Forces deployed as Delhi traders intensify protests

Life is thrown out of gear as anti-sealing stir turns violent, reports Sobhana K.

india Updated: Nov 01, 2006 18:54 IST
Sobhana K
Sobhana K

Life in the Capital was thrown out of gear on Wednesday as traders intensified their agitation against the MCD's sealing drive on the last day of their 72-hour bandh call.

The traders took to streets, burnt buses, pelted stones, brunt effigies, staged rallies and blocked traffic all over the city.

Many schools closed early on Wednesday. Private doctors also joined the strike, taking only emergency cases.

In east Delhi, traffic remained stalled for several hours at the Noida crossing, Laxmi Nagar and Mandawali Road.

The traders assembled at the markets at 9.15 am and blocked traffic —many office goers got stuck for several hours. The traders pelted stones at passersby and several buses.

At Mayur Vihar and Laxmi Nagar the traders also burnt buses.

The police had to resort to lathicharge at Noida crossingto clear a major roadblock, where traders and BJP activists had assembled in large numbers.

Two companies of paramilitary forces were called in to control the situation in East Delhi, where agitators deflated tyres of a few buses.

Traffic was allowed on Vikas Marg after 3 pm.

"We have detained 57 persons," said, DCP (East), Ajay Chaudhury. Seelampur, that witnessed widespread violence on the traders' bandh on September 20 and five people died in police firing, was peaceful on Wednesday.

There was heavy deployment of police and paramilitaryforce in the area.

South Delhi traders held a rally starting from Malviya Nagar. The procession passed through Green Park, Hauz Khas, South Extension, Lajpat Nagar and ended at Greater Kailash. The rally remained largely peaceful, with the traders shouting anti-government slogans.

The traffic was blocked at the Ring Road. Senior Delhi Congress leaders led the protests.

"We were caught off guard. It took me 45 minutes to cross South Extension," said Abhijeet Verma, who was driving towards Ashram.

In West Delhi also, traders blocked traffic at several places. The traffic remained stalled at Pankha Road from Dabri traffic intersection to Uttam Nagar.

Expressing solidarity with the traders protesting against the sealing drive, shopkeepers in Connaught Place and other authorized markets in the city downed their shutters in the afternoon.

"The traders requested us to join the bandh. We decided to support them. CP, Palika Bazar and Janpath were closed after lunch," said Atul Bhargava, president of New Delhi Trader's Association.

Schools closed

The schools closed early on Wednesday as many parents rushed to pick up their wards fearing violence. Many schools have declared holiday for Thursday—as the sealing drive is slated to resume from November 2.

"Students of Mater Dei Convent were picked up by the parents from 11 am onwards. The drivers of some of the vehicles ferrying students called up parents to warn of possible delays after which many of them rushed to the school to pick up their wards," said Anjali Sharma, mother of a student.

Things were not much different at DPS (RK Puram), Shriram School, Laxman Public School. Many students who live in south and east Delhi were stranded in school much after the closing hour because of chakka jam by traders. "Many buses could not move out of school at all. We did not send children back by buses to areas like Lajpat Nagar, Kalkaji, Malviya Nagar, Saket and parts of east Delhi like Mayur Vihar and Patparganj. We had asked parents to pick their wards up. We will remain open on Thursday, but we have asked parents to send children with enough eatables in case they get delayed," said Shayama Chona, principal DPS (RK Puram).

Health services affected

Health services in the city were partially affected with private medical practitioners and nursing homes supporting the traders' bandh on Wednesday.

Although emergency services were not disrupted, routine cases were turned away. Out Patients Departments (OPDs) too remained closed.

Delhi Medical Association (DMA) President KK Kapur claimed that more than 30,000 doctors had joined the bandh. "The bandh was successful and traders were happy that doctors supported them. The response to DMA's bandh call was better than what we were expecting. Emergency services continued to be operational in all nursing homes," said Dr Kapur.

First Published: Nov 01, 2006 11:22 IST