Traffic snarls choked the capital for over 12 hours from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday evening as hundreds of protesters of a religious organisation poured on to the streets to agitate over a disputed piece of land at the Jor Bagh Karbala.
The Delhi Police said the protest began with around 450 members of the Anjuman-E-Haidari being detained at East Delhi’s Mandawali police station as they marched towards central Delhi.
“The said religious organisation originally planned to court arrest at the 11 Murti in the New Delhi district,” said a senior police officer. “However, since they did not have permission, we intercepted and detained them at the nearest police station.”
After several hours in detention, the protesters allegedly refused to vacate the police station with an estimated 200 to 250 of them later resorting to stage a sit-down on the adjacent NH 24.
When the police intervened and stopped them blocking the highway, the protesters threatened to march towards the police headquarters in central Delhi.
Meanwhile, the police received inputs that the organisation had invited several hundred of its members to reach central Delhi directly, sending the security personnel scrambling and prompting them to put in place proper arrangements.
As a result, massive police deployment was put in place across Vikas Marg, Ram Charan Aggarwal Chowk, Teen Murti, Ghazipur, the Sarai Kale Khan ISBT and other arterial locations on the Ring Road.
“There was bumper-to-bumper traffic on Vikas Marg because of the police deployment,” said Kavita Sharma, 25, a private executive employed at South Extension and a resident of Mayur Vihar. “The traffic police were mindlessly diverting vehicles from ITO towards India Gate where traffic was already clogged,” Sharma complained.
Kapil Verma, who is pursuing a course from the School of Planning and Architecture located, complained that the situation was so bad that even the pedestrians had to bear the brunt.
The police said the snarls were triggered duo to diversions put in place to deter any members of the religious organisation from reaching New Delhi.
Meanwhile, Maulana Kalbe Jawad, a cleric and general secretary of the Majlis Ulema-e-Hind which spearheaded the protests, issued an appeal to his people to boycott the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections on Thursday.
Speaking from police custody, Maulana Jawad said, “We had chosen Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings by organizing a peaceful Dandi March till 11 Murti at the Mother Teresa Crescent. But the police at the behest of the powers that be did not allow the peaceful march and detained the protesters.”