Differently-abled protesters return to Mandi House, traffic chokes
Almost a month after a protest by a group of differently-abled people at Mandi House had thrown traffic out of gear in central Delhi, the agitators returned to the same spot on Tuesday to protest and trigger a similar traffic chaos.
Tuesday’s protest forced the closure of two roads throughout the day — one carriageway of Sikandra Road and both carriageways of the Bhagwan Dass Road — causing snarls on several stretches around Mandi House that tailed back as far as Vikas Marg in east Delhi.
The agitators on Tuesday comprised more than 250 differently-abled men and women who protested against the Indian Railways for allegedly not giving them the Group D jobs that they claim to have qualified for.
Earlier, between October 23 and 25, the same agitators had blocked Mandi House to again protest against Indian Railways, triggering massive snarls in central and east Delhi.
“We had gone back after authorities had promised to rectify the mistake in 14 days. They didn’t fulfil their promise, but we gave them an additional 15 days. Now that we know that they have gone back on their word, we have returned to protest,” said Deepak Kumar Yadav, a 25-year-old man from Bihar.
On Tuesday morning, when attempts to disperse the protesters failed, the traffic police closed Bhagwan Dass Road and Mandi House-ITO carriageway of Sikandra Road.
But as the morning peak hour began, snarls started to show on roads connected to Mandi House. The jams soon spread to C-Hexagon, ITO and the Vikas Marg, even as motorists complained that journeys took them 30 to 90 minutes longer than usual.
“By the time I realised that Vikas Marg was choked, it was too late. Many motorists had escaped the jam by taking a U-Turn, but I ended up getting stuck on Vikas Marg for over 30 minutes” said Ravi Trivedi, an IT employee.
Among vehicles stuck in the snarls were ambulances.
NS Bundela, joint commissioner of police (traffic) said that the traffic situation on Tuesday was better than the last time. “There were jams in the morning peak traffic hour, but in the evening we were able to greatly reduce the congestion,” said Bundela.
The officer said that a large number of traffic personnel were tasked with diverting traffic on to lesser congested routes. “We prevented heavy vehicles from driving on to the C-Hexagon. The routes on which these vehicles were diverted were given longer movement time on traffic junctions,” said Bundela.
The vehicles were diverted mostly on to Ring Road and the Mathura Road, said Bundela.
Having arrived in Delhi by Monday night itself, the protesters on Tuesday tried to quietly gather at Mandi House by 4am. However, Delhi Police got a whiff of the developments and a team was sent to the spot.
“I was loaded in a police gypsy around 4am, driven two kilometres away and left there by a police team. But I walked back to protest here again,” said Joginder Kumar, who came from Hathras in Uttar Pradesh.
The police later gave in to the protesters and barricaded a portion of the Mandi House roundabout to let the agitators gather there even as they managed the movement of vehicles around it.
The protesters said they would continue their agitation at the same spot until their demands were met in writing.