JAMMU, Feb 3: The visit of VVIPs including Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and other VVIPs in Jammu to attend the Indian Science Congress today threw the life completely out of gear till this afternoon with majority of road including all three bridges over river Tawi closed for vehicular movement to facilitate smooth movement of the VVIPs to the Science Congress venue.
The Jammuites especially the office, colleges and school goers apart from the patients and their attendants had a nightmarish experience as they were trapped in massive traffic jams for hours together and were seen cursing the VVIPs, the civil, police and Traffic authorities and others at the helm of affairs for the miseries suffered by them on the roads.
A visit to the City and eyewitness account revealed that there was complete chaos on all roads in the City and outskirts as authorities had close all three bridges over river Tawi and virtually stalled every kind of movement-at some places even by foot on the name of security of the VVIPs including the Prime Minister, which caused enormous inconvenience to the people, who had to go to their business, offices, colleges, hospitals and other destinations etc.
The tourists, mostly the pilgrims of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine and other people, who had to catch their flights, trains, buses or other modes of transport were the equal sufferers as they had to travel carrying their luggage with no transport-even the civil vehicles were not allowed by the authorities to ply on the roads till this afternoon.
“This is the worst kind of experience, I have ever seen. The VVIPs do travel in Delhi also but nowhere the entire City is closed for vehicular movement. Here, the administration has no security plans and it seems, they want to keep the roads free from civilians by virtually imposing civil curfew to give smooth roads to the VVIPs,” said a New Delhi businessman, Naveen Anand, who had to trek a large distance to catch the flight.
Not only the Tawi bridge at Vikram Chowk but two other bridges at Gujjar Nagar and Canal Road had also been closed for traffic. This had reportedly been done to keep the traffic suspended and ensure that no traffic reached Vikram Chowk-Satwari road, which had been virtually sealed.
While the Prime Minister had to reach Jammu University at 10 am for inauguration of Indian Science Congress, authorities had closed all roads leading to Jammu University nearly two hours ahead of the schedule. Even civil vehicles were also stopped an hour ahead of the VVIP movement. With all three bridges over river Tawi closed for traffic, massive traffic jams were witnessed on peripheries of the City as the vehicles heading towards the City were stopped at all entry points.
While the Prime Minister had to move from Raj Bhawan at 9.45 am for Jammu University, authorities had blocked all roads leading to BC road around 8.30 am. At some places, even the civilians were not allowed to walk on the road to be taken by the VVIPs, the office goers said.
The people recalled that this was not the new phenomenon. Even when the State VVIPs had to travel on the City roads, Traffic police and police stop traffic when the VIP is nearly two kilometers away, thus, not only causing huge traffic jams on the roads but also causing inconvenience to the people especially the patients, some of whom could even breath their last in the absence of timely treatment.
The citizens were of the view that the Government should construct helipads for the VVIPs at Raj Bhawan, Chief Minister’s residence, Jammu University and Civil Secretariat so that they travel by air to major destinations and the common man was able to move on the roads, at least. Jammu City has no alternate roads like New Delhi and Chandigarh and whenever the VVIPs visit the State, the common man had to suffer a lot.
The people opined that the Government should either declare a holiday or impose curfew during the VIP visits so that offices, colleges, schools etc are closed and the people didn’t have to suffer a lot.
While the Prime Minister left Jammu around 11.30 am, the massive jams caused in Jammu were cleared only around 1 pm. A number of people reached their offices around 1 pm while the students couldn’t make it to their colleges and schools.
The people hoped that better sense would prevail upon the Government and the administration and they would take some measures to ensure that the `aam aadmi’ didn’t suffer due to the VVIP culture.
Several organisations have warned that they would be forced to stage protests against the irresponsible attitude of the administration towards the people during the VVIP visits as every kind of activity is brought to a halt by the authorities to appease the VVIPs on the name of their security.