A choked Capital was clogged too on Sunday, recording long traffic snarls after police closed a busy roundabout at India Gate where students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) gathered to protest against the disappearance of a fellow student from the campus.
As roads leading to the C Hexagon, which carries traffic from north to south and east to west, became out of bounds for vehicles around 1.30pm, tailbacks extended from various intersections in central Delhi.
The situation worsened with hundreds of people travelling to the Yamuna banks for Chhath Puja.
Police blamed the abrupt shutdown on JNU students. “We requested the protesters not to assemble near India Gate as prohibitory orders are in force… but they did not listen. We had to shut the C Hexagon to stop them from going to India Gate for security reasons,” New Delhi deputy commissioner of police Jatin Narwal said.
Even chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was not allowed to pass through the roundabout.
“India Gate was turned into fortress. I was going to meet the President and got 15 minutes late. What are they doing in the country? This is being converted into police state,” he said later.
Road management for Chhath Puja also affected traffic flow. Vikas Marg was cordoned off, leading to a gridlock on Mathura Road. Commuters were clueless as traffic police didn’t provide diversions and alternative routes.
“Getting stuck in traffic on a day when the air quality was poorest in 17 years was a nightmare. My daughter was continuously coughing, there was no visibility and we got stuck for two hours. I tried to take a different route, but nothing helped,” Said Shashank Saha, a businessman, who was taking his daughter to a doctor. They missed the appointment.
“If they had to block the route, they should have issued an advisory.”
The worst-hit areas were Mathura Road, Prithvi Raj Road, Parliament Street, Rafi Marg, ITO, Krishna Menon Marg, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, Lodhi Road, and Daryaganj.
“Adequate policemen were deployed to ensure smooth movement of traffic, but situation became difficult during peak hour. The C Hexagon was opened around 7pm, which helped ease the situation,” joint commissioner of police (traffic) Garima Bhatnagar said.