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Away from the Red Carpet, A Sea of Red Protest

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 2 (UNI) Away from the red carpet and warm handshakes, it was a sea of red flags, caps, banners and angry chants against US President George Bush in Parliament and elsewhere in the capital today.

Even as the Indo-US talks got underway in the sanitised Hyderabad House, hundreds of slogan-shouting Left and Samajwadi Party workers rallied at the Ramlila Grounds to protest the Bush visit.

A large number of MPs, including those from parties supporting the UPA Government, came wearing red caps to Parliament. The Left, the Samajwadi Party and the TDP forced adjournment of both Houses of Parliament over the Bush visit. Proceedings in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly too were stalled because of protests there.

Truckloads of cheering Left and Samajwadi Party workers, students and others descended from nearby states at the Ramlila Ground, which turned into a sea of red flags, caps and banners.

''Mass Murderer, Bush, War Monger, Go Back, Go Back, Go Back'', they shouted. The parties have been accusing Mr Bush of war crimes and of meddling in the affairs of other countries. They have been opposing American policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and elsewhere in the world.

Protests by organisations, including the 'Azadi Bachao Andolan', the red and black flag waving crowds, security restrictions in force on Mr Bush's routes, made life difficult for the man on the street.

A large section of citizens took the underground Metro route to reach schools and offices. Metro Stations were teeming with unusual crowds. Security personnel posted there grappled with the rush while long queues were seen at ticket windows.

The Lok Sabha was adjourned till 1400 hrs and the Rajya Sabha till 1200 hrs soon after the two Houses assembled as the Left, the Samajwadi Party and the TDP disrupted proceedings.

Shouting slogans, the members described Mr Bush's visit as an ''affront to the nation and to Parliament'' which, they said had already adopted a resolution condemning the American attack on Iraq and its continued occupation of that country.

A large number of MPs from the four Left parties, the SP, the DMK and the JD(S) also held an hour-long sit-in protest at the Parliament's Gate No 1. They also flayed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for breaking protocol to receive the US president at the airport.

The protests today followed a major rally yesterday by Islamist organisations in protest against US actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran.

UNI VN PA DS1237

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