Happy Hartal!!!

Posted on January 12, 2007. Filed under: bandh, kolkata, Politics |

The other day I recieved a forwarded SMS from a friend of mine with the following message:
English man subha uthkar bolta hain-Good morning.
Hindu says : Suprabhatam
Muslim: Salam
but aj kal subha uthkar Mamta Banerjee Bolti hai: aj bangala bandh hai…!! Happy Hartal
For a moment, I could not but laugh out loudly. But an instant later, it no more seemed funny. And it should not either. And for all those who do not understand the signuficance of the sms here’s a list of .. well… what should I call it- poltician-declared-public holidays in Kolkata last December onwards: two 12 hour bandhs plus one 24 hours bandh and then one 48 hour bandh for various issues and various poltical parties in 31 days of December and then once again a Bandh on the 8th of January! Okay, and this list doe not include the endless number of processions and things like road blocking.. protest… all that one can think of to disrupt the life of the city and irritate just about everyone!
I understand full well that the issues the parties take up are serious and that they need to be addressed, and its not just one Miss Mamta Banerjee but Bandh is a strategic tool of peaceful mass protest, but then a simple fact is, a bandh is supposed to show that the certain issue has so much support from people that people are going on a strike till their demands are met, but the truth is people do not come out of their houses during bandh- not exactly becaus ethey support the cause or anything but simply because they are scared they might be stopped on their way and they would have to face various troubles and hazards which is not rare either! So its a “forceful” espousing the bandhs demand. And for that matter there is a certain section of the population who are not even aware of why this strike has been called!!
Kolkata’s annual calendar has hardly been bandh-free for years now and finally,now that the ruling party is taking steps to curb the number of such abrupt halts… the opposition seems to be reluctant.
I am not a poltical or even social expert… but as a layman- as an young student of both the city and the country, I just want to ask one question- is bandh the only peaceful way to go about it? I only know nothing is absolute, so there must be alternatives. And all I know is, it is high time such alternatives are adopted because there are professions other than POLITICS in the city.. in the country, in which having a ‘bandh-day’ is neither helpful nor desirable… and there are certain people like daily labourers for whom a day-off implies -a fast.

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