It was liberation of a different sort that hundreds of revellers decided to celebrate as they descended upon India Gate on Wednesday night.
They were everywhere — on the lawns, the streets, the footpaths, the roofs of their vehicles or the bumpers of those belonging to, and driven by, fellow revellers.
Minutes after India beat Pakistan at the much-hyped World Cup semi-final match at Mohali in Chandigarh, the reverberations were felt deep within the heart of the capital as a unique blend of cricket fanatics and ecstatic Delhiites turned the colonial war monument into an epicentre of pride.
“This is just amazing. I had no idea the celebrations would be as tremendous as this,” exclaimed 23-year-old Shifa Khan, a Delhi University student as she took a breather after a ‘wild’ drive around the Outer Circle, Connaught Place.
“We were watching the match at a friend’s place in Patel Nagar and just couldn’t wait till the end of it. We were so confident that India would win that we left his house in our Team India jerseys with two overs remaining and waved the tricolour all the way down till here,” she said.
Even families who were visiting the monument for a general outing couldn’t resist the high-fiving swathes of teenagers as they blew their vuvuzelas — of the FIFA World Cup fame — and shaking a leg to popular Punjabi numbers as they cheering for India’s men in blue.
“I’ve been born and brought up in Delhi, but this is something I’ve never seen or expected to happen in a city known for its snobbery and individualism.
Absolute strangers joined in the fun with each other and all of us are happy about one thing — the victory which belongs to us all,” said Sharad Sharma, 45, a businessman from Rohini.
Smita Bansal, a housewife from Civil Lines agreed. “We just couldn’t sit at home. I was switching between channels while watching the match at home with the family when we saw some news channels showing that the celebration had already started at many places.”
But the carnival-like celebration had its flipside, too.
While several teams of the local police were seen marching down Vijay Chowk to keep the law and order situation from getting out of hand, as many as 70 people were challaned for drunk driving at four areas in just three hours.
“Since we hadn’t predicted such a tremendous and spontaneous outburst from cricket fans, our teams were positioned at only four areas, namely the India Gate, Connaught Place, Vikas Marg and Shalimar Bagh. However, arrangements will be very different and strict both on Friday and Saturday — especially against drunk drivers,” said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police (traffic).