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Joy ride gets scary at Delhi-Jaipur highway
Avishek Roy | June 03, 2007 20:11 IST
The entire 247-km-stretch from the national capital to the Pink City has seen intense flare-up fuelled by Gujjar reservation row. Traffic at National Highway 8 was thrown out of gear during five days of violence that gripped Rajasthan and has now spiralled out to other parts of the country.
Stranded passengers waiting for the bus service to resume heaved a sigh of relief when it was announced yesterday that the state government would re-start traffic on the route.
The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation at Bikaner House was suddenly teeming with people at noon as they made a beeline for tickets to reach their destination after five days of chaos.
But the momentary relief gave away to anxiety as they were told that they will be the first to take the ride after it was thrown open on Saturday as military cleared the way to resume normal operation.
"As of now we have been asked to send only few buses which will be escorted by the army. The buses will go together. We are not booking anything for Monday as we will wait for further instructions from authorities," said O P Babbar, station in-charge at the Bikaner House.
Babbar kept his cool even as he had a harrowing time replying to the countless queries from passengers, who wanted to avail the opportunity but at the same time were worried to take the risk. But some of them were stranded for far too many days to miss and were prepared to go for it despite the risk.
And after an assurance by the authorities at Bikaner House that the way is safe and that is why it has been opened, they were ready for the bumpy ride.
"So many people have been here for the last or days. But what can we do we were helpless and we had to say no to these stranded passengers," Babbar said.
"I have been waiting at Delhi for two days. I have my children with me but my husband is worried that whether the bus journey will be worth taking the risk," said Archana Singh.
Around six buses carrying 250 passengers from Bikaner House in Delhi left for Jaipur at 2.30 on Saturday.
The buses, as instructed, waited for the escort 100 km from Delhi at Behrot, from where Rajasthan police took charge of the vehicles.
An eerie silence prevailed over the entire Delhi-Jaipur Highway which bore the brunt of angry Gujjar community fighting for their inclusion in ST category. Places like Behrur, Kotputli and Shahjahanpur along the way wore a deserted look.
Almost all shops, motels and restaurants had their shutters down and except few trucks and army vehicles patrolling the area, there was no sign of activity. Some burnt jeeps on way remained mute testimony to the simmering violence that rocked Rajsathan and killed 26 people.