Traffic came to a grinding halt in the city on Monday as thousands of residents came on to the streets to protest the government's decision of demolishing more than 12,000 "illegal" structures falling in the 50-metre radius of the Indian Air Force ammunition depot.
Fearing demolition of their properties, several residents had held an emergency meeting on Sunday and decided to block Atul Kataria roundabout and Bata Chowk during morning rush hours.
Besides damaging two government vehicles, youths carrying hockey sticks and iron rods were even seen threatening the commuters.
"The colonies have come up over a period of time and the authorities cannot decide overnight that they are going to demolish the houses. We are ready to die but won't let the administration raze our houses," said Kalpana Singh, a resident of Sheetla colony.
More than 5,000 locals gathered on the Old Delhi road from 8am and blocked the road leading to Delhi.
"We are not against demolition but why are the authorities choosing properties falling only in the 50-metre radius. If construction is illegal in 900-metre radius of the ammunition depot, then why this pick and chose policy," said OP Kataria, who owns a farmhouse on the Old Delhi road.
All property owners were asked to either demolish the structures on their own or remove their belongings by Monday morning.
"We have to start from somewhere and thus have taken the decision to remove commercial establishments falling in the 50-metre zone. For residential areas, we are going to make an alternative arrangement but demolition is necessary as it raises security concerns," said deputy commissioner Rajendra Kataria. Protesters demanded to meet the DC but he didn't turn up at the protest site.
"This is not the way to talk by holding commuters at ransom. If they want to talk, a delegation of not more than 10 can come to my office and talk about the issue," Kataria added.