Most of the major markets were closed on Monday as traders protesting against resumption of sealing drive against their establishments from Wednesday began a three-day bandh that was marred by clashes with police outside the Delhi assembly.
A large number of traders and BJP leaders assembled at the Vidhan Sabha on the first day of its ten-day Winter Session to protest against the drive. They blocked traffic on the main road and those leading to the building besides pelting stones at police.
Shouting anti-government slogans, they broke the security cordon and surged towards the assembly building as police used water cannons to disperse them. BJP leaders VK Malhotra, Jagdish Mukhi, Harshvardhan and VK Goel and General Secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders Praveen Khandelwal, were among scores of those courted arrest outside the Vidhan Sabha.
The protestors also burned the effigies of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Union Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy.
Meanwhile, all major markets including Connaught Place, Lajpat Nagar, Paharganj, Karol Bagh, Greater Kailash, Chandni Chowk, South Extension, Mayur Vihar, Khan Market and Kamala Market remained closed, traders claimed.
Only some restuarants and ATM counters were open in the markets. Some roadside fruit and vegetable vendors also sold their wares despite the bandh.
"Though we are directly not affected, we still support the bandh as the sealing drive will hit the livelihood of lakhs of traders and employees," General Secretary of Khan Market Traders' Association Harish Malik said.
Even though the traders had claimed that they will ensure the bandh will not cause any inconvenience to general public, protestors blocked roads at several places in the capital, including the GT Karnal road, triggering huge traffic snarls.
While chemists downed shutters in support of the bandh, doctors and hospital staff have come out to back the strike, but refrained from closure of services. All the major political parties are also supporting the bandh.
Though the Delhi government has not declared a holiday, several private school managements said their institutes would remain closed today.
Police has made elaborate security arrangements to patrol the nook and corner of the capital to check violence during the three-day bandh as was witnessed on September 20 during a similar protest by traders.
With the Seelampur violence still fresh in their minds, Delhi Police deployed more men and paramilitary personnel to maintain law and order and appealed to people to desist from damaging public property. The personnel have been adopting a cautious approach while dealing with the agitators.
Besides lot of diversions by DTC to avoid trouble-prone areas, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has suspended services between Delhi University and Kashmere Gate on the advise of the police in view of demonstrations by traders and BJP workers outside the Vidhan Sabha.