DISMANTLE INDIRA GANDHI PARK TO RESTORE THE DEMOCRACY POINT

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Residents of government quarters in both the sides of Mahatma Gandhi Marg spanning between the Assembly junction and the Railway station roundabout in Bhubaneswar are deeply disturbed due to use of amplifiers by demonstrators who gather in the boulevard in hundreds and in thousands every now and then to voice their protests against unrelenting misrule.

The residents have been demanding for a ban on demonstrations and / or protest gatherings on MGM or in the boulevards in deference to their right to peace and tranquility. And conscious as they are of the adverse impact of noise pollution that the demonstrations generate, they are absolutely justified in raising this demand.

Public demonstrations and protest rallies are not the only events that bang the boulevards here; but also this is the place where state level ceremonial parades take place to the crippling of free movement of the residents as and when required by the authorities. So, the residents are really disadvantaged.

The Government quarters flanking MGM are of highest types and occupants thereof are high placed official functionaries except a marginal few from media.

No wonder the government has decided to oblige them by promulgating a permanent ban
on demonstrations and protest rallies as per demand of the concerned residents.

The Home Secretary is eager to locate an alternative place where demonstrations may be allowed.

Reportedly a high level team is pressed on the job. Nothing could be more laughable and ludicrous.

Were the boulevards flanking MGM ever earmarked as the places for the aggrieved public to offer their demonstrations that now the government is planning to change?

What sort of a government is in power now? Why it is so confused?

Are the demonstrators rushing to Bhubaneswar streets daring scorching sun or showering clouds or chilling cold waves for a dating with administration so that they should be expected to offer their proposal decently in a designated place?

Peoples are thronging MGM boulevards to voice their protests against lack of probity in administration, against loss of direction in administration, against injustices they are subjected to under administration, in a nutshell, against misadministration.

They are coming to break law on records on the roads of the capital city in order to show the government that they have no more any respect for the laws of the land as the same do not help the peoples but act as umbrellas to protect the exploiters and the enemies of the peoples.

One is to see to believe how enthusiastically peoples are breaking laws and jumping into police vans after administration arrests them; no qualms, no remorse, no repentance. This happens when peoples perform patriotic duties oblivious of repressive measures the government may take.

The Country is theirs and that is collapsing under continuous misrule by commission agents in possession of posts of power. Therefore the protest rallies, therefore the demonstrations.

Is the government expecting that the peoples who gather to register their protests through civil disobedience would obey official orders to demonstrate their protests in a place directed by the government at a far away distance from the State Secretariat?

If the government feels it would happen then here is a government that seriously lacks in sense of proportion.

Peoples will never honor any order that would restrict their rights to voice their protests against misrule.

Therefore, instead of making a farce of its own order, it would be better for the administrators as well as for democracy to dismantle the Indira Gandhi Park and to restore it to its previous position of a democracy points.

When Capital of Orissa shifted to Bhubaneswar, the ground where Indiara Gandhi Park now stands was earmarked as the democracy point. It was reserved for democratic activities. The State Level ceremonial parades on occasion of the Independence Day and the Republic Day were taking place on this ground. When eminent leaders were addressing the peoples they were doing that on this ground. Prime Ministers beginning from Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi had addressed the peoples on this ground only. Similarly Leaders of Opposition beginning from the legendary communist leader A.K.Gopalan, who was the first recognized Leader of Opposition in India to the present leader of Opposition L.K.Advani had addressed the peoples on this ground. Leaders neither in power nor in the opposition benches of Parliament but in hearts of every Indian like Rajaji had addressed the peoples from podiums on this ground. This was the ground where aggrieved peoples of Orissa were voicing their concern and demonstrating their protests against bad governance and this was the ground from where peoples of Orissa were receiving informed signals to change administration in their State.

J.B.Patnaik, under whose rule in nineteen eighties, this ground had been umpteen times used by the peoples of Orissa as their lunching pad to send salvoes of protest against corruption and misadministration, had wanted obliteration of this excellent point of vigilant participation of the general public in democracy. The opportunity came to his hand when Indira was assassinated on going back from Orissa after delivering her last speech on this ground. His coterie proceeded immediately to destroy this ground of immortal memories and to extinguish every possibility of its future use by the vigilant public against misrule. In the name of creating crescent lake, profuse money was spent to remove soil from where now the water pool of BDA Nicco Park stands and to dump that soil on this ground to build up Park landscape. Money was looted both the ways; but the loss was nothing for the government to bother. Indiara Gandhi Park emerged on the deathbed of democracy on this ground.

Now when the government is planning to obstruct people from expressing their vigilant reaction on misadministration by putting a ban on use of the MGM by demonstrators, it would be better for officials to note that the government that had then declared to have ceremonial parades in the Kalinga Stadium or in a ground to be named Janata Maidan following conversion of this ground to the Indira Gandhi Park is not keeping to its decision and on the contrary, it is causing the parades on MGM as hinted to above.

So, it is time, the mischief behind creation of Indira Gandhi Park be reassessed and steps be taken to demolish it in order to restore this ground as the democracy ground where peoples as before would address and be addressed in matter of vigilant participation in democracy. It would be rather a befitting tribute to Indira who had delivered her last public address here.

The Forest Park is quite near to this spot and is enough to accommodate the visitors of Indira Gandhi Park.

Unless it is done, any attempt to deny peoples the right to voice their protests against misrule or to air their warnings to their government on basis of vigilant participation in democracy would be futile and lead to confrontation which would be dangerous to democracy.

So, demolish the Indiara Gandhi Park with Indira’s statue kept in tact to witness democratic participation of general public in keeping on leash an errant administration.

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