On Monday evening, Delhiites were formally banished from their favourite evening haunt - India Gate.
Road signs proclaiming the 2-km stretch a ‘No Parking’ area left it looking barren, lifeless.
Families out for an enjoyable evening with loved ones feared stepping out of their cars as patrolling Delhi Traffic Police officers imposed fines on halting vehicles.
“It’s suddenly become very inconvenient to visit India Gate,” said Satvir Singh (23), an MA student of Delhi University.
“I took a long detour as they’ve closed half the carriageway on Rajpath. Then, while I was asking an ice cream vendor where I could park my bike, a traffic police officer came and fined me for improper parking,” he said.
Observing Satvir’s dilemma from a distance, Gurinder Singh (36) and his family decided to go back home.
“The only time that I’ve seen this area under such tight security is a day before the annual Republic Day celebrations,” said Singh, a resident of Rajouri Garden.
Glimmering ice cream carts, which used to do brisk business and provide radiance to the concrete street leading to the cherished war memorial till just a week ago, stood in a corner.
“Doing business here has become almost impossible,” said Shankar, an ice cream vendor.
“I've screamed myself hoarse begging people to buy from me since afternoon. But people just pass by us with no parking allowed at Rajpath,” he said.
According to police officers, however, this is the way it was always supposed to be.
“Just like hawkers and ice cream vendors, parking has never been allowed here in the first place,” said a senior police officer.
Police said parking was available at the Kasturba Gandhi Marg and Shahjahan Road.
“This is a high security area — how can we let people leave their cars.anywhere. This area should have been declared a no parking zone a long time ago,” he added.