Gujjar protestors burnt effigies, pelted stones, blocked traffic and shouted slogans in the national capital region on Thursday following their call for rasta roko agitation. More than 35000 police and paramilitary personnel were deployed to check any major happening.
All roads connecting Delhi and the neighbouring towns of Noida, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Faridabad were trouble spots as scores of protestors took to the streets and scuffled with security personnel, who retaliated by shelling tear gas and resorting to lathi charge.
The NCR agitation, called by All India Gujjar Mahasabha, is in support of the community's demand for Scheduled Tribe status in Rajasthan where 39 people were killed last week in clashes between the police and protestors.
The Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road that connects Delhi and Gurgaon remained cut off for some hours as protesters tried to set a bus on fire, pelted stones at police and stopped officegoers.
At Aya Nagar, more than 100 protesters pelted stones at police for an hour. The police had to fire 24 rounds of tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.
At Aksharsham in east Delhi, the police detained 125 Gujjar protestors. The total number of people detained in Delhi, said police sources, crossed 200.
"I left around 8.30 am for my office in Noida. After reaching the DND expressway, the traffic would just not move. We remained stranded for more than three hours. Eventually I had to come back home,” said Sunita Kumar, an advertising professional.
The protestors also blockaded the Khanpur stretch at the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor. Most of the office goers preferred to stay indoors. “Sensing trouble our office gave us a day off on Thursday. They had apprehended trouble. It was better to stay home than to face trouble on the road,” said Tanisha Yadav, an investment consultant working in Connaught Place.
Protestors also gathered at Ghazipur near the Delhi Ghaziabad border early morning and blocked the National Highway 24 that connects Uttar Pradesh and the national capital. “This is to send across our message to the central government. We will not relent till our demands are met,” said a protestor.
A protest march was held at Mayur Vihar in east Delhi while protestors blocked traffic the Noida Express Highway, Delhi Noida Delhi expressway, besides stopping trains in Loni area of adjoining Ghaziabad and Dadri.
Anticipating blockades, Railways cancelled ten trains, including Nizamuddin-Kochi, Maharashtra Sampark Kranti, Nizamuddin-Udaipur and Dehradun-Bandra Express.
Sources said over 35,000 police personnel, including those from the central paramilitary forces, were deployed in Delhi and surrounding areas, particularly in Gujjar strongholds in the region.
The Union Home Ministry had put the National Capital Region on high alert two days ago following the agitation call and issued advisories to Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments asking them to take all measures for maintaining peace.