BAJRANG DAL activists who had gathered near prominent City hotels and at Janata Square on Rajwada with an intention to disrupt New Year celebrations on Sunday night were caned by police and forced to disperse.
Bajrang Dal activists, acting as self-proclaimed cultural and moral police, started doing the rounds of the City’s hotspots, including Sayaji hotel and Fortune Landmark hotel, which are mostly patronised by the rich and famous. About a 100 activists on motorcycles, with some vehicles carrying as many as three of them, revved up the area.
The activists were wielding flags, banners and clubs and tried to create a fear psychosis outside the hotels and deter people from attending the gala celebrations going on inside. They might have actually succeeded had the police/administration not taken timely bold action.
The activists had to give up their plans of creating a scene outside Sayaji Hotel looking at the heavy security arrangement including local police, Special Task Force and private security guards and remain content by just shouting some slogans in front of the hotel.
The activists then went towards Fortune Landmark hotel and seeing similar level of arrangement there, gathered in large numbers at Bapat Square from where they tried to rush towards the hotel and make a forced entry. Policemen used mild force and caned them, forcing them to flee the spot.
Led by Manoj Malpani, who has a record of staging brazen acts like capturing the chair of a TI in the course of a demonstration at a police station and a similar act recently at the Excise office, was taken into custody in the ensuing melee.
The activists again gathered at the same square, but were shooed away by the MIG police station force. Another major activist Pradeep Nayar, who had received a thrashing at the hands of District Collector Vivek Aggarwal while staging protests last year, remained conspicuously absent from the scene.
The activists, however, managed to commit stray acts of violence causing damage to property. Some vehicles were pelted with stones and an autorickshaw was overturned near Palasia Square late in the night while windowpanes of two City buses were also broken near Vijay Nagar Square.
In another incident, a very large group of young revelers gathered at Rajwada Square at bout 1 am. The group started exchanging pleasantries with the passers-by, which soon degenerated into eve-teasing and lewd acts. The police, however, sprung into action and prevented the situation from turning ugly. Earlier some Shiv Sainiks also tried to disturb the peace, but their plans were foiled by the police.
The police remained vigilant and strict throughout the City. Hundreds of youths out on the streets carrying more than two persons on their two-wheelers were stopped and the air from their tyres was released making them walk in search of a pumping station.
Traffic at most of the well-known spots remained a mess despite best of efforts and arrangements. Major difficulties were faced at 56 Shops and at MG Road. Treasure Island mall management, aware of the closing deadline and apprehensive of fears by demonstrators shattering the glasses shut shop at 11.30 pm.
In the ensuing commotion some customers were even jostled and pushed. The mall saw a record footfall and ran out of parking space leading to chaos on the MG Road. The traffic was again disrupted when some vehicles collided with each other and one even jumped the divider, causing traffic jam.
Aside from these minor incidents, 2007 was ushered in with parties and prayers. All sorts of hotels, restaurants, roadside eateries and open gardens remained jam-packed. While the low income group gathered at such public places as Rajwada, the middle rung chose 56 Shops and the eateries and ‘dhanis’ located some distance away from the City. The elite mostly congregated at Sayaji and Fortune Landmark hotels.
Sayaji staged four different parties befitting different pockets and mindsets including those hosted at Vrindavan Vatika (having DJ Earl and singer Akriti Kakkar), at Kebabsville (with Rajasthani folk dance), and the special parties at Go Bananas and discotheque – Quorum. Fortune hosted a ‘Red Rain’ theme party. An assortment of dishes, plenty of booze and rocking music were the benchmark of such parties.