Sonia Gandhi’s Haryana rally takes toll on NH-1October 2nd, 2008 - 3:46 pm ICT by IANS
Panipat (Haryana), Oct 2 (IANS) United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s rally in this industrial city Thursday threw traffic on National Highway No. 1 out of gear with police blocking a major section of the road, which is one of the busiest in the country.Thousands of motorists and public transport passengers were forced out of the NH-1 since morning after police, in order to facilitate the Samajik Kranti rally, blocked the highway section between Karnal and Sonepat towns on either side of this city, 100 km from Delhi.
Motorists were forced to take detours ranging from 50 km to over 100 km on smaller roads, some of them passing through villages, to reach Delhi and those coming from Delhi were forced to undergo a similar ordeal.
As police decided to block the highway much before Panipat, state transport buses from Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and other states and scores of private buses reached Karnal town on the Ambala-Delhi section of the highway, 25 km from here, only to be diverted from there towards the Meerut road in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.
Several buses were seen offloading passengers at Karnal itself, instead of taking the diversion route. Harried passengers - many of whom were going back home as Thursday was a national holiday - rued the blockade, asking why they should be subjected to this.
“I was going to meet my family on a holiday today. Now much of my time will be wasted in commuting itself. Is Sonia Gandhi holding the rally on the highway for it to be blocked like this?” asked Dhian Singh of Kundli near the Delhi border.
Those coming from Delhi were diverted from Sonepat towards the Baghpat road in Uttar Pradesh to reach Karnal via Shamli.
Police officials manning the highway said they were only implementing orders from senior officers.
“We were told to divert all vehicles. We know that people are facing a lot of inconvenience but we cannot help it,” said a sub-inspector manning a diversion near Karnal.
People were forced to drive through smaller village roads for several kilometers to circumvent Panipat.
Sonia Gandhi will address a public rally being organised by the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government in Haryana where she will launch a state government scheme to allot 100 square yard residential plots in rural areas free of cost to members of families of scheduled castes and those below poverty line (BPL).