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Bush nightmare for Delhi commuters
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in New Delhi | March 02, 2006 20:33 IST
American President George W Bush's visit spelt traffic snarls, stranded commuters and loss of business for many shopkeepers in the Indian capital.
Security measures in and around Connaught Place, Rajghat and India Gate were so strict that many buses plying in these areas where stopped much before their scheduled stops. Rows of commuters were seen walking to reach their destinations.
Even autorickshaws and private taxis gave these key Delhi areas a wide berth, afraid they would be stuck in the security cordons.
"I had no idea that these places would be barricaded and no vehicle would move. I was stuck near Rajghat for over an hour because the police wouldn't allow me to ply my vehicle after Bush reached with his entourage," said Ram Kumar Mishra, an auto rickshaw driver.
It wasn't just Bush's security detail that crippled normal traffic in the capital. A huge procession led by Communist leaders choked traffic on many roads.
"I had to walk at least a kilometre to take an auto because all roads were closed. There were no buses plying to my office on Tolstoy Marg. The Bush visit crippled my office -- many just stayed home," said Kamini Agarwal, who works with an MNC.
Ajay Kumar, a jeweller, was equally frustrated with the anti-Bush rally. "There are no tourists -- nor any customers - to come to my shop. There is no business here. Those who want to come to our shop cannot come because the police has barricaded the entrance and the exit of the main road that leads to my shop," said Kumar.
A similar traffic nightmare occurred when Bush arrived on Wednesday night.
"After getting stuck in a traffic jam on Wednesday night I decided not to venture anywhere near the areas where Bush is traveling. I was also scared anti-Bush protestors would damage my vehicle if they became unruly," said Mohammad Munaf, an auto driver.
Some auto drivers charged a premium to drop passengers near places where Bush was scheduled to visit.
"Others are charging more, but for me my life is precious. So is my auto," quipped Munaf.