Farm bill stir checks hold up traffic on Delhi to Gurugram stretch of expressway
Traffic movement into the city slowed down on the Delhi to Gurugram carriageway of the expressway on Wednesday evening, as the police intensified checking of commuters ahead of the ‘Dilli Chalo’ protest march call given by farmers for Thursday and Friday.
The traffic jam started around 3.30pm and was resolved only around 6.30pm, said Gurugram police officers. Movement of vehicles at other borders points with Delhi, however, remained smooth.
Ashtha Modi, the deputy commissioner of police (headquarters), said, “There was a jam at the border on the Delhi to Gurugram side of the expressway and we coordinated with the Delhi Police to streamline vehicular movement.”
Commuters travelling from Delhi to Gurugram on Wednesday evening also said that they faced a long wait to enter the city.
Amitabh Singh, an executive working with a multinational electrical company, said it took him half an hour to travel from Mahipalpur in Delhi to Cyber City as he was stopped twice by the Delhi Police. “I had no idea that entering Gurugram is a problem. No advisory was issued on any social media platform. It was said that going to Delhi will be an issue,” he said.
However, officials of the Delhi Police denied that there was a jam on the expressway.
Ingit Pratap Singh, the deputy commissioner of police (south-west), Delhi Police, said that pickets have been set up on both carriageways at the Rajokri border, near the defunct Sirhaul toll plaza. “The checks were mainly of vehicles entering Delhi, to ensure that protesting farmers do not enter the capital. The picket on the carriageway leading to Gurugram was just set up to check criminal elements, but the checking was not as intense as on the other carriageway, where vehicles were entering Delhi.”
Another deputy commissioner of Delhi Police, of a district that has a border in its jurisdiction, said that they are keeping a watch on large vehicles entering the city. “If people are coming in mass in a vehicle, they are being stopped and their identities ascertained. If they are not travelling with families, they are being stopped and checked,” said the DCP, who didn’t want to be identified.
The Gurugram Police has deployed 900 personnel at the 13 borders connecting the city with Delhi, Rajasthan, Nuh, Rewari, Sohna and Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway. The police said they have set up 123 barricades in these locations and strict instructions have been given to check all the vehicles.
The police said they would check all vehicles and commuters’ identity cards to ensure farmers don’t cross the border. Also, strict checking to ensure no one is moving without a face mask and are adhering to rules and regulation of Covid-19 guidelines will be in place, they said. If there is more than one person in a vehicle, a mask is be compulsory and police teams will fine violators on the spot, said officials.
Modi said that the teams were deployed around 4pm at the Sirhaul border. “The traffic movement slowed down due to the checking and people should avoid travelling to Delhi unnecessarily on these two days,” she said.
The state government had issued a comprehensive travel advisory on Tuesday that mentioned that commuters are likely to face congestion on the borders connecting to Delhi. Police teams have been instructed not to allow any tractor-trolley or heavy vehicles ferrying farmers.
The police said that all large vehicles will be checked on Thursday and Friday. However, farmers marching to Delhi to press the Central government to scrap the farm laws alleged that they would block the roads leading to Delhi if they are not allowed to enter the capital.
Nikita Gehlot, the deputy commissioner of police (Manesar), said that the primary objective of the arrangements is to maintain law and order to prevent any violence. The instructions in force due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation have also been kept in mind. “We have received secret information that a large number of protesters are likely to enter Gurugram from different stretches, including KMP Expressway, to reach Delhi. We have intensified night patrolling in all the suspected areas,” she said.
Gehlot said they have prepared a strategy to divert traffic if congestion is reported on Thursday and Friday. “During checking on Wednesday, it was observed that people were moving in groups, just to check the ground situation after hearing of strict checking at the borders. We have informed people through social media and other media about these arrangements in advance so that they can plan and modify their journey accordingly, to avoid any inconvenience,” she said.
(with inputs from Shiv Sunny)