Lawyers’ protest clogs central Bangalore

Hundreds of lawyers protesting police assault on one of their colleagues caused massive traffic jams in the heart of the city for over six hours Tuesday, leaving the city dwellers and commuters fuming.

The protest that started around 12.30 p.m. at Mysore Bank circle, one of the busiest junctions in the IT city’s central business district, was called off around 6.30 p.m.

The lawyers said they had taken to the streets as one of their colleagues was beaten up by a police constable Jan 14 for not carrying the licence while driving his car.

They wanted immediate suspension of the constable and insisted on city Police Commissioner B.G. Jyothiprakash Mirji talking to them.

The circle is located on Kempegowda Road leading to the main and inter-state bus stations, and the city railway station.

Scores of commuters were forced to walk, many with their luggage, over two km to reach the bus stations and three km to the railway station.

Police effort to divert traffic from the Kempegowda Road only resulted in snarls in surrounding areas and at one time spread to the city’s famous M.G. Road, about five km away.

The situation was highly tense for some time as angry public began arguing with the lawyers for blocking traffic. Efforts of police officers, however, eased the tension.

Mirji came to the Mysore Bank circle around 5.30 p.m. and told the lawyers that he will take action against the guilty only after an enquiry.

However, demanding the constable’s immediate suspension, the lawyers rejected Mirji’s appeal to end the blockade.

Mirji told reporters on the spot that he suggested that the lawyers nominate one of their representative to hold a joint enquiry.

“If they are not satisfied with our enquiry, they can file a case in a court and we will order the probe by any agency the court directs,” he said, rejecting the demand for immediate suspension of the constable.

Asked why he took such a long time to come, Mirji said the lawyers association office-bearers had told him they will come to his office. “I was waiting for them,” he said.

As word spread that police were planning to impose prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more people in the area to break the logjam, the lawyers association held a meeting and decided to end the blockade around 6.30 p.m.

Association president K.N. Subba Reddy told reporters that the protest has been called off but demand for action against the constable stood.

He also apologised to the people for the nearly six hours of chaos in the heart of the city.