Gujjar protesters blockade Delhi, paralyse western Uttar Pradesh

May 29th, 2008 - 11:50 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) Parts of northern India came to a standstill Thursday morning as members of the Gujjar community blockaded most major roads leading to New Delhi in support of their brethren who are carrying out a pro-reservation agitation in Rajasthan since May 23. They also paralysed train services by squatting on rail tracks in western Uttar Pradesh. Reports coming into the Delhi Police control room said the Gujjars had blockaded the roads between the capital and major satellite towns Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida and Ghaziabad, leading to massive traffic snarls in the morning rush hour.

The reports said thousands of policemen from Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and central reserve forces were trying to ensure that the protesters remained peaceful. Police officials said in private they were reluctant to lift the blockades by force because that may lead to violence.

The Delhi-Jaipur national highway that passes through Gurgaon was reported to be the only major inter-state road that remained open. The busy Gurgaon-Mehrauli road, the Mathura Road that connects Faridabad to Delhi, the Delhi-Noida-Delhi (DND) expressway and the National Highways 24 and 58 that connect Ghaziabad to Delhi were all under blockade, with thousands of vehicles piling up.

About two dozen trains on the main line were stuck between Aligarh and Ghaziabad, thanks to the protesters squatting on the railway tracks.

There were unusually calm stretches on south Delhi’s Mehrauli-Badarpur road, an eyewitness reported, perhaps as a result of the blockades. A group of around 200 Gujjars took out a procession down the road in the morning, carrying a mock coffin.

Vehicular movement in much of western Uttar Pradesh was paralysed as well. Highways from Ghaziabad to Dehradun and Lucknow were under blockade at various places.

“Vehicular movement on Noida-Greater Noida Expressway was totally stopped,” claimed Raj Kumar Bhati, national convener of the Dehat Morcha. “The Gujjar boys staged a dharna (sit-in) at Pari Chowk in Greater Noida. No traffic movement was allowed to any side from Pari Chowk, either towards GT road or towards Noida and Delhi.”

“All the strategic points - Tilpat, Dadri, Dasna, Modi Nagar, Loni - were sealed,” Bhati added. “No vehicle and no train was allowed to move. The NCR was totally paralysed.”

Even vegetable vendors could not run the blockade and reach residential neighbourhoods in Ghaziabad, Noida or Greater Noida. “The prices of vegetables, milk and other grocery items at the retail shops were double,” said Poonam Singh, a resident of Noida’s sector-27.

Gujjars in Rajasthan have been agitating in support of their demand for inclusion in the state’s Scheduled Tribe list so that they can improve their education and job opportunities. At least 37 people have been killed since May 23 in violence surrounding the agitation, a majority of them in police firing.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Business |