It was a race against time on Wednesday night as Delhiites rushed to petrol pumps as soon the hike in fuel prices was announced. Their aim was to fill their cars before 12 midnight, from which the new prices were to come into effect.
Long lines were seen as people desperately waited for their turn. Said Sushil Goel, owner of a petrol pump in Hari Nagar: "People were desperate to get petrol and diesel. Some people were even ready to pay more; afraid that by the time their turn comes, there would be nothing left. But the majority of the people who caused the rush were looking for a quick bargain."
There was a maddening rush at petrol pumps in South Delhi; some even shut down after the crowds became uncontrollable. Due to the rush to save money on petrol one last time, the people who suffered the most were the ones who were genuinely running low on gas.
"My car was running on reserve so I went to the pump station at Nehru Place. The sight was horrific. Around 70-80 cars and a minimum of 10 trucks were parked in front of me. I somehow managed to reach the Malviya Nagar petrol pump and there also I had to wait for half an hour before my turn came," said Siddharth Roy, a fashion designer.
There were reports of jams in front of petrol pumps at Nehru Place, IP Extension, Aurobindo Marg and other areas. Some people fought over petrol, abused and tried to rough up employees of the gas stations and were generally unruly. Also,
people wanted to fill up all the cars they owned at one go, thereby increasing the rush.
Ashu Pandey, owner of another petrol pump said: "Vehicle owners were baying for each other's blood. As the queues got longer, they got rowdier. They were rude to our staff and it was difficult to control them at one point of time."
Things were back to normal after midnight as the new prices came into effect. "How much money will these people anyway save? A mid-segment car holds around 30-35 litres of petrol. It might last for, may be four to five days at the maximum. But then they will have to get petrol at the new prices. It is sheer stupidity on the part of the people who think they will save money this way," said Arnab Sengupta, an MBA student.