Closure of border points, barricades trigger traffic snarls in Delhi
All roads leading to central Delhi were heavily barricaded with the police checking vehicles at several points on Monday, when the Union Budget was presented in the Parliament, leading to traffic snarls across the Capital.
Senior police officers who spoke on condition of anonymity said security was further enhanced in the city in anticipation of trouble by thousands of protesters who are camping on Delhi borders against the three contentious farm laws. On Republic Day, the farmers took out a tractor rally, clashed with the police at several points and barged into the Red Fort.
Farm leaders had announced a march to Parliament on February 1, but cancelled it after the violence during the tractor rally. The officers said they enhanced the security anyway as they did not want to take any chances.
Besides Delhi police and central paramilitary personnel, traffic police was also deployed in adequate numbers, one of the officers said. Buses had also been parked on the roads as a precautionary measure to prevent any protesters from going towards Parliament.
Throughout the day, massive traffic jams were reported from the eastern, southern and central parts of Delhi which were worsened by the closure of the Ghazipur-Ghaziabad border, Delhi-Meerut expressway and NH-9, NH-24. The closure of the almost all the lanes of the NH-24 resulted in bumper-to-bumper traffic which went up to three kilometres along the Anand Vihar road.
At GT Karnal Road, the carriageway towards Delhi also saw massive traffic throughout the day due to police barricades installed near the Bhalswa landfill. On Monday evening, commuters faced a delay of around 40 minutes to cover the stretch.
Deputy commissioner of police (east) Deepak Yadav said apart from the Delhi-Meerut expressway, all the carriageways of NH-9 and NH-24 were closed since Sunday night due to the farmers’ protest. “But as the closure of the roads caused a massive bottleneck, one carriageway on NH-24 going towards Delhi was opened for traffic. The other roads are still closed. No vehicles are being allowed on these roads for people going towards east Delhi or Ghaziabad,” said DCP Yadav.
Traffic police officials said vehicles are being diverted on other routes such as Vikas Marg, DND, and those in the south and north Delhi. Among the roads that have been witnessing traffic jams are Road No. 56 between Ghazipur and Dilshad Garden via Anand Vihar ISBT, Vikas Marg (both carriageways), Ring Road (towards south Delhi and central Delhi), DND, and Ashram Chowk.
As motorists faced inconvenience and complained about the traffic chaos on social media, the Delhi Traffic Police began posting updates about diversions and suggested alternate routes.
Police said there were also rumours and misleading posts on social media that the police are cordoning west Delhi neighbourhoods inhabited by a particular community. Joint commissioner of police (western range) Shalini Singh said because of the call for march to Parliament, as a precautionary measure roads leading to Parliament were heavily barricaded.
“Adequate police deployment is being maintained to avoid any law and order situation. There are rumours that police are barricading neighbourhoods dominated by a particular community which are absolutely baseless and false,” Singh said.
The joint commissioner said police teams have also been asked to conduct coordination meetings with gurdwaras and aman (peace) committees. All measures are being taken to ensure peace, she said.
Delhi Police also tweeted to dispel rumours. “These barricades are installed for routine law and order arrangement and checking of vehicles. We are a secular force with mission to safeguard all religious groups and communities.”
“If anybody is having apprehensions, please feel free to call concerned police station SHO.” A list of all SHOs in the west district was attached to the tweet.
Delhi police commissioner SN Shrivastav also visited Ghazipur border along with other senior officers to take stock of the security arrangements. He also briefed the police personnel deployed at the border and appreciated their hard work.