Thousands of Congress workers were on Friday detained all over the state when they made a bid to block road and rail traffic to protest demonetisation by BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. However, all of them were released within a few hours after the police recorded their names and addresses. The biggest traffic road blockade was held in front of the inter-state bus terminus at Geeta Mandir, resulting into traffic jam, particularly on the road leading to Kalupur market and Ahmedabad railway station.
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However, police removed the protesters and cleared the road by detaining more than 200 of them in 10 vans. Among those detained at Geeta Mandir included Ahmedabad City Congress Committee (ACCC) president Chetan Raval, MLAs Gayasuddin Sheikh and Shailesh Parmar, Ahmedabad City Mahila Congress president Majulaben Bhardwaj, State Youth Congress president Gulabsinh Rajput and leader of opposition in Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Dinesh Sharma. ACCC president Chetan Raval said that they had planned ‘rail roko’ also but dropped it at the last moment.
Several Congress leaders, including Surat City Congress Committee president Hansmukh Desai, councillors Dinesh Kachhadia and Ashok Jirawala climbed on roof of engine of the Gujarat Express at Surat railway station and forced the train to halt for about 20 minutes. But the Government Railway Police swung into action immediately and got the rail tracks cleared of protesters by detaining more than 50 of them, including SCCC president Hansmukh Desai. They were all later on released.
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Similar protests were held at the Bharuch railway station as well. Former MP Kunvarji Bavaliya and a group of local leaders tried to stop a Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) bus at Nagrik Bank Chowk in Rajkot city. The Congressmen also tried to stop the Jabalpur-Somnath Express at Bhaktinagar Railway Station but the GRP removed them from the tracks. Bavaliya and 12 others, including seven councillors of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation, were detained at headquarters of the city police. They were released after 40 minutes.
Similarly, Congress MLA Raghavji Patel was detained along with other Congress workers after they blocked the traffic at Theba crossroads on state highway-25 on the outskirts of Jamnagar. Meanwhile, other Congress leaders disrupted traffic movement at Seven Roads junction for more than half-an-hour. After male workers were detained by police, women workers lay down on the crossroads and brought traffic to a halt. Later, they also stopped a GSRTC bus and climbed on its roof. In Jamnagar city, Congress workers led by Jamnagar city Congress committee president P C Khetia blocked the traffic on Jamnagar-Dwarka-Okha state highway for about half an hour and also stopped the Saurashtra Express at Jamnagar railway station for 20 minutes. About 200 Congressmen with Setia were taken into detention.
In Junagadh, the protests were led by Visavadar MLA Harshad Ribadiya and leader of opposition in Junagadh Municipal Corporation, Satish Virda. They jammed vehicular movement at Gandhi Chowk in Junagadh city.
The protest in Morbi town was led by Morbi District Congress Committee president Brijesh Merja at Old Bus Stand. There were reports of heated exchange of words between Congress protesters led by Devbhoomi-Dwarka District Congress Committee president Pratapsinh Jadeja and the police at Khambhaliya town. Police later on detained 40 of them and cleared the road that had been occupied by protesters. Congress workers jammed the road by taking out a rally on the state highway between Anjar and Gandhidham in Bhuj district.
In Vadodara city, the Congress workers held up the traffic along the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway near Dumad Chowkdi, by setting ablaze rubber tyres and chanting slogans against the ruling NDA government.
Initially, the party had planned an early morning rail roko event at Vadodara railway station which was cancelled. Later, as a ‘surprise’ element, the party workers of the youth Congress held up highway traffic for about half hour until police detained several party workers to clear the roads for the traffic.
City Congress leaders organised a bus roko programme at the Rajmahal Road, waving party flags and chanting anti-demonetisation slogans. Police detained several top city leaders, including city unit president Prashant Patel and leader of opposition in Vadodara Municipal corporation(VMC) Chandrakant Shrivastav.
Party spokesperson Nilesh Brahmbhatt said, “We successfully carried out two protest demonstrations and our leaders were detained and released by the police. We called off the rail roko agitation following instructions from the party’s state executive so as to not inconvenience railway passengers as our fight is against the government’s unplanned implementation of demonetisation.”
The Congress workers in Banaskantha district led by Banaskantha district Congress Committee president Zakir Hussain Chauhan blocked the traffic for about two hours at Palanpur. There were reports of similar protests from Amreli, Bhavnagar, Botad, Surendranagar, Porbandar and Aravalli districts.