As little Prantik Hore got out of the car and looked up at the majestic India Gate on a Saturday afternoon, a smile appeared on the five-year-old's face. It, however, vanished within minutes as he, his sister Prakriti, mother Kaveri and father Pullock were not allowed to venture anywhere near it even after travelling all the way from Alipurduar in north Bengal.
And they were not alone as tourists from various parts of the country and all over the world are returning disappointed from Delhi this winter as India Gate — one of the architectural masterpieces of the Capital — remains out of bounds with CrPc Section 144 still in place, not allowing visitors an up, close and personal view.
Many, from near and far, came on a chilly yet sunny Saturday only to get their spirits dampened by barricades and armed security personnel.
“I had no idea of this. My children have wanted to come here ever since the Delhi trip was planned. Now it will be somehow incomplete since we came so near yet so far. We have taken pictures but with barricades as backdrops,” Pullock, a 47-year-old businessman, said.
Many foreign tourists were also totally clueless regarding the heavy police presence and the restriction against visiting India Gate. “Is Red Fort too out of bounds?” asked Betty, a student from Taiwan.
For German Nico Weakend, it's a pity. This 30-year-old university worker from Bremen has come to the Capital in a bid to see all its “brilliant features”.
“It’s a pity for tourists like us who travel so much and then are greeted by restrictions. Not sure if this goes too far,” Nico said.
When contacted, a senior police official said Section 144 restrictions would continue at various places of central Delhi for at least another week. “After that the situation will be reviewed and a decision will be taken accordingly,” he said.
Another American tourist, who refused to give his name, said: “Like the Gateway of India identifies Mumbai and Victoria Memorial characterises Kolkata, India Gate defines Delhi. You can’t close this.”