Roads blocked, markets closed in Delhi

New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) Huge traffic snarls, blocked roads and protests in the national capital marked the daylong shutdown called by opposition parties against the rising fuel prices.

Shutters were down in most shops in the city, with small groups of people roaming the streets to enforce the strike, especially to check the stray shopkeepers who had decided to open their shops.

Most schools also remained closed during the strike called by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance and the Left parties.

Services at the inter-state bus terminals at Kashmere Gate and Anand Vihar were hit, with opposition party workers refusing to let buses move out.

Delhi Police said they were prepared to deal with protesters. ‘More than 100 companies have been allotted to ensure smooth flow of traffic and peaceful demonstrations. Any violent protest will be dealt with very strictly,’ said Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat.

Despite their efforts, more than 25 roads were blocked by afternoon with demonstrators waving flags of opposition parties, leading to traffic jams.

Long lines of vehicles piled up on the roads, with cars lined bumper to bumper. ‘I have been waiting more than half an hour for the traffic to move forward. I think it would have been better to stay at home today,’ said Meenakshi Thakur, who was struck in a traffic jam near South Extension in south Delhi.

City buses were plying but most of them were not packed as they usually are on Monday mornings. The tyres of buses were also deflated in certain parts of East Delhi.

‘Tyres of 25 buses were deflated outside the metro station in Preet Vihar. Ten of them have still not been towed away, causing traffic to slow down,’ said Juhi Arora, a resident of Preet Vihar.

Arun Kumar, a bus conductor of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), said he had been stranded for a long time..

‘BJP workers are deflating tyres and it is a problem for the commuters and for us,’ he said.

Delhi Metro, the pride of the city, also faced the ire of demonstrators. At Rajeev Chowk metro station, flag-waving BJP workers raised slogans on the platform. A similar protest was held at the Karol Bagh metro station.

But Delhi Metro Rail Corporation spokesperson Anuj Dayal said metro services had not been affected.

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