of an aged local politician, and another to ‘protest’ against occupation of a playing field by a real-estate developer, and many other for equally flimsy reasons!
Stuck there, what immediately strikes you is complete lack of sensibility on the part of these so-called protesters. If you dare raise your voice, you’re held in utter contempt, and be told in no uncertain terms to mind your business. Pray what business, if any, may I mind, if I’m held hostage to the whims of others? Any answer there?