Traffic thrown into chaos as Agnipath protests reach Delhi

Updated on Jun 21, 2022 01:04 AM IST

The gridlocks were at their worst for three hours in the morning, mostly towards Gurugram, Noida, and Ghaziabad, leaving commuters harrowed and late to reach their destinations.

A view of the massive traffic jam near Akshardham Temple, on Delhi-Meerut Expressway in New Delhi, India, on Monday, June 20, 2022. (Photo by Ajay Aggarwal/ Hindustan Times)
A view of the massive traffic jam near Akshardham Temple, on Delhi-Meerut Expressway in New Delhi, India, on Monday, June 20, 2022. (Photo by Ajay Aggarwal/ Hindustan Times)
By, New Delhi

Barricades put up at Delhi’s borders -- as part of the heightened security measures in view of the Bharat Bandh call given by those protesting against the Agnipath short-term recruitment plan for the armed forces -- led to massive jams on the roads connecting Delhi with Gurugram, Noida, and Ghaziabad on Monday.

The gridlocks were at their worst for three hours in the morning, mostly towards Gurugram, Noida, and Ghaziabad, leaving commuters harrowed and late to reach their destinations.

Apart from the border areas in eastern, southern and outer Delhi, traffic remain disrupted throughout the day in central Delhi as well as Congress party leaders and workers staged a protest against the recruitment scheme and also in solidarity with their senior party leader Rahul Gandhi, who continues to be questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper.

Many Indian Youth Congress workers held a demonstration at Connaught Place, throwing traffic out of gear in areas surrounding the market. All roads leading to Jantar Mantar were closed and security stepped up as Congress leaders sat on a ‘satyagraha (sit-in protest)’ there to express solidarity with the armed forces aspirants protesting against the Agnipath scheme.

The protest led to jams as traffic and police personnel diverted vehicles away from the closed roads towards alternative routes, confusing motorists and giving rise to slow-moving traffic. Many motorists were seen arguing with traffic personnel while others sought help to figure out the routes that were open to reach their destinations.

After the Jantar Mantar protest, Congress leaders and workers took out a solidarity march from Parliament House to Vijay Chowk, where they were stopped by the Delhi Police. In the evening, the Congress delegation comprising leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Adhir Ranjan Choudhary, Ashok Gehlot, Bhupesh Baghel, P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh and KC Venugopal met President Ram Nath Kovind and raised the issue of the alleged ill-treatment of party MPs by police during their protest last week.

Among the affected stretches in central Delhi were Motilal Nehru Marg, Akbar Road, Janpath and Man Singh Road, Gol Methi junction, Tughlak Road Junction, Claridges Junction, Q-point Junction, Sunehri Masjid Junction, Maulana Azad Road Junction. Traffic was also heavy on Ashoka Road and Janpath Road because of the restrictions and diversions.

Additional commissioner of police (traffic) Shibesh Singh said personnel were deployed in adequate numbers across central Delhi to manage and regulate the traffic and ensure minimum inconvenience to the public.

“In addition, we were regularly issuing advisories on social media and FM channels. We also intimated Google about the closure of roads, traffic restrictions and diversions,” said Singh.

Earlier, on Monday morning, barricades were put up at different places on Delhi-Meerut Expressway, NH-9, Noida Link Road, DND Flyway, Noida-Kalindi Kunj Road and Delhi-Gurugram road following inputs that many “anti-social elements” may enter Delhi from Rajasthan, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh to join the agitation against Agnipath recruitment scheme and also the protests against the ED questioning Gandhi.

“We received inputs from our intelligence branch that miscreants on tractors, buses and in private vehicles may enter Delhi and resort to torching of tyres and other untoward incidents. Our personnel deployed at the border points checked vehicles and detained many such miscreants. Traffic was disturbed for a couple of hours because of similar drivers were carried out by our counterparts in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. By 10.30am, traffic flow was smooth,” said a senior Delhi Police officer, asking not to be named.

Tara Chand, a government employee travelling from his residence in Vasundhara, Ghaziabad, to his office near Patel Chowk, said he was stuck in a jam for nearly an hour on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway.

“Usually, it takes me about an hour to reach the office. But today I left home around 8.30am and reached office at 10.40am,” said Chand.

Many motorists, especially office-goers, took to social media seeking the intervention of the traffic police to clear up the mess.

“@dtptraffic Delhi Meerut expressway chocked due to police barricades at Ghazipur. Public at lurch, office goers burning precious fuel on roads. Please help,” a Twitter user Rajeev Sharma posted around 9.30 am.

Another Twitter user, Neeraj Goyal, requested the Delhi Police to remove the barricades from 7am to 11am. He said it took him up to two hours to pass through these barricades. “Lakhs of people are getting late because of these barricades,” he tweeted.

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