Agra: Lawyers and activists from Agra and neighbouring districts Wednesday held a march here to press their demand for a high court bench in the Taj city. They ended their demonstration in a public meeting at the Shah Jahan Park Crossing near the Taj.
According to the directives of the apex court, no demonstration or meeting can be held within 500 metres of the Taj Mahal.
A few lawyers, however, tried to sneak in but were prevented by the police and security forces.
Politicians from various parties, including the Congress and the Samajwadi Party, supported the demand for the high court bench in Agra, as recommended by the Jaswant Singh Commission.
The steering committee of the demonstrators announced another march to the Parliament House in New Delhi would be held Dec 19.
A memorandum to the president was presented to Agra`s District Magistrate Ajay Chauhan.
A large number of tourists were inconvenienced and forced to walk long distances due to traffic restrictions.
Since morning there was a massive deployment of security forces around the Taj Mahal, and the road from the Yamuna Expressway via Yamuna Kinara Road was heavily guarded.
Conservationists have expressed concern over use of the Taj Mahal for protests.
"The Taj Mahal should be spared. It is the crown of India and nobody should use it for partisan purposes," said Shravan Kumar Singh, a conservationist.
The issue of setting a high court bench has become a kind of football between Meerut and Agra. No political party wants to antagonise voters in one part, said senior lawyer Hemendra Chaturvedi.
Given the size of the state, a bench of the high court in Agra was a very valid demand and has been hanging fire for more than three decades, Anil Sharma, a lawyer and president of the Agra Press Club, said.
The Jaswant Singh Commission set up by the central government in early 1980s had specifically recommended Agra for setting up a bench of the Allahabad High Court.
Uttar Pradesh already has its high court located at Allahabad, one of the oldest in the country, with a bench at Lucknow.
Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh`s meeting with Law Minister Ashwini Kumar three days ago for a high court bench at Meerut had ignited the agitation in Agra. However, Jayant Choudhary - Ajit Singh`s son and MP from Mathura - has supported Agra`s case.