Gesture for Solidarity Day

new delhi: the traffic police wants us to spare a thought for terrorism. in fact at 10.30 am, they will give us two minutes to do just that. and delhi will come to a halt, quite literally, when traffic will be stopped across the city as a symbol of solidarity against terrorism. this is the first time authorities here have officially implemented what has largely been a "do-it-if-it-appeals-to-your-conscience" kind of effort to express sentiments over any national crisis in the past. also, it is the first such appeal prompted by an international tragedy, a distinction which came-in for strident criticism from delhiites on monday. the plan comes in the wake of an appeal issued in the name of prime minister atal behari vajpayee, asking people to observe a two-minute silence to mark the solidarity day against terrorism at 10.30 am on tuesday. the appeal, publicised widely on monday, is accompanied by images of the 1999 kandahar hijacking, the 1993 mumbai serial blasts and the anantnag massacre this year, besides the world trade centre attacks. "i have instructed all my men to halt traffic at every junction. but i am not legally enforcing it...there won't be any chase-and-nab routine for those who don't stop," joint police commissioner (traffic) maxwell pereira said. quite naturally, emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire engines will be waived through. pereira knows this is the first official attempt to enforce an erstwhile voluntary act in delhi. this means, and he acknowledges it, the delhi police could be open to criticism. ``i am sure heavens will not fall if all of us do this for two minutes in the name of terrorism,'' he said. but while this may throw-up a unique sight in the capital ^ traffic halted at every junction and the peak office-hour chaos which a hallmark even on normal days it has certainly prompted officers looking for contingency plans. ``there may be pile-ups but i can't predict the extent,'' pereira said, adding he hoped delhiites will understand the solemnity of the occasion. at least, some in delhi agree. nirmalya chatterjee, 65, retired civil servant and greater kailash resident dismisses it as a token gesture. "a two-minute wait on way to office is not an inconvenience. it can make people feel they are fighting for the same cause," he said. nilabh kapoor (28) who owns a software firm, pixellent solutions, also won't mind waiting as long as it is painless. "it is symbolic and if the police manage it without causing pile-ups, it's okay," he said. others question the provocation. "why has it taken new york attacks to make us mourn victims of terrorism? soldiers die in kashmir everyday. nobody cares...this hypocrisy is difficult to understand," said meenakshi sinha, 54, a housewife in south extension. for aman verma, 27, a rajouri garden-based exporter solidarity is ok as long as its expression is not forced. "why stop rush hour traffic? people would have made appointments, fixed meetings in the morning. can we cancel all that because our prime minister wants to express solidarity against terrorism and disrupt routine," he asked. echoes sahana kapoor, 27, a graphic designer with the niit. "it is pointless. so many died in bhuj earthquake, people are still desperate for food in orissa, soldiers and civilians continue to die in kashmir and no one cares. when new york is attacked, the government wakes up to the need for solidarity," she said.

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