Massive jams were witnessed in many parts of the national capital on Thursday as the authorities barricaded roads, imposed traffic restrictions and suspended Internet services to clamp down on protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The Delhi-Gurgaon border was among the worst affected.
The police also imposed a ban on large gatherings under Section 144 of the CrPC near Red Fort in central Delhi, the starting point of one of the proposed rallies, and many protesters who came there were subsequently detained. Traffic cops said they are inspecting every car entering the city to ensure that people planning to join the agitations called by Left parties and other groups do not sneak in.
Traffic Alert :-— Gurugram Traffic Police (@TrafficGGM) December 19, 2019
Traffic congestion has been reported at Delhi-Gurugram border on NH 48 due to barricading by Delhi Police. @TrafficGGM is on the spot to facilitate the traffic. Inconvenience caused is highly regretted. @gurgaonpolice . pic.twitter.com/5R0TcHf8Rc
The restrictions were imposed even as protesters showed no sign of backing down after police said they will not allow demonstrations against the controversial law, which aims to expedite citizenship for non-Muslim migrants. "Permission has not been granted for the protest march to be held from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar by communist party over The Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC at 12 pm today," the Delhi Police had announced about another planned agitation in a tweet earlier in the day.
Mobile service providers Airtel and Vodafone suspended voice, internet and messaging services in "certain areas of Delhi" in keeping with police instructions for a brief period in the afternoon.
Police also announced that the Mathura Road-Kalindi Kunj route has been closed for traffic movement, and asked commuters from Noida to enter Delhi through DND Flyway or the Akshardham road. Access to the Delhi Metro was restricted to a great extent too, with the authorities shutting down the entry and exit gates of 20 metro stations.
By evening, they had reopened as many as 18 metro stations.
#6ETravelAdvisory: There is heavy traffic/roadblock at Delhi - Gurgaon highway. Do keep a tab on live traffic and enough travel time in hand while travelling to the airport.— IndiGo (@IndiGo6E) December 19, 2019
Even as the traffic situation in the national capital came to a head, various airlines advised travellers heading to the Indira Gandhi International Airport to set off well in advance to avoid missing their flights. Vistara Chief Commercial Officer Sanjiv Kapoor said even its airline crew was stuck due to restrictions on the roads. "Due to heavy traffic jam, our crew transport heading to airport are also stuck for the past one hour near Ambience Mall Gurgaon. Very tough travel conditions today," he tweeted.
The Gurgaon traffic police also issued alerts about traffic congestion arising out of several borders with Delhi being sealed. "Due to sealing of Delhi borders at NH48, MG road and Old Delhi-Gurugram road by Delhi Police, citizens are advised to avoid non essential travel to Delhi. Inconvenience caused is deeply regretted," they said in a tweet.
Early in the morning, Swaraj Abhiyan chief Yogendra Yadav had announced that the protest will take place despite restrictions imposed by the government. "Final clarification: there is no change in our plans. We start at 11 am from Lal Qila," he tweeted. He was detained by police shortly afterwards.
As many as 47 companies of paramilitary forces, comprising 5,000 personnel, were deployed across the city to assist the Delhi Police in managing the demonstrations.
Although simultaneous agitations against the controversial law were planned in over 10 major cities across the country, their administrations did not give them permission to do so in many instances. Protests, often violent, have swept the country since the citizenship law was passed last week. Much of it has taken place in the Northeast, West Bengal and Delhi.
Though Police force are acting on the behest of ruling dispensation, I strongly urge them to be Indians & Humans first.— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) December 19, 2019
Act sensibly and act responsibly!!@BlrCityPolice@blrcitytraffic@CMofKarnataka#RevokeSec144#CAAProtest
Historian Ramachandra Guha was among 30 protesters taken into custody in Bengaluru, where restrictions on public gathering have also been imposed. "I have been detained by police for holding a poster of Mahatma Gandhi and speaking to the press about the Constitution," he told NDTV.