With the sealing drive slated to resume soon following clarification from the Supreme Court that there would be no relief for unauthorised shops in residential areas, the Delhi traders again took to streets during their 24-hour bandh call on Tuesday.
Angry traders pelted stones at buses in East Delhi, blocked traffic all over the city, laid siege at the MCD office and staged protest demonstrations. However, heavy police presence ensured that there was no breakdown of law and order during the strike. An additional force of over 2,000 armed paramilitary personnel was also deployed.
All schools in the city remained closed in view of the bandh call. The streets wore a deserted look, as most people preferred to stay indoors in light of the violent clashes during previous bandh calls by the traders on September 20 and the three-day strike from October 30.
The traders, however, remained anxious to know when the sealing drive would resume. The two-hour meeting of the Supreme Court-constituted Monitoring Committee that met in the afternoon to decide on this issue remained inconclusive.
The committee members would resume discussions with the MCD officials and the Delhi Police later in the evening. Besides fixing the date for the drive to resume, the committee has to also outline the modalities so that the drive is carried out in a planned manner.
The Vikas Marg stretch in East Delhi was the worst affected area – six companies of police force were deployed to watch over the agitating traders.
Teargas shells were fired and the police had to resort to mild lathicharge to disperse the crowd as protestors went on a rampage and pelted stones at the security personnel.
Besides damaging over half a dozen buses, angry crowds broke the windowpanes of a police vehicle that was transporting some protestors who were detained from Mayur Vihar.
The other areas that witnessed violence included Rohini, Paharganj, Jail Road (Hari Nagar), Green Park and Malviya Nagar.
In Hari Nagar, the protestors burnt tyres and stopped traffic for about two hours. Traders also uprooted the railings on the central verge. The police had to resort to a mild lathicharge and detained people indulging in vandalism.
The bandh call was successful as all markets - retail and wholesale - were closed to protest against the sealing drive.
More than 1,000 people were detained by police all over the city. Paramilitary forces such as ITBP and CRPF were deployed to keep the situation under control.
Traders from South Delhi markets led by a number of political leaders, including leader of MCD House Jitender Kochhar, BJP's Vijay Goel and former Chief Minister Madanlal Khurana, laid siege at the MCD office in Green Park. The protestors, including the politicians, were later detained by the police.
Both the Congress and the BJP leaders were out on the streets to express their support for the traders. Mayor Farhad Suri has convened an all-party meeting on the sealing issue later in the evening.
While most of the markets in the capital were closed, shopping arcades in NDMC areas, such as Cannaught Place, Khan Market remained open.
“Essential services have been excluded from the bandh -- Private medical practitioners and chemists were supporting the bandh by sporting black bands on their arms, but added the health services were unaffected,” said Praveen Khandelwal, General Secretary of Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
Khandelwal claimed that auto-rickshaw associations too had extended support to the strike. There were reports of auto drivers quoting exorbitant prices and fleecing customers on the pretext of the bandh call.