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On March 10, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s motorcade set off for a Central Industrial Security Force ceremony in Ghaziabad, outside Delhi. For two hours, the overzealous Delhi and UP police halted traffic on all roads close to Mr Advani’s route. As a result, possibly hundreds of boys and girls reached their Class X board examination halls up to an hour late. Imagine you are a 16-year-old. You are taking the most important examinations of your life. Your career, your choices, your self-esteem depend on this (they should not, but this is the inescapable reality). Through no fault of yours, you reach the hall 45 minutes late. The trajectory of your entire life changes. Can there be anything more cruel than this? Newspaper reports even said that brutish policemen holding up the traffic mocked pleading parents by telling them: "If you are in such a hurry, you should have taken a helicopter."
This is only the latest episode in India’s disgraceful vip security saga. Innocent citizens have been beaten up for straying near vip cavalcades, patients have died in ambulances forced to wait while chief ministers went by to cut some stupid ribbon somewhere, and now futures of our children have been jeopardised. I am sure Mr Advani is as ashamed of this as everyone else, but the harm is already done. The CBSE will hardly give grace marks to students who reach their halls late. In any case, how do you quantify the trauma that these children went through and which would surely have an effect on their performance in other papers too? The next day, the home ministry issued a circular saying that vip security should not disrupt citizens’ lives. This standard assembly-line response is a sick joke. Not a single person involved has even bothered to apologise to the affected children or their parents. This is outrageous and obscene.