VHP protest plus rain equal commuters’ nightmare

August 13th, 2008 - 1:35 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine

New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS) Incessant rain combined with road blockades by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists protesting the cancellation of land transfer to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) spelt bad news for commuters in the national capital Wednesday. The nationwide protest called by the VHP over the Amarnath issue began at 9 a.m. and continued for two hours. It resulted in total mayhem on the roads during the morning rush hour.

Ashu Misra, who works in a publishing house, took nearly two hours to reach his workplace in south Delhi from his home in central Delhi, when on other days the distance is covered in less than an hour.

“The roads in central Delhi were spilling over with protesters who blocked all the paths, leaving us commuters with no choice but to either wait for them to clear off or take alternative routes. I opted for the latter and still ended up in a traffic jam which did not clear for a good half an hour,” an irritated Misra said.

Mahesh Kishan, an auto rickshaw driver, gave a vivid picture of the roads since morning.

“There were no vehicles near the New Delhi railway station and in parts of Connaught Place. It was like an ocean of people on the roads, all protesting, and not one vehicle in sight. Commuters had a harrowing time… I twice ferried commuters who were strangers but chose to travel together since they had the same destination and there was no transport available,” Kishan said.

Aarti Sharma, who was rushing to her office, said: “I didn’t know about the nationwide protest today. After getting off the metro in Connaught Place I couldn’t understand why there were hardly any autos on the road… And then it started raining. After waiting for nearly 45 minutes, I found an auto driver who agreed to take me to my workplace in South Extension but charged me double the fare!”

The VHP activists blocked roads in at least 20 places in the capital, incuding ITO, Moolchand, Dwarka, Pitampura and Deepali Chowk. However, the group had Tuesday said vehicles heading to schools and hospitals would not be stopped.

“It’s always the common man who suffers, whether or not we have anything to do with an issue,” said an irritated Rakhi Bajaj, a college student who returned home after she missed the only class that she had gone to attend.

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