Delhi BJP workers staged a "chakka jam" protest against the city government's new excise policy on Monday and blocked roads at different locations in the national capital, leading to traffic snarls at important stretches including at the ITO, near the Akshardham temple and on the Ring Road.
"The Delhi government is opening liquor shops illegally across the city under its new excise policy. Shops are being opened near residential and religious places. Our protest will continue until the policy is rolled back," Gupta told reporters. He said liquor shops will not be allowed to operate near religious places, schools and residential areas.
Senior Delhi BJP leader Kuljeet Chahal led the protest at ITO. Sisodia said BJP leaders are "rattled" with the new excise policy as the Arvind Kejriwal government has "stopped the theft" of Rs 3,500 crore (that used to come through illegal sale of liquor)."Now this money is going to the government to carry out public welfare work. Earlier, this money used to go to BJP leaders and the liquor mafia," the deputy chief minister said in a tweet in Hindi.
Commuters had a harrowing time due to the traffic snarls caused by the protest at important road stretches. Key roads that were affected by the protest include the ITO crossing, Vikas Marg from Laxmi Nagar to ITO, the road near Akshardham temple, National Highway 24, Noida-Delhi Link Road, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, Mother Dairy Road and the Signature Bridge road.
A commuter, who was stuck on NH-24, said, "There is heavy traffic jam on NH-24. Most of the roads are blocked by the protesters and it is causing inconvenience to people like us who need to reach office on time." Asked about the commuters facing trouble due to the protest, Gupta claimed that it is a public movement and that people are ready to bear with it in order to get rid of the new excise policy of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government.
People turned to Delhi Metro to avoid the roads, which led to a huge rush at the metro stations in the morning office hours. "No autorickshaws or cabs were available and there were huge queues outside the metro stations. There were coaches with many passengers standing," said another commuter.
The traffic police, however, maintained that the congestion was cleared from important stretches. A senior traffic police official said, "The situation is normal now. There was heavy congestion at two major points. One near Aksharsham and another near ITO. The traffic movement was affected for some time, but it is smooth now."
The officer added that the traffic movement was normalised with the help of the local police and the protesters were removed from those locations. Traffic snarls were also witnessed on NH-9. Both NH-9 and NH-24 have been cleared for smooth vehicular traffic, said another police officer.
The "chakka jam" protest is being conducted at 15 locations, including near the Akshardham flyover, at the Car Bazar at Vikas Marg, NH-24, Dayaram Chowk, ITO, Ring Road, near the Signature Bridge and Civil Lines. The protesters raised slogans against the city government and its new excise policy.
They also made repeated announcements that all emergency vehicles should be given way and no damage should be caused to public property. Under the new excise policy, 849 premium liquor vends are being opened across the city. The policy was implemented in the city from November 17, 2021.
With inputs from PTI.