Violent clashes and massive roadblocks by Delhi traders brought the national capital to a standstill on Wednesday as protests against the sealing drive intensified.
Most of the major markets remained closed for the day with around 500 different trade bodies participating in the strike called by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
"Violent clashes and stone pelting took place at four places. No one was injured but the police had to used force to disperse traders blocking roads," said Deepak Arora, a member of CAIT.
The worst affected areas were Bhajanpura, Jail Road, South Extension and Pankha Road. Instances of traders clashing with police and stone pelting were reported from these areas, said Arora.
Traffic jams, caused by traders, were reported from 60 different places. Effigies of Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit were also burnt in some localities.
Lajpat Nagar market, Khan Market, Karol Bagh, Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazaar and Connaught Place were some of the markets that were shut for the day.
"Most of the market associations in south, west and north Delhi and in the old quarters have helped to make this strike a success," said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of CAIT.
However, essential services, like food and medicine shops, were kept out of the strike and remained open.
"We don't want to create unnecessary problems for people because they too have been suffering because of the sealing drive in the capital," said Khandelwal.
The few markets that were open did little business as buyers stayed away for the day.
"We have opened our shops because we are not actively taking part in the strike but some shopkeepers have not opened their shops," said Vijay Dua, a garment shop owner in Sarojini Nagar market.
Added Tarun Joshi, another shopkeeper: "There is no point in opening the shops because not many people are coming to the market."
Despite fears of attacks by traders, officials of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) went ahead with the anti-sealing drive in the city. They targeted areas like Malviya Nagar and RK Puram in south Delhi.
Civic authorities have sealed over 1,600 commercial units in the past two weeks of the drive that started on September 1 following a Supreme Court directive.
Over 40,000 trading units, which earlier submitted affidavits in the Supreme Court saying they would shift their shops, would also be sealed.
Delhi traders got a reprieve on Friday as authorities allowed businesses to function in residential premises on nearly 2,200 roads.