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Delhi turns into fortress; 9 metro stations shut; PM-Putin venue meet shifted

Monday, 24 December 2012 - 9:30am IST Updated: Monday, 24 December 2012 - 10:46am IST | Agency: PTI

Office goers and students were the most affected due to blockade of roads and closure of nine metro stations near India Gate and Raisina Hill.

The heart of the national capital on Monday turned into a fortress with heavy deployment of police who blocked roads leading to India Gate and Raisina Hill to ensure that no protests take place there but the arrangements put commuters at severe hardship.

Office goers and students were the most affected due to blockade of roads and closure of nine metro stations near India Gate and Raisina Hill.

In view of the incidents in the last two-three days, the venue of the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimar Putin has been shifted to the Race Course residence of the Prime Minister.

Usually, such meetings are held in Hyderabad House which is close to India Gate, the scene of protests in the last two days.

Police blocked Rafi Marg from both sides and one carriage way of Ashoka Road, Copernicus Marg and other stretches around the India Gate.

Employees had a tough time reaching their offices in Krishi Bhavan, Shastri Bhavan, Rail Bhavan and Nirman Bhavan as police did not allow crossing Rajpath. Buses were diverted through longer routes.

There were heavy barricading on Rafi Marg and Raisina Road and employees heading to South Bloc and North Bloc had to argue with policemen and show their identity cards to them.

People heading to Connaught Place from South Delhi and vice versa had severe problems in commuting.

Media persons were also not allowed near India Gate or Raisina Hill and were asked to go to Pragati Maidan.

The midnight announcement of closure of Rajiv Chowk Metro station apart from eight other stations caught many unawares and people were seen arguing with security personnel to allow them to get out of it.

Eight stations, except Rajiv Chowk remained closed yesterday as well but it did not have much impact yesterday being a Sunday. Since offices reopened today and Rajiv Chowk was also shut, hundreds of passengers were stranded.

Some auto drivers sought to take full advantage of the problem and demanded exhorbitant rates.

"I had to come from Udyog Bhavan to Jantar Mantar. As Rafi Marg was closed, I had to come through Mother Crescent Road and it was 5-6 kilometres but I had to shell out Rs 200. Otherwise it would have come around Rs 40. They are fleecing.

"If police is closing everything, then they should also ensure that auto drivers don't fleece us," said Sanjay Suri, an accountant working in Connaught Place.

Huge traffic jams were witnessed across central Delhi.

There were traffic chaos at ITO intersection, Pragati Maidan, Nizamuddin Bridge, Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, Mother Teresa Cresent Road, Mathura Road, Khan Market, Mandi House and Barakhamba Road.

A senior police official said the closing of entry points to India Gate resulted in the mayhem on roads.

With ITO and adjacent roads clogged with vehicles, policemen had a tough job controlling the vehicles and guiding them not to take the restricted roads.

Several commuters were stuck at traffic lights for over 30 minutes as jams were witnessed at all roads near the India Gate.

With most of the other roads leading to Connaught Place and nearby areas closed, traffic moved at a snail's pace on Bhagwan Dass Road and near Pragati Maidan.

Several auto drivers also spoke about being caught in long traffic jams and refused to take passengers. A few sought to capitalise the situation by demanding exorbitant amount to ferry them.

With buses bypassing several restricted areas and some taking long routes for their destination, some of the commuters had to walk long distances.

"I had to walk all the way from New Delhi metro station to Rafi Marg as all other nearby stations were closed. It took me almost 45 minutes," said a frustrated commuter.

Several travellers who had to catch trains were also caught in the mayhem.

"I drove a family from New Delhi Railway Station to Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station. It took us one and a half hours and they missed their train to Chennai," said an auto driver.

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